The Confucius Institute at Makerere (hereinafter ‘the Institute’) celebrated the Confucius Day and Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival on Saturday, 26 September, 2015, at its premises in Makerere University. The celebration was well attended, with about 500 people present, including the Institute’s staff members, students, and members of the general public. This is an impressive feat, considering that no media advertisement was done, thanks mainly to the Institute’s administrator, Mr Rodney Rugyema, assisted by students under their umbrella body, Makerere University Confucius Institute Students Association (MUCISA), led by Karungi Edinah (President) and Namaganda Jackline (Consultant).
The celebration is a twin worldwide ceremony: Confucius Day and Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival (known as Zhongqiu Jie in Chinese). In the former, the Chinese community remembers the wonderful works and teachings of the well-loved and world renowned Chinese teacher and philosopher, Confucius; while, the latter is historically an official harvest festival marked by Chinese and Vietnamese peoples, in observance of three fundamental concepts of gathering, thanksgiving, and praying.
In the concept of gathering, family members and friends come and enjoy or harvest crops together. Indeed, the Institute observed this rite by hosting 500 people, to whom it showcased different aspects of Chinese culture and also served them with delicious lunch of local food and drinks (water, sodas, and beers), all of which flowed in abundance. It was undoubtedly a day of great fun for all present.
In the concept of thanksgiving, people give thanks for the harvest of crops (especially, rice and wheat), and/or harmonious unions. In the past, food offerings were made in honor of the moon, to the lunar deity, Chang’e, known as the Moon Goddess of Immortality, believed to be responsible for rejuvenation of human life, being aided by the moon and water. The moon is central to Chinese culture because, among ancient Chinese, it symbolized unity and harmony. The Chinese still subscribe to this belief, although it is phasing out today due to changes in technology, science, economy, culture, and religion.
In the concept of praying, celebrants ask for conceptual or material satisfaction, such as for babies, a spouse, good health, beauty, longevity, or for a good future.
The Confucius Institute at Makerere is affiliated to Xiangtan University of China. This year’s celebrations in Uganda were hosted by the Institute, supported by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Uganda, and organized by the Institute’s students’ association, MUCISA.
Several activities were held, including showcasing Chinese language, Chinese martial arts and movies, Chinese food (like preparing moon cakes), among others. In learning centers, such as the Institute, the global celebrations include the Chinese Final Competition for the Mid-Autumn Festival which, according to Mr Rugyema, provide an opportunity to showcase what the Institute does. For instance, there was a Chinese speech and talent show, in which students competed. Aseya Phiona emerged best overall in this contest, followed by Praise Faith.
The day ended with classic entertainment, in which even staff members led by the Institute director, Professor Hong, participated, displaying rare dance moves, to the amazement and cheers of everyone. Students danced tirelessly to the music till late in the evening, thanks to the very good disc jockey (DJ).