BBC Africa Eye investigation reveals racist videos of African children for sale in China

A secret BBC Africa Eye investigation has revealed how a Chinese syndicate is exploiting vulnerable children in Africa to produce racist videos.

In the 49-minute forensic investigation released on Monday, the documentary showed how Chinese content creators sold videos of children in Malawi who were made to chant racial slurs against black people in Chinese.

In one of the videos shot in February 2020, a group of African children were instructed, by voice-over, to sing phrases in Chinese.


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The children repeat the words with smiles and enthusiasm – but they don’t understand that what they’re being told to say is “I’m a black freak and my IQ is low”.

BBC Eye journalist Runako Celina and Malawian investigative journalist Henry Mhango tracked the digital and field fingerprints of a Chinese filmmaker they suspected of making the ‘low IQ’ video.

They were assisted by a Chinese reporter who filmed undercover, recording the man expressing a series of racist views about Malawians and black people in general.

After analyzing and cross-referencing hundreds of similar videos with satellite images from Google Earth, the BBC Eye team have pinpointed where the ‘Low IQ’ clip was shot: a village on the outskirts of Lilongwe, the capital from Malawi.

Some of the videos identified in the investigation were sold on Chinese social media via Weibo and Huoshan, among other Chinese video-sharing apps.

These videos cost between $10 and $70.

New video evidence filmed by the BBC reveals that the words spoken by children are not only racist, but are often good wishes or advertisements for Chinese companies.

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There are no official figures on the exact number of sellers or the revenue the industry makes from the sale of these videos.

The journalists also met some of the families involved in the filmmaker’s activities and examined how cultural misunderstandings, rural poverty and racist exploitation underpin the video industry.

The grandmother of a child featured in the ‘low IQ’ video told the BBC that the Chinese producer was ‘taking advantage of the poor’.

The investigation has unsettled the video syndicate – but in villages across the continent, African children are still being exploited for profit.

Amos Abba is a journalist at the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in society.

John C. Dent