President Ramkalawan attends the opening of the Seychelles Chinese Cultural Center

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The President of the Republic, Mr. Wavel Ramkalawan, and the First Lady, Mrs. Linda Ramkalawan, were the guest of honor at the official opening ceremony of the Seychelles Chinese Cultural Centre, Benezet Street, Victoria last night.

The Chinese community here in Seychelles came together on this momentous occasion after the long-awaited opening of the Centre. It took 8 years for the Center to be completed.

Addressing the ceremony, President Ramkalawan congratulated the Chinese community on this milestone, which he said was fraught with difficulties.

“I would like to congratulate you on the completion of this Center. The old pagoda building was indeed a landmark for all Seychellois and here I would also like to thank the late Charlie Ng Ping Cheun who was the former President of the Chinese Association of Seychelles for his endless determination and for the energy he put into this project. so that we can have this new benchmark. This also applies to the current president of the association and all members. On behalf of the government, I thank the Chinese community for all that you have helped to make this country what it is today. This center is part of our culture, let us continue to develop our culture,” President Ramkalawan said.

For his part, the President of the Chinese Association, Mr. Robert Chong Seng, returned to the first stone of the new pagoda, laid in February 2014 during the first celebrations of the Seychelles-China day. He commented on the challenges they faced to see its completion including severe lack of funds, asking for financial aid and relentless fundraising among others. Mr. Chong Seng took the opportunity to thank the Chinese Ambassador, Ms. Wei Guo, for her dedicated assistance throughout the construction of the Center.

The Chinese Ambassador described the opening of the Center as a historic moment for Seychelles, which symbolizes a new beginning for the Chinese community.

The ceremony was marked by the cutting of the ribbon by the President, Ambassador Guo, Chinese elders, the President of the Chinese Association and other Chinese representatives. There was also the unveiling of the opening plate by two Chinese elders.

During the ceremony there was also a demonstration of Tai Chi. The Center offers Tai Chi classes every Friday from 4:30 p.m. to which the public can participate.

After the ceremony, President Ramkalawan and First Lady Ramkalawan along with other distinguished guests toured the Center where they viewed exhibits on the first and second floors. The exhibition highlights certain milestones of more than 100 years of existence of the Chinese Association and its precursor the KHUM FOCK FOOY QUOON (Cantonese and Fukienese society). It is centered on the old pagoda and its replacement; Seychelles Chinese Cultural Center.

The Center also hosts the Art and Design Pagoda, which aims to provide a platform where works of art and design are more accessible to visitors and residents; and where creatives can be rewarded with financial returns on the sale of their work.

Also present at the ceremony were the Vice President of the Republic of Seychelles, Mr. Ahmed Afif, and Mrs. Stella Afif, the Chinese community of Seychelles and other guests.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of State House – Office of the President of the Republic of Seychelles.

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James C. Tibbs