“Hong Kong’s trade with Africa gives off a peculiar sound – of packing tape being torn off a reel, and at Chungking Mansions the noise goes on deep into the night. Lagos … rip, rip. Nairobi … rip, rip. Abidjan … rip, rip. Hundreds of boxes are trussed up in China’s ubiquitous woven plastic fabric, called simply “red-white-blue”, and destinations scrawled on the side in black marker pen.
“Hey, Obama!” A Pakistani mobile phone trader, standing amid a drift of discarded mobile phone boxes, calls out to a passing Nigerian trader.
“Yes, Osama?” he replies.
“Yeah, Osama and Obama,” the phone trader shoots a wry smile. “Together we’re going to change the world!””