May 11 afternoon, Valen sits on a bench in front of the library of the Beijing Technology and Business University with his mbira on his lap. [Photo by Sun Chi/Qianlong]
By Sun Chi
On May 11 afternoon, vacant musical sound was floating from the bench in front of the library of the Beijing Technology and Business University. A 20-year-or-so Zimbabwean young guy was playing mbira, a unique musical instrument from Africa. His fingers were dancing across the strings, while his body was following the music, swinging slightly. His dedicated performance attracted passers-by to stop and watch, though there was no verbal communication, at this very moment, they as strangers to each other enjoyed common joys with flowing music...
The player is called Valen. He comes from Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, now is an undergraduate student of Business School, Beijing Technology and Business University, majors in accounting. It is the fifth year he stays in Beijing.
Valen loves music. He has professional courses on accounting two days every week. In spare time after professional courses, he prefers to play music. Mbira is one of the instruments he is good at. Valen said mbira is popular in Zimbabwe and other African countries. “Mbira originates from Mozambique, it was used to pray for rain. Mbira can be sorted into many types, such as four-string, 60-plus-string and mine is 15-string that is the most common one. Many people have no idea about mbira, but they feel pleasant to hear the sound it makes which is like water,” Valen introduced that mbira can be played solo, but in Zimbabwe, the sound of mbira is often mixed with Jazz.
In addition to music, Valen is passionate about numbers. “When I was young, I wanted to be a journalist, but I loved arithmetic better,” Valen said when he spoke about why he chooses to study accounting in Beijing. His tie with Beijing was formed in 2013 when he first came to the city for Chinese Bridge competition. He said the diverse culture and people’s warmth let him feel that he should stay in Beijing a little longer. “Before I came to Beijing, my impression on Beijing remained what it was like in ancient China. I thought people dressed like those who stayed in the Forbidden City, but after I came, I figured out Beijing is wholly different from what I thought. It has everything...” The world needs further understanding of China. In Valen’s view, the 2022 Beijing Winter Games is an excellent opportunity to illustrate Beijing again in front of the world. “I will watch the Games on site, ” Valen said definitely.
In 2017, China put forward the “Belt and Road” Initiative. Valen deems the Initiative will greatly benefit common development of the world, “everyone should be with each other, we are people living in the same world. The initiative is perfect and will help a lot of people.” He said the “Belt and Road” Initiative is not only good for China but also other countries. Zimbabwe and China are old friends, RMB is a legal currency in Zimbabwe. And there are many ongoing projects which are jointly constructed by China. ”
During his years in Beijing, Valen not only experienced Spring Festival in Beijing but like many Chinese, chose to visit hometown for family reunion as well. He said, during Lunar New Year, Beijing cooled down suddenly, so he, like other non locals, chose to visit his own family. Like many Chinese, Valen is a filial son. Every day when he is in Beijing, he won’t forget contacting his presents several thousands kilometers away, “It is too far away, so I shall let them know that I’m ok.”
Valen is the oldest child in his family. He went out for work at an early age, which helped him improve his comprehensive quality. Staying far from home in Beijing, Valen has to handle many things on his own. His parents always respect his choices, but give him only one requirement that is being a good man. Valen agrees with the idea. He said: “Similar with Zimbabwe, China has time-honored culture. Culture is the root. A man won’t do bad things when he knows his culture.”
Valen plays mbira, a unique musical instrument from Africa. [Photo/Qianlong]
- An Egyptian ‘instructor’ at Chinese college
- Thomas: It’s a good time for me to study in China
- Cameroonian Lv Bu: I love Cao Cao of ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’
- Cameroonian Otto: China has so many opportunities
- Aziz Camara: Glad to learn advanced medical techniques in China
- Miss World Mariatu: China is my second hometown
- China’s reform and opening-up deserves study by any nation: Egyptian reporter
- Kenyan journalist: I see a real, open and flourishing China