The Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka has once again taken the lead in opening a Chinese Cultural Research Centre, first of its kind in Africa.
The Commissioning of the Chinese Cultural Research Centre saw the Vice-Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Prof. Joseph E. Ahaneku, FAS, the Chinese Cultural Attaché Yan Xiang Dong, University Management team, Principal Officers of the University, Traditional rulers, as the tape was cut to commission the Research Centre. After the commissioning the golden key to the Centre was handed over to the Cultural Attaché as a sign of friendship that the Centre was under his watch.
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Joseph E. Ahaneku. FAS, who was obviously happy at the event, being a former Director of the Confucius Institute, nurtured by him all through, said it was a historic occasion and a great honour, coming with great responsibilities for Nnamdi Azikiwe University to be selected from among the lot to host the Chinese Cultural Research Centre of Nigeria.
He explained that the Memorandum of understanding signed by UNIZIK and Xiamen University aims at teaching of Chinese language and Culture to University students and the general public; promoting research on China and scholarly exchange between Nigeria and China; conducting Chinese Language Proficiency tests (HSK), subsisting staff exchange between UNIZIK and Xiamen University. Going further, he said that arrangements are underway to deploy staff of the University to teach Igbo Language and culture in Xiamen University, so as to make the relationship truly reciprocal. He described the relationship as the marriage of cultures, stating that the Cultural Attaché’s visit is symbolic and a stimulus for the University. Prof. Ahaneku said that knowing the Chinese language and culture will help combat societal problems and provide job opportunities, as multi-nationals can employ interpreters and those who mediate in communication issues.
The Cultural Attaché, Yan Xiangdong in his speech said he was glad to be part of the event, and to have come to represent China in Nigeria. He said the great effort by the Confucius Institute in Nnamdi Azikiwe University is very commendable.
Expressing her confidence that the Centre has created yet another pathway towards excellence for UNIZIK, the Nigeria Director of the C.I., Prof. Carol Arinze-Umeobi said that in the relationship that exists, over 3000 students have accessed the HSK exams and about 400 students have gained admission into top 10 Universities in China through the scholarship platform of HANBAN. She said the Research Centre will, in the future, attract research fellows from other universities and research bodies from both within and outside Nigeria on part-time and full-time basis to access the rich facilities.
Speaking also, the Chinese Director of Confucius Institute, Dr. Wang Bo, expressed immense joy at the inauguration of the Chinese Cultural Research Centre in UNIZIK. He said the relationship between China and Nigeria has been solidified at the national level, and that it has opened doors for commerce, culture, academic and economic exchanges. Thanking the VC and the Nigerian Director of the Institute, he said they have worked hard to ensure that the Confucius Institute had a conducive environment.
In his vote of thanks, Prof. Alex Asigbo who is a member of the planning committee for the occasion, thanked all who came, praying for God’s safety as they left.
There were different Chinese performances by Nigerian students of the Institute; dances, speeches and designs. The Department of Theater and Film Studies also performed a dance drama. Others present for the occasion were, the Chinese Community, traditional rulers, Professors, staff, students, friends and well-wishers.