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Chinese language and culture gradually taking root in Kenya

By Otiato Opali in Nairobi, Kenya | | Updated: 2022-04-10 11:04
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Willis Gitau, a student at the Kenyatta University, in Nairobi, Kenya, showcases some of his kung fu skills during the Chinese language learning event in Nairobi. [Photo by Otiato Opali/ China Daily]

China and Kenya's deepening intercultural exchanges are evident in the growing interest in the Chinese language and culture among students and the general populace.

Speaking during a Chinese learning event in Nairobi on Friday, Charles Nzivo, the deputy director at the Kenya National Library Service, said more Kenyans have been showing interest in the Chinese culture and come to libraries to particularly learn more about China over the past 10 years.

The event, whose purpose was to celebrate Chinese language as a meaningful and diverse language worth pursuing and learning, was attended by library staff members, students from various schools and Confucius Institutes across the country and members of the public.

Nelly Nabwire, a worker in the Kenyan tourism industry who attended the event, said that after graduating with her degree in tourism, her knowledge in the Chinese language played a great role in landing her a job.

"While in college, I studied the Chinese language through the Confucius Institute alongside my main degree program and once I graduated, I managed to get a job with a tour firm that mostly caters to Chinese tourists," Nabwire said.

"Since most of our clients are Chinese, my knowledge of the Chinese language and culture makes it easy for me to offer them the best service as they tour the beautiful destinations all across our country," she added.

According to Nabwire, the seed of interest in the Chinese language was planted long ago and as younger generations mature so does the number of Chinese speaking Kenyans grow.

"My interest in the language developed 10 years ago when my sister, who was learning the language, started teaching me a few words. That is why once I joined university I ensured that I enrolled for the Chinese language class through the Confucius Institute," Nabwire said.

Participants decorate masks in an activity to appreciate and understand the Peking Opera. [Photo by Otiato Opali/ China Daily]

"Now that I have studied the language and I am making a living out of it, my younger siblings and cousins have become interested too and would also like to get such opportunities. As more youth get attracted to studying the Chinese language, the local population gets to understand Chinese culture and way of life more."

Liu Zhenyu, the representative from China's embassy in Kenya at the event, thanked the Kenya National Library service for organizing the event and pledged that the embassy will make its book donations a yearly event as it continues to support cultural exchanges between the two countries.

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