Kenyan wants to bring Shenzhen spirit home

Writer: Liu Wenjin  | Editor: Ye Shangqing  | From:  | Updated: 2019-07-16

Afwata J. Okoko

Coming from Kenya, an East African country thousands of miles from China, Afwata Jacob Okoko sees Shenzhen as a city that shares historical similarities with his home in Africa.

Okoko grew up in a tribe called the Luo, where the people practice fishing as a means of livelihood. Shenzhen’s history of transforming over the past 40 years from a small fishing village to the modern metropolis it is today reminds Okoko of the fishing tradition back home.

“What Shenzhen really did [is] transform from a village within 40 years to a city of the world,” Okoko said. “That spirit of innovation, that spirit of ambition, to do something grand ... I want to explore that Shenzhen spirit, so that I can take it back home.”

Besides finding parallels between Shenzhen’s history and his tribe’s, Okoko also relates to the diverse people he has met in the city, whom he finds also share his tribe’s spirit: putting faith in the search for life’s meaning.

“Where I come from, there is more emphasis on the scholarship of being able to explore the meaning of life,” Okoko said. “And anyone who identifies with such a higher principle is our people.”

Okoko is currently studying at the school of international law at the Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School. Before coming to China, he also studied law in India and Russia.

After obtaining his master’s degree in law in Shenzhen in one year, through an accelerated track in the school’s two-year program, Okoko plans to go back to his home in Africa to give back to his community.

“I’m really looking forward to going back home,” he said. “Because obviously I was a messenger of my people to come and explore this land, then I will have to go back to give the message and what I have learned in this place.”