Students from the University of Liberia (UL) were a sight to see earlier this week as they shared the Monrovia City Hall stage with the Chinese Artistic Troup from Zhejiang International Studies University, China, on Tuesday, February 23.
Organized by the Confucius Institute (CI), which teaches Chinese language and culture at the UL, the Liberian students performed special dances, recited poems and sang songs in Chinese, to the amazement of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Vice President Joseph Boakai and others in attendance.
Chinese characters appear impossible to read, but as the students recited poems and sang songs depicting Chinese culture, many spectators in the theater of the Monrovia City Hall burst into excitement and awarded the performers with thunderous applauses.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in her remarks lauded the Confucius Institute for opening the minds of young Liberians to understanding and speaking the Chinese language.
Expressing delight, the President said she was pleased seeing Liberians participating in Chinese cultural activities and speaking the language fluently.
“We in Liberia are grateful to the Chinese and to all our friends who are making efforts in various ways for Liberians to benefit from your cultural activities, and we whole heartedly welcome the Chinese cultural team,” the President said.
According to the President, the presence of the Chinese cultural troupe in Liberia should motivate Liberians to consider the significance of their own culture.
She then said with Liberians’ participation, the relationship between China and Liberia will be consolidated as they (Liberians) are beginning to speak the language and learn Chinese culture.
In his remarks, Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yue said the presence of the Chinese Artistic Troupe in Liberia does not only build a bridge of cultural exchange, but also consolidates the foundation of China-Liberia relations.
Ambassador Zhang reiterated that the Chinese believe that the key to a sound relation between states lies in the affinity between the peoples, which accordingly stems from mutual understanding.
He said “People-to-people and cultural exchanges play a fundamental and leading role in bilateral relations,” also noting that the cultural resonance is the strongest tie in the communication between peoples.
The Confucius Institute, which organized the cultural extravaganza, is engaged in teaching Liberians the Chinese language and culture at certificate level at the University of Liberia.
The institute, after certain level of studies and achievement in understanding and speaking the language, allows students to visit China to interact with their Chinese counterparts in an exchange program.
The activities are in consonance with China-Africa Policy, which speaks of cultural exchanges and mutual economic benefits for both sides of the relationship.
From this context, the Chinese Ambassador said “Culture exchanges, also with the business ties, are two closely-related and mutually reinforcing wheels that move China-Liberia cooperation forward.”
He recounted that from the cultural exchange they have done a lot to provide local people the opportunities to study in China through the scholarships and training programs.
The cultural troupe from China is in Africa for 14 days in three countries including Liberia, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.
The Chinese Artistic Troupe comprises students of the Zhejiang International Studies University, China. They performed special cultural activities that involved playing traditional harp, dancing and martial arts (Kung Fu).
The Kung Fu witnessed in movies came alive in the presence of Liberians and other foreign nationals that were at the occasion. Again, performances by the Chinese raised thunderous applauses and increased snap shootings on smart phones and other electronic devices.