I want to be bridge between Nigerian, Chinese cultures-Chief Mike Yusuf Ugwu

Posted on: February 22, 2024, by :

High Chief Mike Yusuf Ugwu is the Vice Chairman, China-Africa Business Council, and also Culture Ambassador of Nigeria and China. His Chinese name is Zheng  Xiaopeng, but prefers to answer his African name with his traditional titles.  He has the traditional titles of the Onodebeze 1of Ibagwa-Nike, Enugu State, and the Okenwa 1of Ifite Ogwari kingdom, Anambra State. He was also conferred with an Otunba title in Ago Iwoye, Ogun State.

 Ugwu has fallen in love with Afro-Nigerian culture in the course of his stay in Nigeria, and has been part of development and empowerment in several communities in different parts of Nigeria. He spoke to Okorie Uguru on his passion for Nigerian cum African culture. Excerpts:

Please could you introduce yourself to our readers?

I am Mike Yusuf Ugwu.

Where are you originally from?

I am originally from China. I am also from Enugu, Anambra and Ogun States. I am a title holder in Enugu, Anambra and Ogun states?

How long have you been in Nigeria?

Eight years, but I have been in Africa for more than 15 years.

You seem to love African culture with your titles and dressing, what is so special about African culture to you? Also, how did you become Okenwa 1  ( great son) of Ifite Ogwari kingdom, Anambra State?

For me, I have been in Nigeria for eight years. I travel a lot-to Hausa land, Kaduna, Katsina and so on. I also travel to the East, to Igbo land. I love the Nigeria culture. I enjoy the festivals like the Ofala in Igbo land. When I met my Igwe, the Igwe of Abakpa-Nike in Enugu State, we talk a lot about culture, every other thing. He invited me to come to his palace. You know I am a Chinese, and a lot of Chinese people in the country are worried about their security in Nigeria. But I was not worried, I trusted him and I was not worried by any security challenge. I went. When I got to Enugu, my Igwe took me his community and showed me a lot about the culture of the people. I also tried to help the people.

In what areas were you trying to help the people?

I tried to help in different areas. I also love the people’s culture and tried to learn it and the food. After about a year or two, my Igwe saw that I was a good man. So, in Ofala, he tried to give me the title  Onodebeze 1. That is the title from Enugu State. But the title from Ifite Ogwari, Anambra state is Okenwa 1.

In other words, you have two Igbo communities giving you titles?

Yes. Also, I have one from Ago Iwoye, Ogun State. I am an Otunba there. This was about three months ago. So, anywhere I visit, they like me because I love the people’s culture.  I love Nigeria. You can see what I am wearing, my cap, my staff, and my attire reflect the cultures of these places.

What do you love most in these cultures?

It is a dance. I love dancing. You know, our Hausa dance is mild, but our Igbo dance is energetic. I love dancing. When I saw the dance, I tried to understand what the dance was all about. You know, many Chinese come to Nigeria, but they don’t understand the culture. It is important to understand the culture, culture is something to make you more comfortable. It helps you to work together.

I have already gotten a title from Igbo and Yoruba land, and in the future; I want to show our culture. I want to be the bridge between Nigerian and Chinese culture. Also, in the future, I will go to Nigeria and Ashante Kingdom to show our Nigerian culture because Nigeria is the number one in Africa, and the most wonderful.

So, which Nigerian food do you like?

I like the fish and vegetable soups.

How about the Igbo food?

There are a couple of them that I love, but know how to pronounce.  

You have titles in Igbo land and Hausa land, in the future, do you intend to have a title from Hausa land?

Two months ago, I was in Gombe State to see the governor. He wanted to give the title Sarkin Kasuwa. For me, I have travelled a lot in Hausa land. I have many brothers and sisters there. So, in the future, insha Allah, I will get a title from Kano.  Because I want to promote our culture, Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, and China to the world.  

You are the Vice Chairman of the Nigeria-China Business Council, what is the body about?

In the council, we promote business and trade between Nigeria and China. So, promote projects in the areas of energy, construction, agriculture, and mining. The council also promotes business relationships between Nigeria and China. We are bridge builders in the business relationship between Nigeria and China. We continue to do all these with the support of the Nigerian government.   

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