By IKENNA EMEWU
Celebration of culture was the menu in Lagos at the Oriental Hotel, Lekki Saturday as the first Chinese Wushu Performance Championship held.
The event that attracted a large audience, including diplomats, government policymakers, the business community, the Chinese community in Lagos, the media and wushu lovers was worth the outing.
Grand Ball Room of the 5-Star hotel was packed full with people who feasted on cultures of the people of China and Nigeria.
It was also a day of celebration and recognition of the benefits of wushu or kung fu, a martial art that has brought China reputation and acclaim globally.
From the days of the legendary Chinese films featuring Bruce Lee, the lure of China’s wushu has not waned among people of other worlds.
That day, the organisers of the event, the Nigeria-China Business Council led by Chief Matthew Uwaekwe and the Nigeria Huaxing Culture Troupe, a group of fame under the supervision of Chinese businessman in Nigeria, Chief Eric Ni made wushu practitioners proud and encouraged them to do much more for the cementing of the cultures of the two worlds and through that achieve better relationship and a more peaceful world.
Among the participant wushu artists at the junior, medium and senior categories, every winner got handsome reward of between N350,000 and N750,000 with the ultimate winner hauling N1 million.
The event also extended charity stipends of N250,000 to six schools while a special school for visually impaired students in Yaba, Lagos had a support of N750,000 from the Troupe.
Beyond that however, the event witnessed a harvest of cultural dances and other displays by Nigerian and Chinese young women and men, members of the troupe who have through culture exchange mastered the Chinese culture and language.
The event graced by the Director General of the National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) Otunba Segun Runsewe had the endorsement of the government of Nigeria for more cooperation and integration.
Also in attendance was the Director of Arts at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture who represented the minister.
Many other friends and actors in the Nigeria-China diplomatic and friendship community were also in attendance including Dr. Matthew Uwaekwe, the chief executive of the Nigeria-China Business Council, the former DG of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) Prof. Bola Akinterinwa who eulogised the event as befitting and in consonance with the objectives of the United Nations for revival of global systems and the economy post Covid-19. He noted that groups and integration as the Wushu Championship are veritable tools for global friendship, unity and renewal after the pandemic.
The gathering also had diplomatic endorsement as the Chinese Consul General, Mr. Chu Maoming sent a representative who delivered his speech and urged the group to do more for the good relationship of China and Nigeria that has lasted 51 fruitful years.
Chu whose office, the Chinese Consulate, is also one of the sponsors of the event challenged Nigeria and China to make their friendship stronger and believes that culture exchange would create better understanding of each other for greater benefits of the two countries. He noted that the past 51 years of the relationship of the two have been one of the most successful in Africa with brighter prospects of better days.
In his keynote address, Otunba Runsewe who is also the president of the World Crafts Council, African region and chairman of the Africa-China Culture and Arts Exchange Society, praised the event as commendable.
He said “the relationship between the NCAC and the Chinese community is simply a reflection of the overall bilateral relations Nigeria and China have in all facets of economy and life, due to both countries; shared similarities with regards to their strategic positions in their respective continents; their political and economic influence; as well as population strength. These factors foster mutually beneficial opportunities for sharing, understanding and exchanging cultural affinities among among the two countries.”
Runsewe said the event of Saturday “was a continuation of the tradition to renew and rejuvenate the bonds of this strategic partnership which has continued to wax stronger over the past half a century.”
In his recognition of the support and cooperation of the man of culture, tourism and the art, Runsewe, Chief Uwaekwe, one of the patrons of the group and a close ally of Chief Ni, said the NCAC DG has been a pillar in the quest to forge good and sustainable friendship between Nigeria and China using the instrumentality of culture.
The group later presented an award of recognition to Runsewe which was handed to him by Ni after an eloquent speech by Uwaekwe on the qualities of Runsewe.
Uwaekwe who has been in the fore of projecting and promoting cordial friendship between Nigeria and China through business and investment in over 20 years also called on Nigerians and the Chinese community as well as the governments to extend the relationship to the economy as a way to assist Nigeria get a lift from its present status.
He remarked that good ideas of his group have nurtured a virile cooperation between Nigeria and China and further called for better investment relations from China to Nigeria while also tasking the governments of Nigeria to work more on better business incentives to attract Chinese investors. Uwaekwe reasoned that business and culture, which is of course business also, go hand in hand and work best when the countries achieve better livelihood for the people.
The information minister was also presented an award for support, just as Uwaekwe and Ni received awards also for championing the flourishing friendship through culture.