Residents of Abuja and Niger State, largely drawn from the student population and friends of China, converged on the China Cultural Centre, Wuse 2, Abuja, on January 25, 2019, to share in the joy of the People’s Republic of China as it commemorated the annual Chinese Spring Festival.
The China Temple Fair was one of the events marking the festival. And the event lived up to its billings. The venue was filled to capacity with almost everyone present queuing to have a taste of Chinese cuisine.
Diplomats turned out in their numbers to celebrate with China. Different missions and embassies accredited to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) united in celebrating with China.
From the Chinese end was the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian and the Director, China Cultural Centre, Li Xuda. On the Nigeria side was the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC), Otunba Olusegun Runsewe, who doubles as the Chairman of China-Africa Association and chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Buba Yakub, representing Gombi/Hong Federal Constituency, Adamawa State.
The Lion Dance opened the stage, closely followed by winners of the 2020 China-Nigeria Cultural Fiesta. They were Government Girls Secondary School, Dutse, Abuja; Government Day Secondary School, Dutse Alhaji, Abuja; Government Secondary School, Apo, Abuja; Rahaman International School, Suleja, Niger State; and Government Secondary School, Jabi Abuja. They all performed Chinese songs and dance with Nigerian cultural dance.
Another presentation followed immediately from the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) Cultural Troupe. They presented a cultural dance, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the Gbagyi people of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
The Patrick Otoro Production (POP) also lightened the stage with a movie titled “Friends.” The drama had Chinese song presentation, Nigerian song presentation, with a play that showed competition between Nigeria and China. The play ended with a message of a win-win situation; that both Nigeria and China are friends and that in their engagements, there is no winner, no loser, which translates to the fact that the diplomatic relations between Nigeria and China has no winner, nor loser.
Prizes were also won during the Temple Fair by guests who participated in the various dance performances that were showcased. All kinds of Chinese cuisines from over 20 restaurants within Abuja also made the ceremony worthwhile.
Chinese movies were also not left out during the fair. Schoolchildren were entertained with “Born in China,” while adults had the feel of the moment with “The wondering Earth.”
The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), were not left out. Donations were made in cash, foodstuffs, clothings, et cetera by Chinese companies, organised by the China General Chamber of Commerce.
Yakub described the Chinese Spring Festival as historical and colourful: “It is very historical and I asked the ambassador today, he said he does not even know when it started. So, it is as long as the history of China. And it is very colourful. You can see people come together to celebrate and a lot of cultures are being displayed.”
An elated Pingjian said the cultural exchange between Nigeria and China is very important to increase and build understanding:
“And this year is a fresh start for China and a fresh start for China-Africa relations. This is the 60 years. The new decade coincides with the year of the rat. And the year of the rat is a start of the 12-year-cycle of Chinese zodiac. And this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
“We believe, it is a promising year. China-Nigeria’s relations are productive. We are expecting more benefit outcomes from our cooperation in all areas, including culture.”