By Magnus Eze
ALast Saturday actually showed what the Lunar New Year means to the Chinese wherever they are when the Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China and the China Cultural Centre in Nigeria hosted the 2017 Chinese New Year, otherwise called Spring Festival in Abuja.
The event which took place at the Chinese Cultural Centre in Wuse Zone 5 attracted the Chinese community in Nigeria, members of the diplomatic corps and their Nigerian friends. The festival was used to send off the frigid winter and welcome the bright and beautiful spring; the Chinese in Nigeria also expressed their hopes of emerging freshness with wishes for posterity and happiness in the New Year.
It was a scenic display of the rich cultural endowments of China and Nigeria; with school children from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) performing arts of the two cultures. Nigerian children also performed the popular Chinese Lion Dance, while Chinese artists rendered Chinese songs as well as played such Chinese traditional instruments as flute, guqin and pipa.
To make the merriment full, guests were also treated to some dose of delicious Chinese food, in addition to a tour of photo exhibition on China.
This reflection of the Chinese philosophical belief of the “union of man and nature” had as its theme: “joy and harmony, dialogue and sharing.”
Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Zhou Pingjian told Daily Sun that the Spring Festival was an opportunity to highlight the core values of natural harmony, family reunion, spiritual connection and worldwide festivity, adding that a totem is usually chosen and celebrated each year: “I am so happy to be here to spend our spring festival with our Nigerian friends. According to the Chinese zodiac, we have a cycle of twelve years. Each year, we choose an animal as a symbol of that year; last year was year of the monkey and this year is for the rooster; next year will be another animal.
“This special occasion of spring festival affords us opportunity to display how we cherish the unity of the people; of the country. We cherish unity and family reunion; at the family level, unity is the most important thing; the same at the national level.”
He thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for the goodwill message sent on behalf of the Government and people of Nigeria to the Chinese Community in Nigeria and the Chinese world over: “In his message, President Buhari said while China was developing very fast; Chinese people still maintain traditional values. In this field, China and Nigeria share the same value; we value family reunion; we value unity.”
The Chinese envoy said with the joint cultural performances by Nigerians and Chinese, the people had shared the joyous moments together; interacted with each other for friendship, for goodwill and shared each other’s light moments: “This forms the basis for bilateral relations, because for every bilateral relation, we seek the public support of the people. We have to facilitate the better understanding between people from both sides.”
Ambassador Pingjian expressed the optimism that the diplomatic relations between both countries will be further strengthened this year, especially with the recent successful visit to Nigeria by the Chinese Foreign Minister; Wang Yi.
Noting that Nigeria is the only African country to have been visited since 1991 by five consecutive Chinese Foreign Ministers, the ambassador said “We are ready to even work closer with the Nigerian people to promote agriculture, manufacturing, solid minerals and none the least, infrastructural development; to strengthen our cooperation in these areas; and culture and defence among other things. The good news is that through this visit; both sides have strengthened our political mutual trust remarkably and this is very important. This has laid more solid foundation for our practical cooperation.”
The Ambassador of Ukraine to Nigeria, Dr. Valerii Aleksandruk, who was on hand to identify with the Chinese community, wished them good luck in their New Year.
Companies from the China Chamber of Commerce in Nigeria also had opportunity to exhibit their products and services.
A Chinese businesswoman resident in Abuja, Ms Ping Zhao could not hold back her joy for seeing yet another spring.
Vivacious Zhao was all over the premises, using her phone to video record the sequence of activities. She was thrilled by the spectacular display by FCT students who performed Nigerian dances; namely, Igbo, Hausa/Fulani and Tiv; and including those that performed the Chinese Lion Dance.
Daily Sun gathered from the Cultural Section of the Embassy, that the New Year celebrations are symbolic of the cultural tradition, heritage and aesthetic aspirations of the of the Chinese nation, abounding in distinctive Chinese symbols of great emotional appeal.
“The tradition of such celebrations in China dates back more than four thousand years and includes displaying Chinese New Year Couplets, playing fireworks, preparing jiaozi (Chinese dumplings) and having the family reunion dinner on the New Year’s Eve,” the cultural section stated.