My China Story | Lukmon Akintola (Nigeria)

As a student of International Relations, the first two sessions of my undergraduate studies were focused on learning the West: history, political-economic ideology as well as culture. For a Champ like me raised and trained in down town Lagos, it is a very good learning adventure. During these days, I had read a lot about Collins Powel for his great achievements in the United States military, I admired Otto Von Bismarck of Germany for his outstanding diplomatic prowess, even though, he authored the partition of Africa in the Berlin Conference of 1884.

However, I had my first encounter with the Asian politics in my third year, when I took a course in understanding the whole political-economic landscape of the Asian continent and most importantly, learning about China. This, undoubtedly, bred the curiosity in me and I was willing to learn more about other continents beyond the West.

My interest in learning China was spurred the famous quote of Napoleon Bonaparte, “China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move the world.”During the penultimate session of my undergraduate days, my little findings on Chinese history, domestic policies and its well articulated foreign policies made me fall in love with China. Specifically, my interest for China increased after understanding how China grew out of being a least developed nation to a developed nation that we all see today.

With this understanding, I had always wanted to know more about China beyond what I read on the pages of books and newspapers and beyond what I see on TV screen. I had always wanted to interact with Professors and students in China to learn how their nation survived and rise to what it is today. I had always wanted to learn how the rich Chinese culture was consciously integrated to its foreign policy and I had always wanted to learn Chinese Mandarin. These are the fantasies that I wanted as a young undergraduate.

Upon graduation in 2016, Iyanu, a classmate of mine that we shared the same dream travelled to Shanghai to learn Mandarin for over a year. While she was studying in China, I was doing my compulsory military service (NYSC), lucky Iyanu would call to tell me how interesting China is and how all discussions we had on China surpassed her expectations. In her words, ‘Lukmon, you need to be here to learn what China really means. This is a place to be”. All I can do was to laugh over it because I had no fund to sponsor my study in China.

Since I could not afford to study in China, I started applying for scholarships. I remember applying for Schwarzman scholarship in 2017 and 2018 but I was not lucky. I applied to schools in Shanghai too but no luck. However, my interest in China keeps getting stronger. I follow every trend of news on issues relating to China and Africa. I write and analyse Sino-Africa relations anytime I have the opportunity to do so. Within my peers, I had earned an adulterated Chinese version of my name called ‘Luk Chi Mon’.

Interestingly, Yenching Academy of Peking University gave me an opportunity I had always wanted all my life. Gaining a scholarship to study at Yenching Academy is a dream come true. Being a policy analyst and peace advocate, I believe that Sino-Africa relations should spur prosperity for China and Africa. Thus, with YCA, I want to make deep study of Chinese domestic and foreign policy with keen focus on how it has deepen China’s prosperity. I equally want to focus on how Chinese policies will spur sustainable development in Africa, specifically, my home country, Nigeria.

There is no gainsaying that studying at YCA will make me learn more about the rich Chinese culture and learn more about its history. More importantly, my stay at YCA will make me learn Mandarin as I will effectively interact with Chinese natives that will be my family for the next two years.

A scholarship to study at YCA is an opportunity I will forever live to cherish. Traveling to Beijing will be my first time of travelling out of the shores of my home country, it is a rare opportunity and I will definitely make it count; for my personal development as well as the development of my home country and Africa.

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