The first tap on my shoulder was unexpected.
I’d been getting my boogie on in the middle of the dance floor and not paying much attention to the people around me. I assumed that I was in someone’s way so I bounced over to the left.
However the tapping continued. I turned and followed the finger to the wrist, spotting what looked like a very expensive silver Rolex, carried my gaze up along a shoulder and eventually landed on the face of a smiling Chinese man who was dancing in circles around me, happily and totally off-beat. Well, to each his own.
In stunted English he offered me and my Chinese friend hospitality at his private table which was laden with drinks and fruit. I initially declined, the live band were great and I didn’t want to lose my momentum but he insisted, this time in Chinese, that having our company would be his pleasure.
Mr. Gu was spending the eveing with two Chinese friends, a female and a drunk, irritating male. I guessed the men were in their early forties and the lady in her mid to late twenties. She was the only one of the three who spoke English well.
He told us that he’d been drawn to me because he worked for most of the year in Africa, in fact it had made him rich and after spending so much time there he’d developed a strong affinity with African women. Not really romantic, more like endearing friendship.
I had to disappoint him by telling him that I’d never been to Africa and that I was born in England, but he took it well.
We never did make it back onto the dance floor that evening as Mr. Gu wouldn’t take no for an answer. It soon became clear that the word ‘no,’ along with the phrase ‘my friend and I want to go home now’ was not in his vocabulary.
After chatting for a while using my friend and his female friend as interpreters and trying to ignore the obnoxious drunk friend, we ended up going to dinner at 3am. (chauffeur driven, I might add). In this part of China, late dining is not unusual.
Unlike most Chinese people, Mr. Gu didn’t bat an eyelid when I refused all of the five meat dishes he ordered, sticking instead to rice and vegetables.
When a young lady with a sweet voice and guitar came to serenade our table in exchange for a few RMB, Mr Gu initially waved her away but on noticing that I wanted to request my favourite Chinese song, he immediately called her back. She said she didn’t know it, but he gave her 50RMB anyway.
Later, Mr. Gu took us to his apartment in the grounds of a prestigious golf course to show us the night-time view across the city.
He told us of his love and respect for Kenya, the people, the landscape and the government, as well as how much he enjoyed working there. He also spoke of his love for his new fiance, his hopes that they would have a healthy son soon after marriage and how he’d been happy to give her mother one million RMB on their engagement.
All the while, the young lady complained in our ear about how the drunk guy was only using her and wouldn’t pay for her to study in America. But to be honest if she was looking for sympathy she was wasting her time. Where Mr. Gu was charming and considerate his companions were boorish and self absorbed.
Over the last four years I’ve heard many negative stories and ideas about black people in China.
Oddly these are most common on the internet forums which are frequented by white expats.
The fact that Mr Gu wanted to spend time with me, (even though he couldn’t speak English) just because he thought I was directly from Africa and gave us such a wonderful, unique evening, is something which these narrow-minded expats could never fathom, so I wouldn’t even bother to tell them.