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Africa fetes friend as new year begins

By Edith Mutethya | China Daily | Updated: 2020-02-03 07:31
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Workers on the construction site of the Thwake Dam Project in Kenya on Jan 22 were intent on ensuring that Lunar New Year would be celebrated in style.[Photo/Xinhua]

Janet Wayua could barely hide her excitement after attending a Spring Festival event at the Two Rivers Mall in Nairobi during the traditional Lunar New Year.

"I love Chinese culture and this was a good opportunity to learn more together with my children," she said. "I was happy to sample Chinese cuisine and learn about the culture behind the dumplings."

In collaboration with the Chinese embassy in Kenya, the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi and the Erdemann Chinese Culture Centre, Two Rivers Mall organized a five-day event that included a Chinese cultural exhibition, a costumes photo booth, a children zodiac center, Chinese cuisine exhibition and new year dragon and lion dances.

In addition to being able to enjoy her three children lapping up the event, Wayua was able to take advantage of hefty price cuts offered at the mall.

She expressed gratitude for the deepening relationship between China and Kenya that has exposed rich Chinese culture to the locals and said she hoped Kenya could take China's lead in developing local culture and traditions.

From Jan 18 many African countries in conjunction with local Chinese embassies, Chinese communities, Confucius Institutes and local businesses organized events to mark the Lunar New Year. Among the venues for celebrations were South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana and Mauritius.

In South Africa many Chinese and locals gathered at Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg on Jan 19 to celebrate as the Year of the Rat approached.

The attendees were entertained with dance, music, acrobatics, a kung fu show, a Chinese tea art show and Sichuan opera face-changing.

Lin Songtian, the Chinese ambassador to South Africa, said the Spring Festival event was important in building the relationship between the two countries and also gave locals the chance to learn about Chinese culture.

The previous day the Chinese embassy in Pretoria organized a similar event, bringing together hundreds of guests including senior government officials, political activists, academics and school children among others.

Tanzanians joined their Chinese friends in celebrating the Lunar New Year at the Chinese-built Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre in Dar es Salaam, on Jan 19.

George Simbachawene, the minister of state in the vice-president's office, commended China for pulling 700 million people out of poverty over the past 40 years.

Tanzania has much to learn from China not only on poverty eradication but also on fighting corruption, Simbachawene said.

"In recent years, mutual political trust between the two countries has deepened, and exchanges and cooperation between governments, political parties and legislatures have become closer," Xinhua News Agency quoted Simbachawene as saying.

Zhao Yanbo, the Chinese ambassador to Botswana, hosted guests including many Chinese to a reception and art performance at the Gaborone International Convention Centre on Jan 21 as part of the Spring Festival celebrations.

Zhao commended China-Botswana relations, which he said were entering a period that presented important opportunities for stronger growth.

Dr Unity Dow, the minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said human development, poverty eradication and job creation remains the guiding objective of China-Botswana diplomatic relations.

Botlhe Dikobe in Gaborone contributed to this story.

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