Mariatu Kargbo; Black-Chinese from Sierra Leone

Mariatu Kargbo in a picture taken in a beauty pageant in China in 2007. Photo: sina.com

Mariatu Kargbo, is a 5 feet 8 inches tall mixed-race woman from Sierra Leone and now a singer based in China. People there have given her the nickname Luminous Black Pearl Maria. In China, luminous pearl is regarded as a symbol of nobility and happiness and is often used as a metaphor for beautiful and loving young ladies.

In 2009, Kargbo became the only contestant in the Miss World history to win two awards in the same section – Miss World Talent and Miss World Dress Designer. She is regarded as a super star in her native Sierra Leone.

During conversations one can easily feel her gentle temperament, intelligence, open mindedness, and mature personality which perhaps has much to do with her difficult childhood period.

Kargbo was born in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. “My father passed away when I was three months old. And my mom fell ill while giving birth to me,” Kargbo said, “I had to engage in some small businesses in the street, like selling iced-water, to support my family and make money for my schooling.”

“But the money earned this way was far from enough. I then started to sing and dance when I was eight years old. I went around with a performing group to different countries to perform, model, sing and dance,” she said. As Kargbo struggled to make a living, she did not know that a life-changing opportunity was awaiting her 6,000 miles away, in China.

ln the year 2004, Mariatu Kargbo was invited to participate in a beauty contest held during the International Kite Festival in Weifang, a Chinese city in Shandong Province, where kite flying is a traditional custom.

It was Kargbo’s first trip to China and that event marked the beginning of her colorful life in a new country that has become her second home.

In Weifang, the young Sierra Leonean African girl immediately impressed the entire audience when she first walked onto the stage and sang a popular Chinese love song called xiao wei (which is a nickname used for young girls). “I changed the lyrics intuitively using the city’s name Weifang to replace the original xiao wei. It instantly won admiration from the people,” Kargbo said excitedly.

In the end, Kargbo won the award of Miss Kite together with the prize money of 2,000 US dollars. “It was a big amount,” Kargbo said. “You could use that money to buy a piece of land and build a house in Sierra Leone at that time.”

But the money wasn’t big enough for the future plans of the newly crowned Miss Kite. Using the money, she made her first music album in China and got it distributed in Sierra Leone. The album sold surprisingly well. People were curious about how a black girl could sing in Chinese!

“Though they could not understand the Chinese lyrics in some of my songs, they were deeply touched by the effort,” she said. Kargbo then donated all the proceeds from the album to the Sierra Leonean orphans.

Today Mariatu Kargbo is carving a strong presence for herself in the Chinese entertainment scene by using both her understanding of this Asian culture and her African identy to create a uniquely appealing personality.

Enjoy one of Mariatu’s music videos below in praise of Afro Sino girls:

Source: Wu Xiujie of sino-us.com 

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