Last month, the Confucius Institute, of the University of Lagos, celebrated Chinese culture and tradition. The tradition is gaining grounds, with May every year dedicated to it. At the opening ceremony of the 2016 edition, students drawn from primary and secondary schools in Lagos had staff and students of the institute entertaining them with different Chinese cultural performances, some of which were diluted with Nigerian flavours. There were dances, music and choreography. Each display had costumes that added colour to the presentations.
While speaking on the celebration, the Nigerian Director of Confucius Institute, University of Lagos, Prof. Segun Awonusi, noted that the activities of the institute include promotion of Chinese culture, especially the teaching of Mandarin language. He said Chinese Culture Month is part of the cooperation and bilateral relations between Nigerian and China, adding that it is one of the reasons for the formation of the institute.
Awonusi also said that University of Lagos is the first in the country where a degree programme in Chinese is offered, noting, “So, we have a lot of close cooperation and part of our activities in the institute is what we call the Chinese Culture Month designated for the promotion of Mandarin. During this period, people who want to learn Mandarin and Chinese within a short period can do so.
“We also have a lot of cultural activities. There will be film shows across Lagos, a road show, and a lot of dancing and singing, choreography, all those things that come together to build culture. It is to showcase the best of Chinese culture, not that it is a superior culture to that of Nigeria, not at all, but that we do respect their culture, as they, too, respect ours”.
He commended the performances by the Nigerian students, especially those that added some Nigerian flavour to their presentations, saying it showed that “while we appreciate Chinese culture, there is a domestication of the culture for greater understanding and appreciation”.
The Cultural Counsellor, Embassy of the Peoples’ Republic of China in Nigeria, Mr. Yan Xiangdong, also said the month is meant to promote understanding among the two cultures and peoples, saying, “it is good for the relationship between the two countries”.
Xiangdong stated that sometime in 2013, Nigerians were in China to also showcase the country’s culture through the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which was well appreciated by the Chinese.
He, however, has some words for the government, “Nigeria economy is at present having some challenges, and Nigerian government, as a result of the drop in revenue due to drop in oil prices, is focusing on culture and tourism, including the creative industry, which is good”.
Xiangdong called on the government to pay more attention and invest a lot in that area, as it would yield fruits. He also commended the presentations by the Nigerian students.
The Chinese director of the University of Lagos, Confucius Institute, Wang Yongjing, said that celebrating the cultural month has become a tradition for the institute since 2009, when the institute was set up. She said that though the celebration is usually every May, this year’s celebration was shifted to June because of the students protect last month, which disrupted activities on the campus of the University of Lagos.
He said it is a whole month celebration that included showing Chinese films across the state, giving publicity to the winter Olympic among other activities
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