ABUJA– An aroma of Chinese foods wafted through the air as people from all walks of life gathered in a festive spirit.
With the Year of the Rabbit right around the corner, Nigeria’s Chinese community held a carnival celebration here on Saturday.
The observance of the Chinese Lunar New Year is particularly relevant for local Chinese, who wish to maintain tradition and share their culture with their Nigerian neighbors and friends.
Under branded pop-up canopies at the China Cultural Center in Abuja, several tables were laden with Chinese cuisines, such as dumplings, noodles and rice cakes.
Revelers moved in droves to taste the savory foods on display.
“It is good to experience China in Nigeria and for us to get to know their culture, their food, and what they represent,” Maryjude Ayodele, a businesswoman, told Xinhua.
Displaying a white paper on which her name had been written with Chinese characters under one pop-up canopy, Ayodele praised the level of “Nigeria-China cultural exchange.”
The gathering was one of the events hosted by the Chinese embassy to celebrate the Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, which falls on Jan. 22 this year.
The celebration reached its climax with a dragon dance — a traditional Chinese dance performed to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck.
The long, sinuous dragon twisted and turned through a long red carpet, mesmerizing onlookers with its graceful movements.
The dragon, made of colorful silk and paper, was carried by a group of Nigerian dancers who moved to the beat of drums and cymbals.
The joyous celebration was spiced up by local troupes and school art groups who performed various Nigerian dances in addition to Chinese flute performances and dances.
Cui Jianchun, Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, emphasized that people-to-people exchanges between the two countries had bridged cultural differences and fostered a sense of community and harmony.
The celebration would help the Chinese community here mark the upcoming Spring Festival and offer an opportunity for Nigerian people to understand Chinese culture, Cui told Xinhua.
Tang Fanli, a mother of three kids, will spend her fourth Spring Festival in Nigeria.
She brought her kids to the activities because she wanted them to experience the festive atmosphere.
“I’m so happy. It makes me feel warm all over.”
According to Lydia Shehu Jafiya, Nigeria’s permanent secretary of information and culture, Nigeria-China cultural exchanges continue to play a vital role in promoting tourism between the two countries by offering a glimpse into Chinese culture, customs and traditions while encouraging more Nigerians to visit China, and vice versa.
“Nigeria and China share a close affinity in cuisine, hospitality and festivals. Hence, the rapid growth of our deep fraternal, cultural cord is incontestable,” Jafiya said.
“I am proud of the outstanding cultural ties existing between our dear nations, which have flourished nonstop for decades.” – Xinhua
NIGERIA: ABUJA, Jan. 15, 2023 (Xinhua) — This photo taken on Jan. 14, 2023 shows a dragon dance performance during an event held in celebration of the upcoming Year of the Rabbit in Abuja, Nigeria. (Xinhua/Guo Jun)