“You must be rich to study in Hong Kong”…

Well, this is another opinion piece about Chinese people I have met during my stay in Hong Kong (disclaimer, *the ones I have met, I am not generalising at all). I cannot count the number of times I have been asked how I ended up in Hong Kong and how I must be rich to have made it in Hong Kong. I am tired of explaining my “African” presence to Chinese people who know nothing about Africans and their work ethic, but I will try in this blog (sigh).

So I am African and I must come from a “noble” family to be able to afford to study in Hong Kong. Granted, Hong Kong is a very expensive place to live and to study and I get where these sentiments may be coming from, but forgive me if I note a bit of condescending in this too. What makes you (Chinese people I have met) think that an African cannot afford to study in Hong Kong? That they must have some “royal” blood to be able to secure a place in a Hong Kong university? I mean that just sounds ridiculous and insulting.

Image credit…bitmoji app


Africans have been studying in so many other cosmopolitan cities for years and how they do it, in my opinion, is purely hard work and dedication. You think I just woke up one day with a ticket to Hong Kong handed to me? You insult my intelligence and qualifications. I blame the narrative that has been put out there about Africans as these poor, down-trodden beings who cannot amount to anything unless they are royalty. I mean what royalty? Do you even know if there is a royal family in the country I am from? Oh, I forgot…you think Africa is a country. (sigh)

Let me clarify…I am in Hong Kong because I worked hard to be here. I got the place at my university on merit and how I can afford it is really not your business.  You should be asking me how we can work together to motivate others to chase their dreams and work hard, not spread the myth that for Africans to be among you they must be rich. That is ignorant!!! I absolutely hate it when human beings stereotype other human beings just because they are different and put them in these messy little boxes.  Yes, I wish I came from a rich family and that was the reason why I am in Hong Kong, because that would fit right into the box you want to put me in. But, truth is, I don’t come from a rich family. Now you can scratch your head wondering how it is that I am here breathing the same air that you are breathing.

*If I sound angry, it is because I am!!


Image credit: bitmoji app


12 thoughts on ““You must be rich to study in Hong Kong”…

  1. …to be candid, ignorance is not an excuse to start with. Africa is likely portraited in a different light begging the question for further research studies. Good observation with a well tailored analysis 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks Eddie, I agree with you. For lack of a better explanation I thought ignorance is the only possible one but there is that issue of how we are represented in general. that narrative needs to change. thanks for reading 😊


  2. Glad I found your post from Campus Moments. I’ve lived here myself since 2014 and I try to notice a lot of things as well. I am a Canadian-born Chinese and I feel that even I struggle and that there is assumptions made based on my “appearance” (look like a HK’er) and my nationality (my parents must be rich so they could have left). Hong Kong is a really eyeopener and I’m so glad you brought this to light!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks so much for reading Charmaine and yes it has been an eye-opener living in HK. lots of stereotypes and it doesn’t look like it will get better any time soon

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello GG. As a local Hongkonger, I share your frustration! After living aboard for a few years, I am very sensitive toward race-related issues. So your anger is well justified!
    But to comfort you, I can tell you the local population is extremely ignorant about race. They received virtually no education about this topic, and normally are explicitly racist even toward themselves. Example, would be that my friends keep telling me how “lucky” I am that I can sleep with white people. I feel insulted from top to bottom but mostly I just nod or say something else. They have no idea what they are actually saying beside of the “exotic” encounters.
    I hope you will feel better in time!


    1. Sorry my computer seems to be typing its own thing. I meant to say wow, “how lucky” you are to be what? I am getting used to the blatant discrimination, just today a lady refused to sit next to my friend and I in the MTR. It is not an easy place to live but you have to accept that they fear what they don’t know.


      1. You read it right. It is ridiculous but Hongkonger has a very very complicated inferiority complex. On one hand they feel like they are the “superior Chinese” because Hongkongness is basically “Chineseness + Democracy”, “Chineseness + wealth” or “Chineseness + liberty”, but on the other hand they also think it is because of the white (British) that left over so much to them. Plus, the usual media and commercial culture that sexualise and glorify white is also common here, as I am sure you must have noticed.

        In regard to black, it has been a long history of how Chinese people associate themselves as a race that will eventually catch up with the white because they are not “black”, whatever that means. Over a hundred years ago, the scholar Kang Youwei thinks that only Asian can one day become white and those with darker skin colours are not up for the job. Sounds bad, huh?

        You can read more about it on New York Times here: http://www.nytimes.com/1992/04/15/opinion/15iht-eddi.html

        Since I returned to Hong Kong 6 months ago, I have been amazed by many things. Racial discrimination is one of it I guess.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. it gets even worse, LOL.They want to be white one day? that explains a lot then. It does sound really bad and as much as it is hard to accept racism will be around for much longer in our world. I have noticed the treatment of South East Asians, the domestic workers or anyone from mainland, there is this “we are better than you” attitude and no regard whatsoever for anyone they regard as being lesser in their eyes. I wish there could be more awareness but what’s the point right? I don’t want to sound apathetic but Hong Kong case, with how much they advertise their diversity has been a disappointment to me as a black person. Interesting article, thanks for the link

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s