Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Winds from Beijing

The Chinese community in Nairobi had a rare concert/Performance on September 8, 2011 at the University of Nairobi Taifa Hall.  The performance was aptly titled ‘The wind from Dunhuang’ and was performed under the auspices of Forum for China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) which China in cooperates a culture aspect of engagement with Africa.
So under this auspices China has a Chinese Culture in Focus 2011 calendar of events in which it organizes exhibitions, performances, concerts, operas, kite flying and Chinese book fairs in countries where it has a presence in Africa. Some of these countries are Mauritius, Tanzania, Seychelles, Gabon, Burundi, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Senegal, South Africa and Kenya.
The last two countries South Africa and Kenya experiencing a lot of contact and spotlight from Beijing now that Egypt the seat of FOCAC  is undergoing some turbulent times as a result of the Arab Spring/Uprising.
The Event
The event was set up at the Nairobi University grounds which houses the Confucius Institute and has been very cordial to China under Prof. Magoha’s tenure.
The performance was an evening event and by 7.30 the hall was half full of Chinese living in Kenya (Some of the with Jackets with the logo of Wu Yi a Chinese company constructing Thika road) and few students (some Chinese students) and other students at the University who out of curiosity wanted to see what was happening in the hall.
A table with red piece of cloth was set for the dignitaries at the front (Chinese ambassador to Kenya and other dignitaries accompanying the troupe on its tour of African countries).
The Performance
The performance started at 8pm and we were treated to some great performances on this evening. A dance: Raise your bridal veil kicked off the evening with Chinese drums playing in the background. Mind you the evening performances were done with a playback on the background. There after a female solo: A glass of good wine was performed by one of the MC’s.
We were also given a folk dance number from Tibet: The Love Song of Kangding and boy that dance was perfectly executed. This showcased the liveness and kind of shyness of Tibetan girls and later we were treated to a male group dance-the happy Tibetans (Political undertones?)
Showcasing the diversity of China we were treated to a play of Matouqin. A Mongol string musical instrument with two aptly titled performances; A thousand horses are galloping ahead and sing a spring song in pasture
Acrobatic Shows
Also on the menu from China was an acrobatic show which was good and a unique skill in Sichuan opera-Changing Faces which great.
Friends, Partners & Brothers
Just as we have a book by Elizabeth Gilbert with the philosophy of eat, pray and love. The philosophy or the mantra that Beijing is sending out to Africa was out there to be showcased.
The evening ended with these words ‘Friends Partner Brother’ in a banner. This is the message that Beijing is sending out to Africa.
Now I am looking forward to Embrace China-Performance and visit by Chinese Arts Troupe and Chinese Book Fair.
The Return of China to Africa
Dan Large’s book The Return of China to Africa is a worthwhile read to understand the China-Africa Geopolitics.

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