LAGOS – Emmanuel Iyayi’s love of China, its culture and language began early when he watched kung fu films as a child in his native Nigeria. Now 26, that enthusiasm has paid off.
“I am a translator, an interpreter for Nigerian and Chinese businessmen and I also compere at Chinese events,” Iyayi, who also goes by the Chinese name Kong Yi, told AFP. “All these generate good money for me. I am happy with the pay I get and this has transformed my life tremendously.”
Iyayi isn’t alone in being able to reap the benefits of knowing a language that few of his compatriots speak, given Nigeria’s historic preference for learning European tongues such as French.
Grace Moses teaches and translates Mandarin when she is not studying in her final year at the Confucius Institute at the University of Lagos (Unilag).
“I get a lot of job opportunities from Nigerians who have businesses with Chinese people,” said the 25-year-old, likening herself to a go-between for local and Chinese businesses.