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Souls of Chinese Constructors Live with Their Works in Africa
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In Tanzania and Zambia, there are two cemeteries where 87 Chinese nationals are buried, having left not only the famous cross-border railway and other constructions, but also their souls in soil far from their homeland.


In the cemetery about 24 kilometers from Dar es Salaam, 66 Chinese engineers and workers were laid to rest, including 47 who lost their lives while building the Tanzania-Zambia railway that runs nearby.


Zhang Mincai, who died in 1967, was the first Chinese expert who dedicated his life to China's assistance projects in Tanzania.


Working as a hydrogeologist along the Ruvuma River in the south of Tanzania, he was stung and poisoned to death by wild wasps when he went to find suitable drinking water for humans and livestock from local farms.


Hundreds of local people were present at his funeral.


The railway project ran nearly five years and was completed in 1975.


Li Jingpu, who left China while his wife was expecting their second child, was the highest ranking official who died during the construction of the 1,860-kilometer railway running from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to New Kapili Mposhi in Zambia.


The Chinese engineer was the team leader of the tunneling contingent.


In a letter to his wife, Li told her to take good care of herself because their children needed a healthy mom to look after them.


Those were his last words left to his family. He died in a traffic accident while moving from one construction site to another.


In April 1973, Li Xinmin died of heart attack on an ocean-liner heading for Tanzania.


To honor the railway constructor with a sense of being at home, a sea-burial followed before the ship entered international waters.


Ever since the establishment of these two cemeteries for Chinese martyrs, the Chinese embassies in Tanzania and Zambia have been organizing Chinese nationals who happen to work in these two African countries to pay their homage every year in early May to those who have been buried there.


Li Lin, manager of the representative office of a Chinese corporation in Dar es Salaam, said that as a Chinese working in Tanzania, he simply felt duty-bound to visit the cemetery to pay his respects to all those who had died for the cause of others, and who could never go back to their homeland, or even be buried in China with their loved ones.


(Xinhua News Agency October 18, 2006)

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