This study examines 29 Africa-China JVs from 12 African countries to explore the ways in which African partners gain knowledge and learn from their Chinese counterparts. Based on the perspectives of social capital, cultural difference, and informalities, we analyze the strategies, behaviors, and tactics employed by Africans both at the individual and at the organizational levels to gain knowledge within JVs. By using a multiple case study method with semi-structured interviews, we find that African partners actively take advantage of multiple cultural and social capital-related factors to support learning. Africans often use informal, even clandestine, mechanisms to manage cultural differences and build trust in order to gain knowledge. Theoretically, the structural, relational, and cognitive aspects of social capital are found to be important in exploiting opportunities through informal actions and the creation of informal contexts more conducive to learning and knowledge transfer. The presented findings provide new insights into knowledge-seeking JVs, particularly in the Africa-China context, because they propose a not-yet-explored perspective that explains learning through the exploitation of informalities.