'Welcome to Milele,' a heartfelt tribute to China
来源：Take a peek at Leopard Network 时间：2023-12-05 20:42:38
Promotional photo for Welcome to Milele Photo: Courtesy of Playing Youth
Thecute women's wallets China-Africa cooperative TV project Welcome to Milele has garnered widespread acclaim, not only captivating Chinese audiences but also resonating with viewers in Africa.
The show is about Chinese medical aid teams as they extend healing hands in Africa, forging profound friendships with the local people.
The production team said the drama possesses a global vision, showcasing China's humanitarian spirit on the world stage. Timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and also the 60th anniversary of China dispatching its first medical team to Africa, the series highlights the selfless dedication of Chinese medical teams serving abroad in Africa.
Liang Zhenhua, chief scriptwriter and chief producer, told the Global Times he picked the word "Milele" as part of the drama name is because Swahili is the indigenous language of Africa, and "Milele" is the phonetic translation of the Swahili word for "forever," representing China's commitment to foreign medical aid. Milele Village serves as the medical team's base, signifying both a permanent and warm promise from the Chinese people to their African friends.
Drama based on reality
Liang said himself and some crew members participated in the project partly due to their medical and family backgrounds. They know the monumental significance carried by China's foreign medical aid teams over the past sixty years.
Zambian actor John Kawawa Kadichi, who plays the student of protagonist Ma Jia in the drama, told the Global Times that he chose the project not only because of the BRI anniversary but also because his mother works in the medical industry. He also felt resonance with the character's life as an African child who came to China to study and then went back to his home country.
From grand narratives to intricate details, the inspiration for the drama stems from the authenticity of real-life experiences.
Liang emphasized the unprecedented dedication, saying the effort required was "equivalent to that of five regular dramas."
Acknowledging the challenges of presenting the themes in an engaging way for Chinese-African audiences, the scriptwriting team focused on crafting vibrant characters and integrating elements from both cultures.
Welcome to Milele avoids glorifying the stereotypical image of doctors, and portrays the intricate and realistic journeys of individuals in adapting to unique environments, navigating relationships, and addressing emotional and professional challenges. The medical elements, laden with suspense and life-and-death situations, drive the story's rhythm and intensity.
For example, the character Ma Jia is portrayed as an imperfect doctor who chooses Africa partly as a means of psychological escape. However, his experiences with the foreign medical aid team profoundly affect him.
According to Liang, the creative team conducted a month-long research trip in Africa, preceded by nearly a year of interviews with hundreds of Chinese medical professionals who worked in Africa. The in-depth exploration involved visits to three medical teams, five hospitals of varying levels, and observation of over eight surgical procedures. Numerous interviews provided profound insights. The story underwent substantial modifications and enrichments based on this research, solidifying its foundation in realism.
In the course of filming in Africa, the team paid a special visit to the cemetery of Chinese experts in Dar es Salaam, where Chinese martyrs who sacrificed their lives during the construction of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (Tazara) are interred. A scene was crafted to pay homage to this history, showcasing the exchange ceremony between two medical teams.
Showcasing China's humanitarian spirit
The TV series features extensive cross-border filming, and adopts a combination of domestic and African shoots. The meticulous reconstruction of Milele Village in South China's Hainan Province was complemented by authentic African scenery, streets, and buildings.
Following the completion of domestic filming, the production organized a 178-member crew for on-location shooting in Africa, marking the largest-scale overseas filming project in Chinese television history. The governments of Tanzania and Zanzibar, along with various local departments in healthcare, security, transportation, cultural preservation, and tourism, demonstrated significant trust and assistance in facilitating the filming.
During the filming, Kadichi said the local actors from Tanzania were impressed by his fluent Chinese.
"A lot of people would ask me the 'secrets' to learning Chinese. But there is no secret to learning anything. Life is not that easy," he said.
The drama can be watched on YouTube with English subtitles, and Kadichi said he has received some compliments from his friends in Africa.
"They definitely know about it because Tanzania was one of the first countries that China went to in Africa for this whole project. So Tanzanians have been always grateful to China. Tanzania and Zambia have a rail line that was built by the Chinese people in the 1960s, and they always show their appreciation until today," he said.
Since the dispatch of the first foreign medical aid team to Algeria in 1963, China has sent over 30,000 medical team members to 76 countries and regions, establishing more than 130 medical and healthcare facilities and treating nearly 300 million patients, saving countless lives.
Liang emphasized that this series possesses an international language, showcasing China's humanitarian spirit on the global stage. The drama also avoids condescending attitudes, opting for an equal dialogue between the two civilizations.
He revealed that in the future, the series will be translated into Swahili and broadcast on television stations in several African countries, including Tanzania.