By Foday Moriba Conteh
In commemoration of International Tea Day which is observed annually on May 21st, as it was announced on November 27, 2019 during the 74th United Nations General Assembly to celebrate the economic, social, and cultural value of tea, Confucius Institute at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone in partnership with Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Sierra Leone has on Monday 22nd May, 2023 commemorated 2023 International Tea Day Cultural Experience Activity.
The event which was graced by the Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Wang Qing, the Chinese Director of Confucius Institute, Fourah Bay College, Prof. Jing Man, Stakeholders, pupils etc. was held at the American Montessori Leadership Academy at Hannah Benka Coker Street on Brookfields in Freetown.
In her welcome address, the Founder and Director of the American Montessori Leadership Academy, Joyce Osman expressed appreciation to the Confucius Institute and the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Sierra Leone for commemorating the 2023 International Tea Day at their site.
She said that pupils of her school are really benefiting from the site, adding that she is very excited to commemorate International Tea Day which she described as very important. She stated that during her stay in Hong Kong she had always like the Tea.
The Publicity Secretary of the Sierra Leone China Friendship Association, who also doubles as the Program Coordinator of Small Small Chinese, Ibrahim Bangura, said that the origin of tea can be traced back to over 3,000 years ago in the southwestern region of China, where it was believed to be the earliest form of tea infusion and as time passed, Chinese people gradually discovered the medicinal and beverage values of tea.
He said that Tea has become a symbol of Chinese Identity and pride, stating that it is also a social beverage around the world. He maintained that the commemoration of the International Tea Day is very important towards showcasing the significance of Tea.
Making a statement, the Local Director at the Confucius Institute ,Fourah Bay College University of Sierra Leone, Rev. Oliver Harding said that International Tea Day was announced in 2019 at the 74th United Nations General Assembly, and is celebrated on May 21 each year to celebrate the economic, social, and cultural value of tea, adding that it is the first successful international agricultural festival promoted by tea producing communities mainly in China.
He said that Tea is one of the three major beverages in the world and that tea has become a pillar industry of agriculture and an important source of farmers’ income in many countries, especially in developing countries.
Rev. Oliver Harding said that Sierra Leone also has its own local tea like lemon grass Tea, Moringa Tea etc. which he said they will incorporate in the next celebration of International Tea Day.
Delivering the keynote address, the Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Wang Qing, said that in 2019, the 74th session of the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution establishing May 21 as the International Tea Day as a demonstration of the reality that tea is very popular around the world.
He stated that people love tea because it’s one of the healthiest drinks and that it has no calories, no sodium, no sugar and no fat. This makes it a great drink for those watching their weight or trying to lose weight.
The Ambassador maintained that Tea is a key driver for social and economic development and it is one of the world’s most important cash crops, continuing that the booming of tea and its related drinking products and industries create many jobs and much economic value.
“So today we celebrate the International Tea Day, not just for tea itself, but also for the culture, the lifestyle behind it. In March this year, President Xi Jinping proposed the Global Civilization Initiative (GCI), advocating the respect for the diversity of civilizations and the common values of humanity, remembering the importance of inheritance and innovation of civilizations, and boosting people-to-people exchanges and international cooperation. I think today’s event is also a good practice of GCI,” he revealed.
Wang Qing pointed out that China is keen to work together with the international community to open up a new prospect of enhanced exchanges and understanding among different peoples, better interactions and integration of diversified cultures.
“With our joint efforts, we can make the garden of world civilizations more colorful and vibrant,” he said.
He concluded by expressing his heartfelt thanks to the Government of Sierra Leone for its active support in promoting cultural exchanges between China and Sierra Leone. He also thanked all the staff of the Confucius Institute at the University of Sierra Leone for their continued efforts and important contributions to helping our Sierra Leonean learn Chinese culture.
Closing the ceremony was the sampling of various variants of Chinese Tea which includes White Tea, Jasmine Tea, Oolong Tea, Green Tea, etc. by the Chinese Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Wang Qing, the Director of Confucius Institute Fourah Bay College Prof. Jing Man, Stakeholders and pupils present.