The J. F. Ade. Ajayi Auditorium was awash with thrilling performances in celebration of the Chinese 2023 Spring Festival, a festival which marks the Chinese New Year. The Year 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit.
The Festival, held on Thursday, February 9, 2023, was organised by Confucius Institute, University of Lagos. It featured beautiful dance performances as well as musical and poem renditions from the HSK students of the Confucius Institute, students of Grace High School, Grace Children School, University of Lagos Women Society (ULWS) and University of Lagos Staff School.
At the opening ceremony of the Festival, the Director of the Institute, Professor Chimdi Maduagwu, welcomed all to the special event. He disclosed that this year’s festival was special for several reasons. First, it was the first full celebration post COVID-19 pandemic; second, the Institute has received, in the past months, four (4) native Chinese teachers back into the institute, and more are expected to join in the coming months, thus increasing capacity building. Third, the festival was the first under the new Management of the University.
He disclosed that although it was a belated new year celebration, it promised to be an enlightening, educative and entertaining festival.
The Chinese Director of the Institute, Prof. Zhao Hongling, in his address, mentioned that Spring festival can be likened to Christmas season, a season for happy reunions. He appreciated all those who support the Institute steadily and welcomed all to the event.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, represented by Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Development Services, Prof. Ayodele Atsenuwa, expressed joy at the opportunity to celebrate with “our Chinese friends because Nigeria has a close relationship with China. When our friends celebrate, we celebrate.” She noted that the Confucius Institute at the University of Lagos is one of the University’s flagship centres which has helped UNILAG deepen international ties between Nigeria and China and enhance national capacity in the area of promoting Chinese language and culture, particularly as the University has a B.A. degree programme in Chinese Language.
Representative of the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in Lagos, Mr. Wang Chunzen, thanked the University for its support of the Confucius institute. He noted that the Consulate is pleased to forge positive relationships with UNILAG and other universities in Nigeria.
Mr. Liang Benbin, another representative of the Consulate-General of PRC in Lagos, gave a historical overview of the Spring Festival. He said that Chinese people usually travel back to China to celebrate the Festival. He talked about the significance of the decorations – red lanterns and food, such as fish signify abundance and prosperity, while the Rabbit is considered to be smart, happy and quick-minded. He talked about the fun activities like the lion and dragon dances. He noted that Chinese language is heavily associated with Chinese customs, history, philosophy and costumes.
Former Director-General of Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Prof. Bola Akinterinwa, who was also present at the event, pointed out that Nigeria and China are divinely ordained to rule the world. This, according to him, is by virtue of both being the most populous countries in the world: Asia and Africa respectively.
The Festival was also graced by representatives of the PRC in Lagos, Chinese Business and Cultural Community, Officers of the Nigeria Immigration Service, members of the Confucius institute, and general University community.