Around the Great Wall-My Chinese Journey

Eugene Makokha
Written by Eugene Makokha
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I had only heard her voice over the phone.

Now, there she was, my Chinese teacher. I was more afraid of the Chinese itself though. Many people admire Chinese but a small percentage have the interest to learn this magical language. Learning Chinese is like entering a new world. Its an initiation process all the same.

The Chinese had a clever way of representing objects, feelings and thoughts on paper. They are not just words on paper, they are creatively curved out symbols to represent in some circumstances, a whole sentence in a single character.


“Ni hao means hello”, she went on.

I do not remember my first pronunciation though, all am sure is that it is now better and continues to be better.

“Ni Hao’

The first Chinese i ever heard. The teacher spoke no more in Chinese. She kept saying sweet words about China and the importance of having an interest in Chinese, let alone learning it. Her medium was both English and Swahili. I was moved.

It was an evening class and the whole building was silent for the last lecture at college to end. The watchman was perhaps waiting on us before having a nap. The evening was cold. The only Chinese word i learnt that evening meant hello. I only discovered later on, that my teacher used that first lesson to gauge whether i was sincerely serious in choosing to study Chinese.

I never regretted my decision.

About the author

Eugene Makokha

Eugene Makokha

Student at Kenyatta University main campus, Kenya.

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