Beijing, China, recently hosted the third anniversary of the Appreciate Africa Network Asia-Pacific Awards at the prestigious Beijing Marriot City Wall Hotel.
The awards this year, which honoured Africans in China and across Asia for their respective roles in contributing to the cause of socio-economic development, social services and humanity, featured 27 award categories with a total of 63 Africans and friends of Africa who were nominated for their various contributions in promoting labour, human development and productivity.
Titled “Pride of Africa Awards 2017,” over 1,000 nominees were selected from Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia and across the provinces of China through the online voting platform. Final selections on the eve of the award night had a Nigerian, Mr. Festus Uzoma Mbisiogu, emerging winner under the Community Leadership Category as “Community Champion 2017.”
Mbisiogu was selected for the various roles he has played in China and Nigeria in promoting community development with his self-sponsored community borehole projects, scholarship grants and human capacity development. The projects were done through his Uzotex Foundations. There were other contributions in entrepreneurial mentorship for Nigerian immigrants in China.
Mbisiogu, a China-based businessman and a pioneer member of the Nigeria in Diaspora Association (NIDO-China), picked the Community Champion award for the second time alongside other Nigerians who were recognised for their outstanding achievements in entertainment, culinary services and academics.
At the maiden edition in 2014, only two Nigerians made it to the top category. Mr. Festus Mbisiogu was the first to be honoured in the business and community leadership category, while Njoku Saint Jerry A. of LensAfrik Media Group was honoured for outstanding achievement in media, promoting China-Africa relations. This year had three Nigerians emerge winners among the nominees that produced several ties between some country representatives.
Speaking at the end of the occasion, Mr. O.O. Orevba, charge d’affaires, Embassy of Nigeria, Beijing, commended the recipients for their commitment in promoting the image of Nigeria in China. He said it had been the yearning of the embassy to see Nigerians doing the nation proud in their various vocations in China. He recalled that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Matters, Mrs. Abike Dabiri, had just visited Beijing to drum support for the Nigerian government among Nigerians in Diaspora.
In her opening remarks, the president and founder of Appreciate Africa Network, Dr. Samantha Sibanda, noted that: “Asia and Africa’s relationship has too often been marred with stories of misconception, especially in China, where the image of Africa is often portrayed in negative impressions. There is often little acknowledgement of the value of the African voices, talent and contributions in countries such as China and India. As a result, you could understand our excitement when we found out about these individuals who are making us proud in their various endeavours. This is why we refer to the event as the Pride of Africa Asia Pacific Awards.”
The event had various African diplomats and ambassadors in attendance. They included the Dean of African Ambassadors to China, Madagascar’s Ambassador Victor Sikonina, and Ambassador of Namibia to Malaysia, Mrs. Namakau Mutelo. She was nominated for the African Personality of the Year Award, Asia Pacific, but emerged winner, African Woman of the Year Award. There were also several Asia-Pacific and various China-Africa stakeholders in attendance.
The event served as a platform to create a relationship between Africa and Asia, not only in business and bilateral relations but also in appreciating African people and their contributions to the growing success of China-Africa relations. It was also to address a stereotyping of Diaspora Africans in China as immigrants with unimpressive stories of crime and neglect.