In today's age of globalization, West Africa Today provides a portrait of how the local population of a "developing" African nation responds to influx of foreigners who strive to bring economic growth, but often stir up cultural conflict in the process.
The film traces the history of Lebanese settlements in Ghana and Senegal from the 1860s, when the first families arrived in the "new world" thinking they had landed in America. They quickly assimilated, learned the language, established retail stores, and interacted closely with the local population. The Lebanese prospered until the 1970s when nationalistic governments in Ghana and Senegal began pushing them out of retail business and into wholesale. The arrival of Chinese business owners and shopkeepers in the 1990s further impacted an already weakened Lebanese economic elite.
The Chinese were very competitive and offered wares at extremely low prices. Whereas the Chinese business people arrived intending to make money and return to China, Lebanese, who often considered themselves Africans, remained fully tied to their lifestyle in Africa and often intermarried. Along with interviews from both immigrant groups, native Africans express their resentment toward the foreigners for stealing their resources. The insights this film offers will be useful in many contexts: economics, business, cultural anthropology, and African studies.
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