Feature: Upcoming Chinese New Year celebrated with fanfare in Nigerian capital

Updated: February 5, 2024 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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by Olatunji Saliu

ABUJA, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- A group of dragon dancers, moving in sync with the pulsating rhythm of drums, weaved their way through an excited, mammoth crowd that gathered in the Nigerian capital of Abuja on Saturday to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year.

With the Year of the Dragon just around the corner, the Chinese community in Nigeria, who wish to maintain tradition and share their culture with their Nigerian neighbors and friends, held a carnival celebration here.

The festive atmosphere was "electrifying," noted Adeshina Adegboye, a Nigerian mechanical engineer, and a first-time attendee of the annual temple fair, a traditional cultural event featuring all kinds of Chinese folk art.

"As you can see, this celebration clearly shows the shared joy of the Chinese and their Nigerian friends," Adegboye said.

It was the first of several events outlined for the celebration of what is also known as the Spring Festival, which falls on Feb. 10 this year.

The event, organized by the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria and the China Cultural Center in Abuja, witnessed a large turnout of merrymakers, including high school students.

The revelers, who gathered at the China Cultural Center, located in the central business area of Abuja, were enthralled by a colorful exhibition of Chinese culture as well as various Chinese and Nigerian art performances.

Under branded pop-up canopies, several tables were laden with Chinese cuisines, such as dumplings, noodles, and rice cakes. Revelers moved in droves to sample the tasty food on display.

The crowd, a mix of Chinese, Nigerian, and other nationalities, embraced the cultural exchange, creating a "vibrant portrait of unity."

Martins Ifeanyi, a Nigerian businessman, told Xinhua that the celebration was about welcoming a new year and connecting communities, adding that the event was a clear celebration of shared experiences.

"Nigerians came out en masse to grace this particular occasion. That will show you that the Chinese and the Nigerians have gone a long way in cooperation toward economic and political development. And I believe that the Year of the Dragon will cement and solidify the relationship between Nigeria and China," said Ifeanyi.

The showstopper was the 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 majestic performance symbolized not only tradition, but also unity, strength and the promise of good times in the coming year.

"This celebration is more than just traditions," enthused Amina Yusuf, a Nigerian woman who attended the event with her two daughters. "This looks more like a mixtape of cultures coming together. It is interesting to know that the Chinese believe that the Year of the Dragon will bring positive vibes. And we are thrilled to share that with them."

Noting that the Year of the Dragon symbolizes three keywords, including "auspiciousness, wisdom, and strength," Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria Cui Jianchun emphasized that greater cooperation between China and Nigeria has fostered a sense of community and harmony.

Cui told Xinhua that this year is expected to be "a special one" for the two nations, saying, "If we really try to make a difference, this is a very important year not only for the new (Nigerian) government but also for the long-term development of the two nations."

Editor: Tian Shenyoujia