Summary: Confucius Institutes Have Become Bellwethers of the Transmission of Chinese Culture in Africa
“Jasmine is a beautiful song, and I learned how Chinese people express their love from it. Traditional Chinese women dance in a elegant way, which is different from us”, said Elizabeth, a sophomore of the Confucius Institute in Uganda and a member of the art choir of the prestigious Makerere University in Uganda after her participation in the chorus of the Chinese song－Jasmine.
Traditional Chinese Umbrella Dance
On the evening of Feb. 18th, local time, the ceremony marking the 2nd anniversary of the Confucius Institute in Uganda was held at the auditorium of the main building of Makerere University. Students from the Confucius Institute presented a splendid performance with Chinese cultural characteristics to local people. The Phoenix Tail Bamboo under the Moonlight, a dance of China’s Dai nationality, deeply impressed the audience; the semichorus Invisible Wings showcased encouragement and beauty and the Blue and White Porcelain, a classic dance, won the applause of the audience ……
Sitcom Performance in Chinese
The Celebration Site
“I found learning Chinese very interesting. Though it has certain level of difficulties, I like Chinese and the Chinese culture, and I will do my best to learn it,” said Fraria, a senior student at the Confucius Institute.
The Confucius Institute in Uganda was co-established by Xiangtan University of China and Makerere University. Inaugurated in Dec., 2014, the Confucius Institute now has 3,000 students in campus. The Confucius Institute has set up a bachelor program for Chinese studies, and enrolled over 80 students in 3 consecutive years. It has also opened full-time Chinese courses and interest-oriented Chinese classes in many primary and secondary schools in Uganda. Nearly 1,000 students have attended such Chinese courses. In addition, the non-academic education of Chinese course with short terms here enjoys rapid development, as the number of trainees has exceeded 2,000 people.
Apart from Chinese language teaching, the Confucius Institute in Uganda is committed to promoting the Chinese culture. It has expanded the influence of the Chinese culture in local region through organizing the Confucius Institute Open Day, cultural activities during the traditional Chinese festivals, the first Chinese Culture Festival, Film Festival and other activities.
Attaching great importance to academic research and discussions, the Confucius Institute has consecutively organized lectures and symposiums such as “Confucius Institute and China-Uganda Cultural Exchanges”, “How to Run Confucius Institutes in Africa”, “African History and National Situations”, “Features of the African Culture and Teaching Methods” and “Confucius Institute Forum on Chinese and African Laws”, to improve its quality and level as well as enhance its academic taste.
John Ddumba-Ssentamu, Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, expressed that jointly running the Confucius Institute by the two universities of Uganda and China are the outcomes of bilateral education cooperation. It gives Ugandan students the chance to learn Chinese without spending too much money, which is not only conductive to their employments, but also improves their international views. Meanwhile, education activities held by the Confucius Institute also make the Chinese people understand the language and culture of Uganda, which is a kind of friendly cooperation with win-win results.
Janet Museveni, First Lady of Uganda said in her congratulatory speech on the 2nd anniversary of the Confucius Institute that the development of Uganda’s education is facing challenges. Uganda thanks the Chinese government for its support and assistance to Uganda’s education. Uganda hopes to learn from the cultural elements in China’s rapid development to propel its own national development and achieve people’s happiness.
H.E. Zheng Zhuqinag, Chinese Ambassador to Uganda believed that the long-standing Chinese civilization has a lot of common grounds with traditional African culture. China’s practice of the correct viewpoint of righteousness and benefit and developing cooperation with Africa based on the concept of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith are both derived from the Chinese culture. Currently, there is a strong development momentum of China-Uganda cultural exchanges, and Confucius Institutes are the bellwethers and one of the most effective ways of the transmission of Chinese language and culture to the outside world.
Hong Yonghong, Chinese Director of the Confucius Institute in Uganda expressed that the next step of the Confucius Institute is to focus on promoting the capacity-building of Chinese language teaching of teachers in Uganda’s middle schools. The Confucius Institute is going to carry out substantive work in compiling Chinese language teaching syllabus, management study, teachers’ training and other aspects. Uganda will hopefully incorporate Chinese into its national education plan within the next two years. Chinese could become an elective foreign language course in Uganda’s middle schools.
(Story by Yuan Qing, Xinhua News Agency, Kampala, Feb.19th)