The ‘My China’ essay competition, which was launched on April 3, 2018, will run for 21 weeks and is sponsored by the New Vision and the Chinese Embassy. In the eleventh winning essay, Joel Brian Butakha shares how he has experiences and learnt about China while in Uganda.
Recently, I was debating with myself on whether to participate in this essay contest or not. This was because I have never been to China so I saw myself without a captivating story to write. But upon thinking it through, it occurred to me that I have been having an experience of China my entire life.
This has been through the clothes I have worn, the phones I have used, movies I have watched, books I have read and friends I have made. Despite the friendships, the only thing close to Chinese I learnt from them was just the greeting ‘ni-hao’ which means ‘hello’. Most of what I know about
China comes from the movies, cartoons and books I have come across right from childhood. I remember the time when all I knew about China was kung fu, which was inspired by all the Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee movies I watched. I also later got to learn something about ancient China from stories and cartoons about Marco Polo and his adventures at Kublai Khan’s court.
It was also from these television shows that I got to learn something about Chinese culture.
This was specifically from the Kung Fu Panda movies and series. I got to learn about some Chinese delicacies like dumplings and noodles which I have grown to like. I also got to learn about some of the different Chinese festivals such as the Winter Solstice Festival, the Lantern Festival and the Lunar New Year which I loved because of the colourful sun lantern decorations, the folk dances, music and games, among others.
Last year, I learnt of another Chinese event here in Uganda known as the Dragon Boat Festival. This is one of the most important traditional festivals in China. It was the very first time Uganda held one. It was at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre in Entebbe.
It was such a fun-filled event that attracted many people from the ordinary to high profile members of society. There were several activities although most attention was on the very much anticipated dragon boat races that saw the Mayuge team win.
This was followed by performances by various Ugandan artists. It was such a fun and learning experience I should say and cannot wait for the next one this year.
It will be the second edition of the festival and will still be held at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre in Entebbe on June 16. It is one event I encourage Ugandans to attend.
I believe it will be an even better experience compared to last year’s with lots of activities like boat races, trade expos, food and fashion, various games, folk dances and music performances by various artists.
It has been through all these ways that I have been able to experience China in a quite unique way without even noticing it. I even remember the time I was inspired by these movies to learn the Chinese language online.
However, I soon realised it was quite challenging and not as easy as I thought it would be. This was because of all the different characters and words having a different tone; even the popular greeting “Nihao” took me some time to pronounce correctly.
However, it is still on my-to-do list as I believe learning to speak Chinese comes with its advantages; such as, aiding business transactions with the Chinese and maybe it would also help me easily order for food or grab a cab anytime I visit China.