By Foday Moriba Conteh
In a momentous gathering, the Confucius Institute of Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone has on Saturday 3rd February, 2024 commemorated the Chinese Spring Festival Cultural Series 2024. The event was held at Taiji Garden, Fourah Bay College Campus in Freetown.
Before the captivating statements and performances of the day, participants immersed themselves in diverse aspects of Chinese culture such as Chinese calligraphy, paper cutting, tea art and Chinese Foods, drawing lots etc.
Addressing the audience with warmth and enthusiasm, the Director of the Confucius Institute at Fourah Bay College, Prof. Chen Xuebin, extended a heartfelt welcome to attendees at the 2024 Spring Festival celebration and usher in the upcoming Chinese New Year, set to begin on February 10th.
Prof. Chen Xuebin emphasized the significance of the Spring Festival in Chinese culture and its universal appeal as a time of joy and celebration. Rooted in age-old traditions, the Spring Festival holds deep cultural significance and serves as a time for families to come together and reflect on the past year while looking forward to new beginnings.
Highlighting the diverse array of cultural activities lined up for the occasion, Prof. Chen Xuebin invited attendees to immerse themselves in the richness of Chinese traditions. From paper cutting and calligraphy to tea making and culinary delights, participants had the opportunity to experience first-hand the beauty and charm of Chinese customs.
As the Year of the Dragon approaches, Prof. Chen Xuebin encouraged everyone to embrace the values of unity, respect, and prosperity. The Chinese New Year, he remarked, is not only a time for reflection but also a moment to express gratitude and extend heartfelt wishes to loved ones and supporters.
Expressing gratitude to the University of Sierra Leone for its steadfast support, Prof. Chen Xuebin also thanked the principals of teaching sites affiliated with the Confucius Institute for their dedication and hard work. He extended warm wishes for joy, prosperity, and success to all present, concluding his remarks with a traditional Chinese blessing: “May the coming year bring happiness and fulfillment to you all.”
The Vice Chancellor of Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone, Prof. Kelleh Mansaray, informed the gathering that while he was in China, he had the opportunity to attend a meeting at the Chinese International I.T.C. Agency, of which they were in need of a university in West Africa to established a Centre of Excellency for Information and Communications Technology.
He added that after giving the history of Fourah Bay College and also how the Confucius Institute of Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone is making success, among 32 universities from Africa represented at the meeting, Top of Formthe Chinese International I.T.C Agency selected Fourah Bay College for the establishment of the Centre of Excellency for Information and Communications Technology.
He revealed that however, in addition to the 3 Million Dollars Chinese Cultural Centre that will be constructed by the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone at the Fourah Bay College Campus, he also announced that there is also going to be a Centre of Excellency for Information and Communications Technology.
He concluded by expressing appreciation to the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone and the Confucius Institute for their role in strengthening the friendship between the People’s Republic of China and Sierra Leonean.
the Minister Counselor, Li Xiaoyong, of the Chinese Embassy in Sierra Leone began his address by expressing highlighting the significance of the Spring Festival, recently recognized as a UN holiday, marking the transition from the Year of the Rabbit to the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese Zodiac.
Reflecting on the past year, Minister Counselor Li Xiaoyong emphasized China’s achievements, including successful COVID-19 response efforts, economic recovery, and advancements in high-quality development. He underscored China’s commitment to global cooperation, citing diplomatic events such as the China-Central Asia Summit and the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
Central to Minister Counselor Li Xiaoyong’s address was the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind, outlining China’s vision of global governance characterized by inclusivity, mutual benefit, and cooperation, emphasizing the rejection of hegemony and power politics.
Acknowledging the longstanding friendship between China and Sierra Leone, Minister Counselor Li Xiaoyong commended the role of the Confucius Institute at USL in fostering cultural exchange and mutual understanding, showering praises the Institute’s efforts in deepening bilateral relations and enhancing cultural appreciation between the two nations.
The gala not only served as a celebration of the Spring Festival but also as an opportunity for cultural exchange and mutual appreciation. Minister Counselor Li Xiaoyong expressed confidence that the event would strengthen friendship and understanding between Chinese and Sierra Leonean cultures.
In closing, Minister Counselor Li Xiaoyong reaffirmed China’s commitment to strengthening people-to-people ties with Sierra Leone and promoting the Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership for the mutual benefit of both nations.
As the festivities concluded, Minister Counselor Li Xiaoyong addressed his compatriots in Chinese, thanking them for their contributions and encouraging continued efforts to enhance China-Sierra Leone friendship in the New Year.
Closing the ceremony was the showcasing of the various Chinese performances, including, Chinese Martial Arts: dancing dragons and phoenixes, Kung Fu Youth, Chinese song: guide to youthful development, flute performance, cross talk, poetry recitation and scene play, dance medley etc.