By: Anas Elochukwu
20-year-old Raphael Ebube Ojimmadu from the Confucius Institute at Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU), Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria has carved a place for himself in the language world by finishing second among African participants in this year’s “Chinese Bridge: Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students”). The competition which held virtual owing to the Covid-19 pandemic involved a total of 130 national champions from 107 countries. Mr Ojimmadu who participated in the event as the 2020 Nigerian Champion also won three prizes—”First Prize”,”Chinese Language Ambassador” and “Most Popular Contestant” (which was decided by Internet pollsters).
Prof. Charles O. Esimone (FAS), Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University/Chairman of the Institute’s Governing Board, was elated at the news and has congratulated him, wishing him more laurels in future.
Mr. Ojimmadu is the third “Chinese Language Ambassador” from the Institute in the last 3 years. The first ambassador, Mr. Anthony Ebuka Ekwensi, after studying Chinese at the Institute for only 18 months, became the African Champion as well as the first “Chinese Language Ambassador” at the 17th “Chinese Bridge” which held in China in 2018. The second ambassador Mr. Samuel Miracle (then 16 years of age), was the African Champion as well as the second “Chinese Language Ambassador” in the 12th “Chinese Bridge”: Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign Secondary School Students) in 2019. He had learned Chinese for only 12 months.
Unlike his co-competitors who had the advantage of longer years of Chinese language study and acquaintance with China and the Chinese, Mr Ojimmadu had learned Chinese for only 18 months (June 2018- December 2019). Before enrolling at the Institute he knew absolutely nothing about Chinese. One of the 100-odd students of the Institute who won the Confucius Institute Scholarships (CIS) this year, he has been accepted to study Chinese at Shanghai International Studies University（SISU)—one of China’s premier language universities. Meantime, Mr Divine Chidera Azubuike (19 years old), who made the top 30 over all at the 13th (this year’s) “Chinese Bridge: Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign Secondary School Students” and who, like Mr. Ojimmadu, has studied the language for only 18 months, has been accepted by SISU too.
Language is an invaluable tool for bridge-building among peoples and nations, so the Institute is strongly hoping that its Chinese Language Ambassadors will contribute to the effort to strengthen friendship between Nigeria and China in the future. Determined to lengthen its current list of Chinese Language Ambassadors, the Confucius Institute at Nnamdi Azikiwe University will not sit on its laurels.
Dr. Anas Elochukwu is the Deputy Director of the Confucius Institute at Nnamdi Azikiwe University.