The Chinese community in Kenya staged a monumental gala in Nairobi, the first of its kind in the region, to welcome the Lunar New Year.
Famous as the Chinese Spring Festival, the daylong gala saw Kenyans joining their Chinese counterparts in celebration of the onset of the year of the Dragon, which is a symbol of luck and wisdom in Chinese culture, amid commitments from Nairobi and Beijing to continue fostering stronger people-to-people relations.
The Kenya Overseas Chinese Association and the Kenya Chinese Women Association came together to co-host the event themed “Embracing the Chinese New Year”.
The Director General United Nations Office at Nairobi Madam Zainab Hawa and the Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Zhou Pingjian also graced the celebration.
Traditional Chinese decorations and performances characterized the day, and those in attendance, Kenyans included, were treated to a feast of music, dance, and culinary delights, showcasing the rich tapestry of Chinese culture.
“For us Chinese living overseas, celebrating the Spring Festival holds many special meanings. 2024 is the year of the Dragon, The typical Chinese dragon is a fascinating creature deeply embedded in Chinese culture as a symbol of luck, strength, and wisdom,” the two associations said in a statement
“We believe that the inaugural Nairobi Chinese New Year Gala presented a rich, colorful, and lively Chinese festival culture feast to the Chinese community in Kenya and the Kenyan people to celebrate together the auspicious Year of the Dragon,” added the organizers.
Gao lauded the recent decision by the 78th United Nations General Assembly to unanimously pass a resolution, officially designating the Chinese New Year as a UN floating holiday.
Reiterating the significant contribution made by the Chinese community in Kenya in recent years, Kenya Oversees Chinese Association Chairperson Gao Wei outlined numerous initiatives that have enhanced economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges between China and Kenya, promising to do even more this year.
“The cooperation between the two governments has been very good. We also have many Chinese here. We are in different areas or fields and businesses. Today’s event is part of the Chinese culture. That is why we want our Kenyan friends to know they can use such platforms to strengthen our cooperation. We respect each other and grow together,” said Gao
The initiatives, he indicated, include the expansion of trade partnerships, the promotion of cultural exchanges, and the facilitation of educational opportunities for Kenyan students in China.
On his part, the chairperson of the Kenya China Alumni Association Chairman Dr. Henry Rotich underscored the importance of the occasion in strengthening the bonds of friendship between the two nations.
He emphasized China’s unwavering commitment to deepening cooperation with Kenya across various sectors, including trade, investment, education, and tourism.
“The healthy cooperation that Kenya has with China brings a lot of benefits. Today we see the Chinese helping in key infrastructure like the Standard Gauge Railway, and the Nairobi Expressway. We also see many scholarships from Chinese to Kenyans who go to China for further studies and come back home to help in nation-building,” said Rotich.
The Spring Festival is the most important traditional festival in China and also one of the important festivals celebrated by Chinese people worldwide.
The Chinese Embassy in Kenya described the festival as a festival of nature, family, and soul, and belongs to the world.
“It embodies the core values of harmony, love, and peace in Chinese culture, and symbolizes the Chinese people’s love for the family, the nation, and as well as the world,” said the embassy
Though originates from China, the embassy says the Lunar New Year belongs to the whole world noting that approximately one-fifth of the world’s population celebrates it in different forms.
“Civilizations have become richer and more colorful with exchanges and mutual learning. Such exchanges and mutual learning form an important drive for human progress and global peace and development,”
“We are very happy to see overseas Chinese in Kenya spending the Spring Festival with Kenyan people and international tourists, sharing joy, jointly building a multicultural dialogue platform, promoting cultural exchanges and mutual learning between China and Kenya, working together on Global Civilization Initiatives, and actively promoting the building of an even closer China-Kenya community with a shared future in the new era,” noted the embassy