By Ochiaka Ugwu
In observance of Chinese New year in Nigeria, the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Nigeria in collaboration with the Ministry of Information and Culture of the Federal Republic of Nigeria put together a cultural performance done by Zhejiang Wu Opera Troupe of China which was organized by Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China, Embassies of the People’s Republic of China in Nigeria, Djibouti and Tanzania.
Mr. Lai Mohammed, Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture Mr. Li Xuda, Cultural Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria
Speaking during the event in Nigeria’s capital city Abuja, the Minister of Information and Culture of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mr. Lai Mohammed ably represented by the Director of Legal Service of the Ministry, Mr. Jacob K. Ehicheoya said that he was highly delighted to be here on the auspicious of occasion of the cultural performance of the Zhejiang Wu Opera Troupe from China.
He said the performance was another testament to the success of the cultural cooperation between China and Nigeria.
He informed that it is instructive to note that while the bilateral relations between Nigeria and China dates back to over five decades, the cultural relations between the two countries were concretized by the signing of the Agreement on Cultural and Educational Cooperation in March, 1990.
Lai said the three decades of Cultural Co-operation has since witnessed several cultural activities and exchanges in the Arts, Music, Dance, Exhibition, Cultural Administration, Training and Capacity building of Cultural officers and, recently, the development of Cultural Industries Centres in Nigeria, among others.
Continuing, the Honourable Minister pointed out that China and Nigeria have in the course of the Cultural Exchange collaborated in a number of high-profile events, including the 40‘“ and 45th Anniversaries of our diplomatic relations in Lagos and Abuja respectively.
He said Chinese Troupe performed during the celebration of Nigeria‘s 50th Independence Anniversary in 2010 and the country’s Centenary Celebration In 2014, and Nigeria successfully celebrated her cultural week in China in 2012 and 2013, In furtherance of our friendship, understanding and bilateral cooperation.
“Also worthy of note is the fact that Chinese Films have been a regular feature, especially in our commercial cinema houses, and are watched and enjoyed by the various strata of Nigerian society.
“I remember with nostalgia, the 1990s when the Chinese Film Week was an annual programme at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos. The halls were usually packed full as every young man aspired to be the “Bruce Lee of Nigeria”.
The Minister of Information and Culture commended the Cultural Office of the Embassy of China for initiating and implementing Cultural Exchange programmes with positive and far-reaching impact on the stakeholders of the Sector in Nigeria saying that it is his hope that the cooperation continues to grow for the benefit of our peoples.
He assured the Ambassador of China to Nigeria that the Ministry would continue to explore ways and means of expanding our vibrant bilateral Cooperation within the framework of the recently-signed Protocol on implementation of cultural cooperation and exchanges between our countries.
Speaking earlier, the Cultural Counselor of the Chinese Embassy, Mr. Li Xuda in his opening remarks extended his warm regards to all attendees and said there is an old saying in China which is “How happy we are To have friends from afar!
He informed of a 34-member Zhejiang Wu Opera Troupe from China to visit and perform in Nigeria. Going back memory lane, Li said the Troupe was established in 1956 and since then generation after generation, those artists in the Troupe have visited over 40 different countries including the United States, France, Austria, Germany, Brazil, Cuba, South Africa, etc.
He said their footprints covered five continents and make a wide range of friends all over the world.
His words, “I can tell you that five years ago, when I was working in Trinidad and Tobago as cultural attaché, the Troupe visited the twin-island Caribbean country and their amazing performance was well received.
“We can say the Troupe has already become one of the most popular performing arts Troupes in China, its fame spreads far and wide around the globe.
“This time, as the Chinese New Year is approaching, let’s take this opportunity to say Happy Chinese New Year to you! With the aim to promote cultural exchange and strengthen the traditional friendship between China and Nigeria, the Troupe visits Nigeria.
“New Year means new hope, 2020 is a very important year for all of us. For China, in this year we will continue to work hard and finish the building a moderately prosperous society in all respects; for Nigeria, 2020 marks the 60th Anniversary of the founding the Federal Republic, and both countries will also celebrate the 49th Anniversary of bilateral ties between each other.
“Culture is a country and nation’s soul. Our country will thrive only if our culture thrives, and our nation will be strong only if our culture is strong. From that we can see the important role culture is playing in every country. “Nowadays we always say “The relationship between two countries is based on the affection between two countries’ civilians”, cultural exchange really can help us reach that goal! and I think the essence of cultural exchange is people to people exchange, which serves as a bridge, promotes the mutual understanding and mutual learning between Countries.
“Let’s work together, learn from each other and support each other to build a great global community full of peace and love!” he concluded.
The audience was treated with a lot of cultural music and performance which ranges from 9-Pieced Segmented Dragon with performances accompanied with unique local melodies of the Wu Opera. The Goddess of Heaven Scatters Flowers, this on its own showcases beautiful and skilled dance and operatic movement.
Others include Wu Opera Lu Bu Tries the Horse, Wu Opera Divergent Path, Wu Opera Excerpt on Broken Bridge, Monkey King, Hui Hu Solo Hui Tune, Stage Skill Face Changing and Chinese Opera Style Martial Arts.