Chinese New Year 2017, year of the Rooster! Celebrated with fanfare in Nigeria

Chao Xiaoliang, Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Lagos office and Mr Jackson Sun Guoping, director, Overseas Chinese Service Centre in Nigeria, flanked by the children of Ijamido Orphanage Home.

The Chinese community in Nigeria recently celebrated the New Year 2017, year of the Rooster!, in Lagos Nigeria. The event which was celebrated at the big banquet hall of the China Town Ojota, Lagos, was marked as a festival of love, where gifts were shared with everyone around. This year’s celebration ushered in Chinese lunar year.

Different people who came together in the celebration also charged themseves with inspirational words such as,吉星高照; Jíxīng gāozhào, meaning, fortune will smile on you (‘lucky star high shines’). 新年好, meaning Happy New Year ((Xīnnián hǎo), 事业有成, (Shìyè yǒuchéng) meaning, success in your career, were displayed at many placss on the wall at the venue of the event.

There was also more to eat as aroma of hot and lovely traditional Indian cuisine rented the air. Love was also in the air as it was the season of reaching out to all irrespective of people’s race or tribe.

The man at the centre of the celebration galore at the China Town, Mr Jackson Sun Gouping, who is the head of Chinese Centre in Lagos, hosted all and sundry to a befitting reception at the eve of 2017 Chinese lunar year.

The event which was also a show of camaraderie, featured side attractions such as dance, miming, karaoke, speeches, cooking demonstration, prayers, likewise wining and dining.

Welcoming guests, both Chinese and Nigerian nationals and people from other countries to the celebration, Mr Jackson Sun Gouping, the head of Chinese Overseas Service Centre in Nigeria and founder of the China town in Lagos, who has spent almost 40 years in Nigeria, spoke about the importance of New year in Chinese history.

“Chinese never toyed 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 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 cherish and love 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 paddle the boat of Nigeria’s economy. From home, our Minister of Chinese Overseas Service Centre, Qiu Yuanping, also sent her greetings to us.”

In his speech, the Chinese Consul General in Lagos office, Mr. Chao Xiaoliang, said that the coming together called for 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.”

President Muhammadu Buhari felicitated with Chinese community in Nigeria and across the world on the celebration of the country’s Lunar New Year, also known as Spring Festival, which began on January 28.

Women displaying Chinese local cuisine during the Chinese 2017 Lunar New Year festival organised by the Chinese Community in Nigeria.

The presidential spokesperson, Mr Femi Adesina, said the President had sent his good will message to the Chinese Community 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.

“We know that it is the most important traditional festival for the Chinese. It is an occasion for family reunion.

“Families will be coming together, often travelling many miles to revive great family values, reflect on the blessings of the past year and look forward with hope to the New Year,” the President said.

Mrs Dorothy Johnson, head of Human Resources at Huawei, Nigeria and daughter of Nigerian former Ambassador to Nigeria, late Ambassador Victor Chibundu, also at the New Year celebration: “In China, Chinese New Year is characterised by one of 12 animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac sign. 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 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 is why we are gathering together at the popular China town here in Lagos.”

Qiu Yuanping, the Minister for Overseas Chinese Affairs Office had her goodwill speech televised for the audience, as she wished them good health (身体健康 (shen tǐ jiàn kang).

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 the China town were given the opportunity of savouring the moments and some other schools too.

More guests at the Chinese 2017 Lunar New Year festival.

Red envelopes (hóng bāo) also known as gift bags were giving to the needy in accordance with Chinese tradition. This was after the raffle draw has taken place.

A staff of the Oversee Service Chinese Centre 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. There were live music, miming, raffle draw and fashion parade.

The shouts of新年進步 (xin nián jìn bù) “May the New Year brings much better things” rented the air.

At the New Year celebration, Chinese people showed their rich cultural life via cuisine such as dumpling, yue; shīzi tóu or “lion’s head, songshu guiyu or mandarin fish, also, dance, music and displaying of art works.

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 processes.

Intermittently, the occasion far away in China , were 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 Centre 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.

Owoola is a freelance writer.