by Tafara Mugwara
HARARE, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabweans and Chinese nationals in the country welcomed the Lunar New Year with a bang Friday night at a gala that brought together diverse cultures to celebrate the most important season on the Chinese calendar.
Scores of people from all age groups thronged the Seven Arts Theater in Harare to witness mesmerizing performances including music, dance, martial arts, fashion displays, poem, and acrobatics from local and Chinese performers.
Some Zimbabwean performers, including the Confucius Institute musical group, used the opportunity to showcase their Chinese language skills through songs.
Organized by the China-Zimbabwe Exchange Center, a non-governmental organization dedicated to the advancement of China-Zimbabwe cultural and socio-economic development, the event was attended by locals, representatives from the Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe as well as other Chinese nationals in Zimbabwe.
Cheng Yan, charge d'affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe, wished China and Zimbabwe great success in the Year of the Rabbit.
"I would like to extend the warmest festival greetings and best wishes to the guests and compatriots, and express our sincere congratulations to you all for the longstanding support and contribution for the development of our countries, of the China-Zimbabwe friendship," Cheng said.
In addition, he wished the two countries vitality and prosperity in the coming year.
"I wish our two people's greater friendship. I wish the friendship between China and Zimbabwe last forever. I wish the cooperation between our two countries a great success," he said.
"The friendship between China and Zimbabwe is unbreakable, the cooperation between our two countries is unstoppable and the close bond between our two people is unchangeable," Cheng added.
The Lunar New Year for 2023, which falls on Sunday, Jan. 22, marks the arrival of the Year of the Rabbit, a gentle animal that is regarded as one of the luckiest on the Chinese zodiac.
In a speech read on his behalf by Zimbabwe's Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga expressed his congratulations to Chinese people as they welcome the new year.
"On behalf of the government of Zimbabwe, and people of the Republic of Zimbabwe and on my own behalf, I wish to extend to you warm congratulations on the advent of the Chinese Lunar New Year. We are happy to join you in celebrating the onset of the Year of the Rabbit, which symbolizes longevity, peace and prosperity," Chiwenga said.
Over the years, he said, Zimbabwe has witnessed increased growth of investments by the Chinese government and Chinese companies.
"The Chinese government and business community have transferred technical expertise and created employment opportunities for tens of thousands of our people," Chiwenga said.
He acknowledged the role that Chinese companies are playing in boosting production in the economy and transforming the livelihoods of locals.