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Friday, September 22, 2023

African Talents Shine in China’s Media Landscape

LifestyleCelebritiesAfrican Talents Shine in China's Media Landscape

When Nmanka Swai arrived in China with dreams of studying international business, she didn’t anticipate that her linguistic skills and passion for voice-over work would carve a new path for her. StarTimes, a leading Chinese digital pay television company headquartered in Beijing, recognized her unique talent and brought her onboard as a voice actor. The company, which broadcasts Chinese content such as movies and TV series to African audiences, found in Nmanka a rare blend of language expertise and a passion for the arts.

Having an “open mind to try different things” proved beneficial for Nmanka. The art of dubbing is intricate. She found herself channeling varying emotions, from smooth and calm tones to raw anger, to breathe life into characters. Nmanka shared the challenges and excitement of this craft, emphasizing how one has to synchronize their real-life persona with the character for the magic to happen.

Now, each time a new Chinese TV drama airs, it becomes a guessing game for Nmanka’s family and friends back in Tanzania, trying to identify which character she has voiced. The appreciation isn’t just limited to her circle, as her Tanzanian social media followers laud her work, viewing her as a symbol of an independent woman. Moreover, through her work, she has garnered insights into China’s rich history and cultural influences, adopting the Confucian principle, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you,” as her life mantra.

In a similar tale of success, Joelle Zita Bolabola, affectionately known as Bola, transitioned from a graduate of a Chinese university to becoming a popular TV host at StarTimes. Her work, especially on the show ‘China-Africa Express’, is pivotal in showcasing the collaborative efforts between China and Africa. Bola is determined to show the constructive outcomes of this partnership, countering the often skewed narratives presented by some major Western media outlets.

Bola’s journey in China spans over a decade, and she’s witnessed the nation’s remarkable evolution firsthand. Reflecting on simpler times when daily tasks like purchasing subway tickets required manual effort, she marvels at today’s technological conveniences. Influenced by the Chinese philosophy of “delayed gratification”, she’s adopted a long-term vision for her life, admiring the wisdom embedded in Chinese culture.

Her participation in the 2018 CCTV Spring Festival Gala, where she was viewed by over a billion people, amplified her prominence. The opportunity led to widespread recognition, even surprising her own parents with her proficiency in Chinese. Bola feels an innate responsibility to be a cultural ambassador, promoting China-Africa exchanges and emphasizing the importance of projects like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). To her, the BRI signifies Africa’s move towards self-reliant development, and she hopes the continent will draw inspiration from China’s transformative poverty alleviation strategies.

Both Nmanka and Bola’s narratives underscore the mutual respect and collaboration between China and Africa, painting a tapestry of shared dreams, cultural exchange, and boundless potential.


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