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Celebrating Sisterhood across Oceans
China-Africa cultural exchange in Beijing underlines sorority as tribute to International Women's Day
By Ni Yanshuo | Web Exclusive


 Guests at the China-Africa cultural exchange program  

Chinese and African cultures, despite their apparent differences, are very similar and it is this that ignites people's curiosity and makes them interested to know more about one another.

Observing this at a China-Africa cultural exchange event held in Beijing on March 12 as a tribute to International Women's Day, celebrated worldwide on March 8, Dolana Msimang, South African Ambassador to China, told the audience comprising African diplomats, government officials and other distinguished guests, "It makes us reach out to each other across oceans and barriers."

BEIJING REVIEW President Li Yafang speaks on the foundations for mutual understanding and exchange between African and Chinese women 

The event, held at Minzu University of China, was sponsored by the university and BEIJING REVIEW, and was organized by ChinAfrica magazine.

"It is important to embrace the theme of this event, which is about integration and culture," Msimang added. "It is about synergy of diverse cultures. It is about us getting together, to celebrate all that is beautiful and wonderful about China and Africa."

South African Ambassador Dolana Msimang presents an award to a student

 Li Yafang, President of BEIJING REVIEW, remarking that both China and Africa have always attached great importance to the role of women, quoted what Chinese President Xi Jinping had said at the Global Women's Summit in the UN Headquarters in New York City in September 2015.

Women are creators of material and spiritual wealth and represent an important force driving social development and progress, Xi had said. Without women, there would be no continuity of the human race or the human society.

"Chinese and African women, though having different values and traditions, are both beautiful, diligent, resilient and kind. These form the foundations for mutual understanding and exchange," she said.

She hoped the event would provide a platform for a rich exchange of cultures. "The activities will help us have a better understanding and recognition of each other, and a more profound friendship," she said.

BEIJING REVIEW President Li Yafang answers questions from the media

Feng Lan, Director General of the International Cooperation Department of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, said China is a big harmonious family with cultural diversity. "Today, meeting our sisters from African countries, I am deeply touched by the affectionate friendship between China and Africa," she said.

In her welcome speech, Song Min, Vice President of Minzu University of China, said, "Africans have long created and developed brilliant ancient civilizations. China is thousands of miles away from Africa and they are separated by oceans, but we have a long history of friendly exchanges."

With March 12 observed as Arbor Day in China, Song wished the tree of friendship between the two sides would "thrive, bloom and bear fruits."

Tania Romualdo, Ambassador of Cabo Verde to China, told ChinAfrica. "I believe Chinese and African women can learn much more if they start sharing experiences. Culture is one of the most powerful weapons in our hands if we use it well and [get] the most out of it."

Romualdo said Cabo Verde has made great achievements in promoting gender equality. "In our previous government, two thirds of the ministers were women. For equal jobs we receive equal salaries. We have equal access to opportunities in education and employment," she said.

A performance at the China-Africa cultural exchange program

The guests included Zhang Jingze, Full-Time Member of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission of China and Secretary of the CPC Committee of Minzu University of China, Jiang Jie, Counselor of the Department of African Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and representatives of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

Nearly 50 women from over 10 African countries added color to the event by showcasing their traditional attire. There were also performances by students from the Chinese ethnic minorities. Zhou Xiangmin, a student at the university, spoke about the African women she admired. The event also included a visit to the Museum of Ethnic Cultures.

The program was supported by the embassies of South Africa and Cabo Verde in China and the Southern African Development Community Women's Association.

(All photos by Wang Xiang)

Copyedited by Sudeshna Sarkar

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