The beat of Nigerian drums intertwined with the delicate melodies of Chinese instruments, creating a symphony that resonated with the spirit of togetherness Tuesday when a cultural fiesta was held to celebrate the cultures of the two countries.
Dressed resplendently in captivating Chinese and Nigerian costumes, with richly used props, students from 12 public schools in the Nigerian capital of Abuja thronged the China Cultural Center, the venue of the 2023 annual China-Nigeria Cultural Fiesta, to compete among themselves for two main categories, namely, Chinese dance and Nigerian dance.
The event, organized by the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria and the Secondary Education Board of Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT), is a brainchild of the Chinese Corners, a club formed for extracurricular purposes by government-owned secondary schools in Abuja, to learn and share ideas about the Chinese culture.
“This is a truly exciting experience for me. I am glad to have not only witnessed this but have also competed and won,” said Gift Paul, a student of the Government Day Secondary School in Dutse, a suburb of Abuja. She was a member of the troupe that won the first prize for her school at last year’s edition of the competition.
This year, the school was again the biggest winner of the competition, clinching the top prize in both the Chinese and Nigerian dances. “I get joy anytime I am dancing. It gives me more energy to put in more effort. It took us one month to prepare for the competition. We did a different dance than the others, and for me, I think our own was the best,” Paul said.
Presenting a great spectacle for the audience who witnessed the growing people-to-people interaction between China and Nigeria, the young performers seamlessly transitioned between the fluid motions of Chinese fan dances and the spirited, energetic rhythms of Nigerian traditional dance forms. The applause that followed each act was not just for the captivating display but for the bridge that was built between the two nations through the universal language of art and culture.
In an earlier interview with Xinhua, Yakubu Ibrahim, a member of the China-Nigeria Alumni, said one of the main challenges Chinese Corners faced was the lack of Chinese language teachers. Many participants and their teachers know little or nothing about the Chinese language, and they are at the event purely out of their love for Chinese culture.
“They just downloaded videos of Chinese songs and dances, and they watched videos and practiced over and over again,” Ibrahim said.
Though not having a full grasp of the lyrics of the Chinese song she and her team performed, Martha Fortune, whose school won the top prize, said: “It felt like an interesting story.”
While expressing deep interest in learning the Chinese language either at school or later in life, Fortune said she enjoyed watching Chinese movies and choreographed dances.
Bright Abovi, a teacher from the Government Day Secondary School in Dutse, is proud to lead his students to winning the top prize at the competition.
“Anytime we do this program, I always see myself like a Chinese man. In my color, I am a Nigerian man, but in my mind, I think like the Chinese people,” Abovi told Xinhua in an interview.
According to Li Xuda, the cultural counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria, the cultural exchange between the two countries has been greatly promoted, and the China-Nigeria Cultural Fiesta has so far become a “well-known cultural brand.”
“Both China and Nigeria are cultural giants with a long history. Culture plays an important role in the historical process of our national independence and revitalization,” he added.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.