“The Chinese dream will be more easily accepted by foreign audiences when it is manifested in small and touching stories”
Meng Jian (Professor at Fudan University)
Since yesterday, 14th of December 2013, a new series has entered the Senegalese houses: 媳妇的美好时代, translated as “A beautiful daughter-in-law Era” in english and “Doudou et ses belles-mères” in French.
The story of Mao Doudou, a hospital nurse, and Yu Wei, a photographer, started in 2009 in China . This series has been shown in Tanzania (2011) and Kenya (2012). After a real success in African English-speaking countries, the Chinese government and Radio Chine International decided to target French-speaking African countries. The first experiment is in Senegal with 18 Senegalese artists who gave their voices for the 36 episodes. This Senegalese version should be broadcasted in the rest of Francophone Africa.
This Chinese strategy of influence is part of Beijing’s soft power policies in Africa. These Chinese media, film, series… broadcasted in Africa aim at creating bridges between Chinese and African in order to facilitate exchanges. In a speech in March 2013 in Dar Es-Salaam (Tanzania), Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China stated that « A beautiful daughter-in-law Era » enables Tanzanian to understand the Chinese population and way of life . To discover the Chinese way of life through small and simple stories reduces cultural differences. In this type of series, the viewer shares exactly the same human concerns and feelings as the actors, from wherever they are. The head of the Senegalese actors’ delegation, Mariama Sylla, explained that after their trip in China, they realized how the Chinese and the Senegalese were culturally close to each other .
Few questions remain: Why China has chosen to first experiment this series in non-Francophone Africa? Why Tanzania was the first country of this soft power strategy? Why Senegal is the first French-speaking country to broadcast this series? Why Senegalese actors have been chosen to be the French voices?
Click here for Meng Jian citation. For the official website of the series in Chinese, click here.  For a report of the speech of Xi Jinping in Dar es Salaam in english, click here.  For the artice about the Senegalese experience in French, click here.