(Xinhua) -- Fann Beach located west of Darkar is a
sight to gladden the hearts of sports and fitness lovers.
The golden beach is lined with workout
benches, pull-up bars and exercise bikes painted in bright
yellow and blue, and scores of exercisers are busy working out,
to the accompaniment of chants and cheers.
Fatoumata Sane, an accountant, is
doing sit-ups vigorously. She comes here twice a week to work
out. “I face the sea as I work out and breathe in pure air,” she
said. “China has done a marvelous thing for us.”
The equipment that Sane is using was
made in China and installed by the Chinese government as a gift
to the sports-loving Senegalese two years ago.
The Senegalese love for fitness is
embodied by the bronze statue perched on a hill a few minutes’
drive from the beach-turned gym. It depicts an athletic man, a
woman and a child emerging from a volcano.
The 50-meter African Renaissance
Monument, inaugurated in 2010, symbolizes Africa reclaiming its
place, throwing off the shackles of colonialization and racism.
The retrieval of Africa’s own place
and strength is displayed in the field of sports. Several
African countries have achieved fame in track and field events
and the Senegalese football team is one of the three African
teams to reach the World Cup quarter finals.
CHINESE SPORTS EMBRACED
Sports-loving Senegal has also
embraced kung fu and shadowboxing from China, two of the most
popular Chinese culture legacies abroad.
Shadowboxing is one of the most
popular courses in the University of Dakar, where every semester
more than 100 students sign up for the course.
Su Jiaming is one of them. Though he
is Senegalese, he has adopted a Chinese name and prefer to use
that. The college student has been practicing shadowboxing for
over two years and says he got to know China and Chinese culture
through the martial art. Now he plans to study in China.
At the east end of the capital,
another monumental structure is under construction. It is an
arena for traditional Senegalese wrestling, designed by Chinese
companies and being built by them. It will be the largest of its
kind in Africa.
Senegalese have been following the
construction closely since it broke ground in 2016, as
wrestling, a symbol of athletic strength and ability, is a
“We have been dreaming of owning an
arena like this since the founding of our country,” said Amadou
Cisse, a surveyor for the project.
The 50-meter-high and 200-meter-wide
structure is being built on marshland. “It is very challenging,”
Cisse said. “We learnt a lot of advanced techniques from our
The Senegalese have benefited from the
project in many other ways, Cisse said. It has created more than
3,000 jobs locally.
“The Chinese trained me,” said
Abdoulaye Diop, an electrician. He said it will make him in
demand in the labor market after he finishes his work at the
“The project is a result of
China-Senegal exchanges and cooperation,” Cisse said.
CREATING PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE LINKS
The Chinese engagement in Senegal’s
sports is part of the larger picture of growing China-Africa
cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
When Chinese President Xi Jinping
visited South Africa in 2015, he said China and Africa, both of
which boast an ancient and splendid civilization, should learn
from each other in culture, and focus on boosting
people-to-people exchanges, creating links between their youths,
women, think tanks, media organizations and universities.
Greater momentum to the engagement is
anticipated as Xi arrives in Dakar on Saturday, the second stop
in his first overseas trip after being re-elected president in
“It is good news for China-Senegal
cooperation and for their mutually beneficial partnership,”
Sane, the sports-loving accountant, said.