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Home >> Life
UPDATED: 08:20, November 03, 2006
Children of the master voyager?
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Chinese ceramics discovered on the eastern coast of Kenya are being investigated by Chinese and African archaeologists.

Some of the ceramics could date back to as early as the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), said sources with the State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

The administration sent a team of experts to Kenya last week, under an agreement signed in 2005 for joint research into cultural relics from China.

Meanwhile archaeologists from Kenya's national museum have been probing the discovery of the ceramics, including inspecting remote villages where Chinese descendents may reside.

They believe the relics may have been left behind after master voyager Zheng He's (1371-1435) voyage to East Africa some 600 years ago.

A three-year plan, submitted by the Kenyan researchers, outlines a joint research project into the relics and their origins.

According to a legend from Kenya's Lamu Island, two of the Chinese ships in Zheng He's fleet struck rocks off the eastern coast of Kenya and 20 sailors swam ashore. They are said to have stayed, married local women and converted to local customs. Some locals claim to have Chinese blood. A young woman by the name of Mwamaka Sharifu had a lock of her mother's hair DNA tested last year and concluded that she is partly of Chinese descent.

Africa's best-known symbols

The Sahara Desert and the Great Pyramid at Giza are the two symbols most likely to come to mind when Chinese people are asked about Africa.

According to an ongoing survey by CCTV4 and several other media organizations, the pyramid and desert top the list of 10 symbols that represent the continent in Chinese minds.

The survey is part of a drive by media outlets across China to enhance public knowledge of Africa.

In online polls at Sina and Xinhuanet, the Sahara, the world's largest desert, and the ancient wonder of the Giza Pyramid have so far got the highest number of votes.

Other landmarks in the top 10 include the Nile, the most famous river on the continent; Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest mountain; the African elephant, the world's largest land mammal; and Nelson Mandela, South Africa's iconic freedom fighter.

Voters were asked to pick between 25 candidates on the list, including animals such as the lion and zebra, places including the rain forest, Lake Victoria, and Madagasca, and ancient figures like the Sphinx and Queen Cleopatra.

Help is at hand

Beijing's China-Africa summit has been accompanied by an outpouring of welcoming spirit, as locals help to make life easy for the guests.

In the city's busier metro stations, dozens of college students have put up signs volunteering information for non-Chinese-speaking travellers. Many of the volunteers are from the North China Electric Power University and major in foreign languages.

Source: China Daily


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