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Sino-Kenyan Ties grow as Kenyan students mark Mid-Autumn festival

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A Kenyan dressed in a Chinese opera costume poses for a photo during a Chinese cultural event held at the Kenya National Theater in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 28, 2022. Launched by Chinese Embassy in Kenya, Kenya Cultural Center and Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi, an event themed with Chinese opera was held at the Kenya National Theater on Monday in Nairobi.(Photo: Xinhua)
A Kenyan dressed in a Chinese opera costume poses for a photo during a Chinese cultural event held at the Kenya National Theater in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 28, 2022. Launched by Chinese Embassy in Kenya, Kenya Cultural Center and Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi, an event themed with Chinese opera was held at the Kenya National Theater on Monday in Nairobi.(Photo: Xinhua)

Students from the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi, Kenya’s oldest university, on Thursday celebrated China’s Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Sept. 29 in accordance with the Chinese lunar calendar, to help enhance Sino-Kenyan ties.

The event, which brought together more than 50 attendees, featured activities including traditional Chinese music, dances, drama, poetry as well as preparation of mooncakes and lanterns.

Wang Shangxue, Chinese director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi, said the festival is commemorated in China when the moon is at its brightest. “We celebrate the festival by gathering with our family while eating mooncakes,” she said.

As part of celebrations to mark the festival, the students performed the Chinese opera dance, Chang’e to the Moon, where Chang’e is best known in Chinese mythology for leaving her husband to become the goddess of the moon.

Shantal Atieno, a 21-year-old student at Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi, said the festival was an eye-opening experience because it exposed her to one of the most important Chinese festivals. “My studies will now be easier because participating in the festival has given me insights into elaborate Chinese traditions,” she added.

Kathina Mweni, a lecturer at Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi, believed that the festival resonates well with locals because it coincides with the period when Chinese farmers harvest their crops. Mweni noted that the celebration is relevant to students of the Chinese language and culture because of the rich cultural Chinese traditions on display.

Caren Chebet, who is also a student at the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi, told Xinhua that the festival reminded her of Africa’s initiation ceremonies where families gather and strengthen their bonds. The 23-year-old said she enjoyed making mooncakes which is a significant part of the Mid-Autumn Festival.

For Johnson Kinuthia Gitau, a student at the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi, the most memorable part of the festival was the making of colorful lanterns. “I enjoyed making the lanterns because of their decorations which are now a symbol of Chinese culture,” said the 22-year-old.

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