Enock Alu, a Malawian teenager growing up in a Chinese Buddhist orphanage, feels torn between his African roots and Chinese upbringing. Once the star performer with dreams of becoming a martial arts hero like Jet Li, Enock, in his final year of school, has to make some tough decisions about his future. Will he return to his relatives in his home village or study abroad in China? Set against China’s expanding influence on the continent, Buddha in Africa provides a unique insight into the forces of cultural soft power on the identity and imagination of an African boy and his school friends growing up between two cultures.
Writer Victoria Lucke helps us unravel some of the more difficult questions that ‘Buddha in Africa’ raises as she talks to Professor of Sociology Heng-hao Chang (National Taipei University) and Professor Ilan Katz (UNSW Social Policy Research Centre) after the film.