The Chief Executive of the Nigeria China Business Council (NCBC), Dr. Matthew Uwaekwe has challenged students of theatre in Nigerian universities to start seeing theatre, arts and culture as a major economic impetus.
He made the challenge in his address at the opening ceremony of the Nigerian Universities Theatre Arts and Festival (NUTAF 2021 being hosted by the Gregory University, Uturu, Abia State on Monday.
Uwaekwe, an investor and businessman told the students that “It is imperative to note that cultural production is clearly an important area for investment and a means of boosting cultural identity; more strategically, it aids the diversification of national and global economies. It is also noted that the cultural industry sector now makes significant contributions to GDP, as it promotes exports and generates employment. The many advantages derivable from cultural awareness, tapping and development cannot be over emphasized, hence, the need to continue to explore avenues to promote healthy Nigeria and China Cultural integration and its prospects.
This is what the Nigeria – China Business Council in collaboration with China Industrial and Commercial Enterprises Association, Huaxing Arts Troupe Nigeria and the Chinese Business Community in Nigeria seeks to propagate across Nigerian educational institutions.
Even though China and Nigeria have vastly different historical experiences and cultural traditions, the Governments of China and Nigeria have been remarkably successful in their efforts to promote Chinese culture in Nigeria, as evidenced in the enabling atmosphere created for Chinese enterprises in Nigeria. For example, student exchanges and the proliferation of Chinese media in Nigeria have been the primary mechanisms underpinning the increasing cultural synergy between the two countries.”
In 2008, Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awaa, Nigeria, established a Confucius Institute to teach the Chinese language to Nigerian students. Following successful business linkages between China and Nigeria, the Chinese Embassy in Abuja on June 29, 2008, announced the establishment of Chinese Cultural Research Centre of Nigeria, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. The embassy also pledged to create an Igbo language institute in China to encourage Chinese university graduates to work for Chinese companies in Nigeria.
In 2009, University of Lagos established another Confucius Institute. Following the demand and the deepening cooperation between Nigeria and China, the Chinese embassy in 2016 opened a Chinese learning Centre in Abuja as a sister institute of Nnamdi Azikiwe University with affiliation to Xiamen University in China.
The primary objective of the Confucius Institute in Nigeria is to facilitate Chinese language promotion and Chinese cultural transmission in Nigeria and in turn produce qualified Chinese language teachers and excellent Chinese language students. Chinese presence in Nigeria through the Confucius Institute is reducing unemployment in Nigeria whereby those who graduated from the Confucius Institute are gaining employment in various Chinese firms as translators and acting as the bridge between Chinese firms and local industries.
As a matter of fact, it may interest you to know that, in September 2015, the Nigeria-China Business Council in collaboration with High Hope International Group Skyrun Corporation sponsored twenty-five Nigerian graduates on a one month intensive training on assembling, rRepairs and sales of pre-paid electricity meters at the XJ Group China, in Jiangsu Province. On their return to Nigeria all the 25 trainees were employed by Skyrun Company in Nigeria.
All these achievement were made possible as a result of the introduction of Forum on China and Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) initiative of the Chinese government for accelerating economic development in Africa. With this initiative, it is obvious that culture as a fundamental component of sustainable development, plays important role in attracting and coordinating people from different backgrounds for mutual economic benefits.
The Nigeria – China Business Council, Nigeria – China Friendship Association, China Industrial and Commercial Enterprises Association, Huaxing Arts Troupe Nigeria and Chinese Business Community in Nigeria, are collaborating to provide opportunities for more Nigerians to take advantage of the Chinese government initiatives to actualize their dreams through culture and arts by showcasing their talents for national development.
It is on this note that the Minister of Information and Culture recognized and commended the seamless contribution of the Chinese Business Community, China Industrial and Commercial Enterprises Association and Huaxing Arts Troupe for their worthy corporate social responsibility initiatives aimed at giving back to the society in forms of grants, scholarships, donations and other contributions during the Covid-19 Pandemic.”
He also vowed that the cooperation between the people of Nigeria and China at various levels, including culture and arts will continue to grow stronger with time. He challenged the theatre students in their event to target at using their learning, talents and knowledge to lift the image and economy of the country and create positive renown for Nigeria and the world.