writers Zheng Kaijun, Jing Jing JOHANNESBURG (Xinhua) --
Cultural exchanges are crucial for Chinese and African people to
understand each other and for the two sides to further
consolidate their relations, a South African scholar has said.
People-to-people exchanges should be a
priority in China-Africa relations since the two sides need to
better understand each other’s culture, history and even law,
David Monyae, co-director of the Confucius Institute at
University of Johannesburg, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Established in 2016, the Confucius
Institute at University of Johannesburg is the youngest of its
kind in South Africa.
There is a growing interest among the
young people in Africa to know more about China, said the
co-director, who also underlined the need for direct exchanges
between the Chinese and African people.
“There were a lot of reports that we
heard in the past about China, but they were not told to
Africans by Chinese, but by Westerners, who dominated the
media,” said Monyae, also an expert on international relations
and foreign policy.
“There’s a danger if the picture you
are shown is not true,” he said. “But people now are growing
much more aware that they want to know China from the Chinese
people. So it is also the mission of our institute to serve as a
bridge for that.”
Besides teaching the Chinese language
and culture, Monyae’s institute is also doing research on topics
like China-Africa relations and BRICS cooperation.
“Other things also come to us that are
Western-driven, like telling the negative things about China,
even about the Confucius Institute,” he said. “But we are
independent people. We don’t have room for anyone to tell us who
should be our friends. We choose the best and those who respect
Africans also need to be better
understood in China, said Monyae.
The South African expert expressed the
hope that media organizations in both China and African
countries could have more ordinary people tell their own
In addition, exchanges over poetry,
music, drama, theater and sports can further strengthen the
cultural link between Chinese and Africans, he said.
Monyae also referred to “Ubuntu,” an
African philosophy that he believes is “not far from
Confucianism” as both of them emphasize caring and sharing.
“In Ubuntu, we believe that ‘I am
because of you,’ which means I cannot exist in your absence.
Your well-being is good for me as well. For me to get peace in
my life, I have to make sure that my neighbor is not hungry and
there’s peace in my neighbor’s house,” Monyae explained.
“We are a caring civilization. There
is the need to remember and carry on our own philosophy and
learn from other philosophies. That is also why we have interest
in Confucianism,” he added. Enditem
(Xinhua reporters Zhao Zhuoyun and
Wang Yanan also contributed to the report.)