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Confucius Institute in Kenya hosts Spring Festival celebrations

By Otiato Opali in Nairobi, Kenya | | Updated: 2023-01-20 20:43
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Zhao Xiyuan, minister counselor at the Chinese embassy in Kenya, addressing guests at the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi on Thursday. He welcomed Kenyans to learn more about Chinese culture. [Photo by Otiato Opali/China Daily]

Following a growing tradition across Africa, the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi in Kenya on Thursday held an elaborate garden party to mark the Chinese Spring Festival that falls on Sunday this year.

During the event, guests were treated to a number of fun activities including dragon and lion dance performances, Kung Fu displays, Chinese traditional songs, samplings of Chinese delicacies and quiz games revolving around the Chinese New Year.

Wang Shangxue, the director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi, was happy that, together with the Chinese embassy in Kenya, the Confucius Institute was able to hold a bigger festival this year which included students from other colleges and several secondary schools. She added that the cultural activities carried out during the celebrations are essential to show China's long-standing traditional culture.

Jamila Mwende, a secondary school student from the Brookehouse Academy, could not hide her excitement at attending her first Spring Festival event. Being a member of the Chinese Club at her school, she said that attending the event has given her a better understanding of Chinese culture.

"I love the Chinese culture, and this was a good opportunity to learn more about China than what we learn in the Chinese Club back in school. I was happy to sample Chinese cuisine and learn the story behind dumplings and learn about the year of the rabbit," she said.

Mwende added that the expanding interaction between Chinese and Kenyan culture has created a better understanding of the Chinese people among locals and wished Kenya could take a page from China's book on celebrating local culture and traditions.

Zhao Xiyuan, minister counselor of the Chinese embassy in Kenya, noted that the purpose of the event is for Chinese people and Kenyan people to experience the traditional Chinese culture together and immerse everyone in the joy of the Chinese New Year.

He appreciated the fact that the Spring Festival has become more popular globally, including in Africa. Delighted that many students were able to attend the event, Zhao reiterated China's commitment to work with education institutions in Kenya to carry on exchange programs through scholarships.

Benson Mwaniki, a student of the Chinese language at the University of Nairobi Confucius Institute and a Kung Fu enthusiast said he is hoping to land a scholarship to China once he clears his undergraduate studies.

"It was an honor to perform our Kung Fu moves for the guests in honor of the Spring Festival. By learning the Chinese language and other cultural practices, I have come to appreciate their way of life and there is a lot we as Kenyans can borrow from them. Hopefully, my interest in China will open avenues for me in future since exchanges between Africa and China are on the rise," Mwaniki said.

Julius Ogeng'o, the deputy vice-chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Nairobi, thanked the Confucius Institute and the Chinese embassy for a colourful event and the continued collaboration, especially in education matters. He urged the students to take keen interest in learning the Chinese language and culture as a way of increasing their competitiveness in a tough job market.

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