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How Content Creators Are Changing the China-Africa Story With Social Media

wode maya zhao huiling fjoy molly china africa story

In recent years, there has been a surge in vloggers or YouTubers educating and entertaining their followers on different topics based in Africa. This has also influenced China-Africa relations on a people level. The following content creators, Wode Maya, Zhao Huiling, and Fyjo Molly, are using social media to change the narrative around Africa, China, and the interactions between the two.

Ghana’s Wode Maya And His YouTube Journey

Wode Maya, whose original name is Berthold Kobby Winkler, hails from a village in Kofikrom in the western region of Ghana. He decided to start a Youtube vlog after he was discriminated against in China for being Black. During his six years in China, Wode Maya was once told, “Hey, we are looking for a Black man who looks like Obama, but you don’t look like Obama,” when he went out looking for a job. This experience and others compelled the young African to start a YouTube channel to share his experiences as a Black man living in China. 

In an interview with Face2face Africa, Wode Maya recalled that “It all started when I got tired of how Chinese people see me as a Black man coming from Africa…they thought that nothing good comes from Africa; Africa is a warzone area, so I decided to take this upon myself to change the narratives. So I decided to quit my job. I’m an aeronautical engineer. I decided to quit my job, go out there and promote Africa in my own way as a Black man telling the African story.”

Wode Maya’s father advised him earlier to step further from just vlogging entertaining jokes to using his fluency in Mandarin to educate Chinese people he meets regularly about Africa. Wode Maya said “that is where I listened to my Dad and decided to talk about Africa-China relationship, and from there, my whole YouTube channel escalated. I mean, I thank my Mom for supporting my dream but I also thank my Dad for giving me that idea to become who I am right now.”

Wode Maya left China with a loan from friends to pursue his passions and first traveled to about five African countries sharing his travel experiences and each country’s culture. Today, his YouTube channel, which started off as a bridge between Africa and Asia, has grown to be the welcome train to the African diaspora, Face2Face reported. 

A New China-Africa Generation Telling a New China-Africa Story 

Wode Maya is part of an emerging and new generation of China-Africa vloggers who aim to tell a different story of Africa using the power of social media. Zhao Huiling, a Chinese woman who spent most of her formative years in Ghana, is equally contributing to changing perspectives about Africa and Africans in her vlogging platform. 

In a publication by RADII China, Zhao said, “during recent years, there has been a growing interest in Africa, especially amongst the Chinese. Unfortunately, the narrative remains the same: the safari, the wildlife, and the usual Discovery Channel imagery. But through my travels, I have discovered vibrant, young energy bursting with creativity in many parts of Africa I’ve traveled to. That’s what I will showcase in my channel: the social entrepreneurs; the fashion designers; the artists and more.”

“A lot of things in Africa still feel far away for most Chinese people. You need a good mouthpiece to share the message and put it in the right context…I think what makes me different is that I have an insider’s perspective, I grew up in Africa. I consider it home.” Zhao said in an interview.

At the beginning of 2019, Huiling launched a new video series on Chinese social media channels to showcase her experiences in Africa and, at the same time, attempt to challenge the stereotypes about the continent and its people that are now pervasive in traditional media. Thus “In 2019, I have only one wish… to take you along with me to see Africa,” Huiling said in a video. 

Other Chinese social media content creators, like Fyjo Molly 非洲茉莉, or “African Jasmine” in English, have launched similar vlogs that are intended to highlight their personal experiences in Africa that are far more nuanced and textured than what is available on TV and in movies. 

Can the social media approach adopted by these young China-Africa vloggers contribute to changing the ‘old narrative’ of Africa to Chinese? What impact can that have on people-to-people relations in the Sino-Africa cooperation?

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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