People | 20 QUESTIONS

Patrick Behuhuma: Looking to the future of Africa and Japan

by Claire Williamson

Staff Writer

Name: Patrick Behuhuma
Age: 35
Nationality: Congolese
Occupation: Business development analyst at DMM.Africa and co-host of “PKTime! Edutainment Show”
Likes: Smiling, movies, cooking
Dislikes: Living in the past


1. What first interested you about Japan? I’ve been interested in ninja and samurai-related movies since childhood. So when I had the chance to apply for a scholarship to study abroad, Japan came to mind. I was lucky to be able to come here and complete a master’s degree in public policy at Meiji University.

2. As a business development analyst for the e-commerce site DMM.com, what do you work on? My main role is to promote DMM.com‘s products and services: I do a lot of PR and networking. I recently launched a monthly English-language world news talk show “PKTime! Edutainment Show” with a Japanese partner. I hope it can become part of DMM’s online English conversation service.

3. What makes Africa a lucrative opportunity for Japanese investors? We have resources that Japan doesn’t have, and Japan has the high-quality technology and know-how that we need in Africa. It’s a win-win situation.

4. Have you had any cross-cultural challenges when working with Japanese and African companies? The way of doing business in Japan is very different. First contact — exchanging business cards, meeting styles, trading and marketing strategies etc. — that’s not the same. Additionally, there are also infrastructure and socio-economic challenges to tackle.

5. Where do you see Japan-Africa business relations heading in the future? For the past four years, the African Business Education (ABE) Initiative has empowered about 1,000 young Africans to complete master’s degrees and internships in Japan. I hope such initiatives and cooperation will continue.

6. What’s one thing about working for a Japanese company you’ve gotten used to? Being very patient! The decision-making process is slow.

7. What sort of events do you emcee? I mainly emcee for entertainment events. In May, I emceed at Congo Festival Vol. 1 Tobina na Lingala (“let’s dance” in Lingala, a Congolese national language). In September I’ll emcee a Japanese friend’s wedding ceremony.

8. Are there any African-focused events in Tokyo? Most Africa-related organizations plan festivals every year in Tokyo. I worked with the African Festival Executive Committee on an online radio program “How about AFEC?” to prepare for the African Festival 2018 in Yoyogi Park last July.

9. Have you taken any risks in life? In 2000, I traveled from my hometown (Kisangani) to the capital city (Kinshasa) to study at university. There were ongoing military conflicts where the Congolese government was fighting against two main foreign-supported armed groups.

10. What book would you recommend to someone interested in studying abroad? “How to Work, Travel, and Study in Japan” by Natalia Doan, because every experience is different depending on the country.

11. How do you combat homesickness? By making a lot of friends, meeting them often and creating unforgettable memories. You can always create another family, wherever you are.

12. If you founded your own company, what social need would it fill? Since my academic research was on the prevention of HIV/AIDS, it would be a social lab that would raise funds to support the victims of occupational diseases and work accidents in health care settings.

13. Do you collect anything? International coins, beer bottle caps and, unusually, Japanese toilet signs.

14. If you got a tattoo, what would it be? Oh! Maybe a Congolese flag, on the side of my right bicep! You can’t imagine how much I love Congo.

15. What do you always have in your refrigerator? Beer. I like having a craft beer after a long day to cool down my nerves.

16. If you were an animal, what would you be? I would be an okapi because it’s a unique animal in the Congolese fauna, is very cute and has a very confusing skin pattern (it looks like a zebra, but it’s not).

17. Say you could invite anyone over for dinner. Who would you ask? I’d invite Mr. Ken Watanabe. He is an outstanding Japanese actor. His movie “The Last Samurai” accelerated my coming to Japan.

18. What’s your favorite word or phrase? Mendōkusai, which means troublesome. I like it because it sounds good and because important and helpful things in life are troublesome.

19. What would your personal mascot be? A bonobo, because this ape’s natural habitat is in Congo and it’s the closest animal to humans along with chimpanzees.

20. Do you have any hidden talents? I can make people laugh like crazy but I have never done stand-up comedy. Maybe it’s time to try it out!