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Jamie Monson is a Professor of History and Director of the African Studies Center at Michigan State University. A recognised researcher and scholar, Monson’s efforts have established her as a pioneer in China–Africa development studies. Her book, Africa’s Freedom Railway: How a Chinese Development Project Changed Lives and Livelihoods in Tanzania (2009), explores the TAZARA Railway, which was built with Chinese development aid in the 1970s. She has also created TAZARA Stories (2021), a documentary film based on life histories of TAZARA Railway workers in Tanzania, Zambia, and China. Monson is currently writing about the history of East African women’s delegations to China in the twentieth century and has launched a new book project titled Looking East: Africa’s Historical Engagement with China. Monson serves as Chairwoman of the Board of the Chinese in Africa/Africans in China Research Network (CA/AC) and is currently heading a new global initiative, ‘Building Trans-Regional Connections among Africa, Asia and Latin America’, which seeks to establish new scholarly paradigms for international studies.

Learning by Heart
: Training for Self-Reliance on the TAZARA Railway, 1968–1976

Giving the instructions carefully over and over again,
Teaching hand-in-hand.

Old Qiao took up a pile of mud
And molded it into a few machine parts as examples.

— ‘Snapshots of Workplace Lessons’, 
友谊的彩虹 [The Rainbow of Friendship], Renmin Wenxue Chubanshe, Shanghai (1976) In the summer of 2010, I stayed for several weeks in the Tanzanian town of Mang’ula, […]

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