Academicians urged to explore expanding China-Africa relations

A visiting Nigerian scholar at the Peking University, Professor Femi Osofisan, has expressed worry about the lack of involvement of the academic community in the current mutual and expanding relationship between China and Africa.

“We seem to have surrendered the initiative to traders, businessmen and contractors,” he stated, and reminded academic communities both in China and Africa about possibilities available for them to get involved in the China-Africa relationship.

Prof. Osofisan was speaking during a conference on African languages and literature at the Peking University.

It was organised by the university’s Department of Asian and African Languages and Literatures in collaboration with the Centre for African Studies and School of International Studies.

The conference, which was held in remembrance of a famous Nigerian writer, the late Chinua Achebe, was also to promote the exchange of ideas and experiences of teaching African languages and cultures among universities.

It was held on the theme: “African languages and literature: Teaching and research”.

Prof. Osofisan, who is a former Director of the Drama Department of the Ibadan University in Nigeria, said there had been a growing interest among his students in the field of African studies.

He explained that the situation was the result of efforts by authorities of the Peking University to develop the study of African  literature and culture at the university and, eventually, in China generally.

Prof. Osofisan said the growing interest was the fact that China was currently developing a vast number of economic links with Africa and investing massively in all sorts of projects.

He observed that correspondingly, there was a swelling eagerness by Africans to know and study in China.

His regret, however, was that “it does not seem to me that we of the academic communities in both China and Africa are doing enough yet to explore this mutual, expanding burst of curiosity.”

Contributors to the discussions were unanimously of the view that currently, China-Africa relations could last and benefit future generations if efforts were made to narrow the cultural barrier between the two sides.

That, according to them, could be achieved through the study of the cultures of both China and Africa by the ordinary people.

A Ghanaian student at the university, Mrs Yvonne Prempeh, later submitted a paper on local languages spoken in Ghana.

She later led the African students in a performance to show the rich culture of Africa.

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