The Birth of a Ugandan Chinatown


A Ugandan employee of  a small Chinese company  on Williams Street in Kampala carries the child of his employer, as another man passes by in the crowded street.

There is no “Chinatown” in Kampala, but Williams Street has a growing cluster of Chinese shops. Also, Chinese are a very new Asian guest in Uganda, Compared with Indians and Japanese. But when we walked along Williams Street, people  smiled at us, said or shouted ,”Ni hao, China!” So our individual names have disappeared and all of our group members’ names are “China.” Yes, I am China; we are welcomed here.   


Williams Street, which is like a “baby” Chinatown under development. bags-wall.jpg 

Ladies’ bags are piled up as a wall in the chaotic market. It is exactly an African sale style.  wild-shot-of-chinese-biz.jpgA A businesswoman  from Zhejiang province has sold hats and similar products for five years. The businessmen from Zhejiang occupy a great proportion of Chinese businessmen on Williams Street. Most of them sell shoes at incredibly cheap prices – so cheap that Chinese nearly control the shoe market in Uganda. For instance, we interviewed one Indian shop owner on this street and he told us that around 90% products are from China. What’s more, with the increasing of the Chinese businessmen here, they even started to compete with each other.shoe.jpg 

A local newspaper called “New Vision” cost 1,000 Ugandan shillings, or about 60 U.S. cents, for each one, while one pair of kids shoes made by Chinese only cost 2,000. However, Ugandans often complained that the cheap shoes have terrible quality and can only last a week.porter-wide.jpgporter-black.jpg 

Trucks and porters crowded in Williams Street to transfer millions of Chinese shoes to different parts of Uganda and  neighboring countries, such as Kenya and Rwanda. gun-man.jpg 

The security guards in the chaotic market always carried gun with real bullets.      

photos by Candice 

Posted on Friday, May 16th, 2008 at 12:50 pm and is filed under Photo Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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