Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Lagos, Chao Xiaoliang (in red) and Mr. Jackson Sun Guoping; Director, Overseas Chinese Service Center in Nigeria, flanked by Children of Ijamido Orphanage Home at the festival
It was celebration galore at the China Town when the Overseas Chinese Center in Lagos, headed by Mr. Jackson Sun Gouping, hosted all and sundry to a befitting reception heralding the eve of 2017 Chinese Lunar Year.
The event that was full of camaraderie had many shows such as dances, miming, karaoke, speeches, cooking demonstration, prayers, wining and dining.
Welcoming the guests who comprised Chinese nationals, Nigerians and people from other countries, Mr. Jackson Sun Gouping, the Head of Chinese Overseas Service Center in Nigeria, who doubles as the founder of the China town in Lagos, revealed the importance of New Year in Chinese history.
“Chinese never toy with the full celebration of the New Year. Majority of our nationals have gone home to China, and many in the cities in China will definitely go to their rural and traditional communities to celebrate the season. But those who are here today are gathered here to celebrate with our families, friends, wives of the Chinese: I mean women who are married to the Chinese nationals and same, for men from China who are married to Nigerians. It is time to celebrate. We cherish Nigeria as well as we cherishe and loved China, it is time to celebrate together.”
“We are delighted that President Mohammadu Buhari sent us his goodwill message. We too wish him good tidings as he paddled the boat of Nigeria economy. From home, our Minister of Chinese Overseas Service Center, Qiu Yuanping also sent her greetings to us,” Gouping who has spent almost 40 years in Nigeria said with enthusiasm.
In his speech, the Chinese Consul General in Lagos, Mr. Chao Xiaoliang said that coming together calls for deeper celebration.
“Nigeria and China have come a long way. We share a lot of similarities. First, we have same National Day, which is October 1. Also China is the most populous country in Asia and the world, and Nigeria is the most populous black nation in Africa, and the world.
“China is the largest economy in Asia while Nigeria is a leading economy in Africa. We share a lot of similarities in culture and strategic knowledge about the international situation and economy. In the trade area, the trade volume between China and Nigeria has grown fast in the past few years. I wish everyone a happy New Year,” Chao who went round to greet the guests throughout the ceremony said.
President Buhari, according to his media aide, Femi Adesina, has sent a goodwill message to the Chinese communities in Nigeria before travelling out.
“On behalf of the Government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I want to express my warmest greetings to you on celebrating the Spring Festival, also known as Chinese Lunar New Year.
“This 2017 year’s event is the year of the Rooster,” according to Mrs. Dorothy Johnson, Head of Human Resources at Huawei, Nigeria and co-incidentally the daughter of Nigeria’s former Ambassador to China, late Ambassador Victor Chibundu.
“In China, Chinese New Year is characterised by one of 12 animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac format. And this year is that of the Rooster.
“It has started now and will last until Feb 15, 2017. It is time for enjoyment, celebrations and giving out to the humanity. At home in China, you can hardly see people trading in China now, absolutely nobody. Everybody will be in a celebration mood. Because the festivities usually start the day before the New Year and continue until the Lantern Festival, the 15th day of the new year, this why we are gathering together at the popular China town here in Lagos” Dorothy who studied in China explained.
A philanthropist and Director with WEMPCO Plc, Mr. Phillip Tung, who was one of the VIPs at the occasion, was happy that orphans were in attendance as well as some of the needy.
“The purpose of gathering here is to felicitate with each other and reach out to those that cannot afford such” Phillip, a philanthropist reasoned.
Conspicuously present were the children of Ijamido Orphanage Home, Sango Ota. Coincidentally, pupils of The Pinefield Montessori School, Lekki, Lagos, who were on excursion to China town, were also given the opportunity of savouring the moments and some other schools too.
Red envelopes (hóng bāo) also known as gift bags, were given to the needy in accordance with Chinese tradition. This was after the raffle draw.
A staff of the Oversee Service Chinese Center in Lagos, Mrs. Precious Nzewunun, who had once worked and lived in China, said that the red in China tradition is to ward off evil and bring in good luck..
The shouts of xin nián jìn bù, “may the New Year bring much better things” rented the air.
As the hosts were displaying how to prepare their native foods, guests were also taught how to prepare the cuisine. Ingredients were brought out and Nigerians were carried along in learning and cooking them.
Intermittently, the occasion far away in China , was being beamed live to those in Nigeria in order to be part of the fun back home.
Many notable guests were drawn from all walks of life.
In the pipeline by the Overseas Chinese Center in Lagos is the establishment of a Chinese school where both Nigerians and Chinese nationals can study together in order to improve China-Nigeria relationships at all levels.