When Adikin Rose Mary, from Uganda, married a Chinese man and settled in a Chinese village eight years ago, everything seemed strange to her. Now, she is no different from the local wives, speaking fluent Chinese and cooking authentic Chinese dishes. Her social media videos recording her daily life have become a hit on the internet.
Rose’s videos are mostly about her cooking for her husband and son in Yecun Village of Suichang County, Lishui City in east China’s Zhejiang Province. She often shows the whole cooking process, from the field to the table, and cooks all kinds of dishes, from hot pot to Peking Duck and soup dumplings. In her videos, she interacts with her family and neighbors amiably in Mandarin with a local Suichang accent. The mouth-watering dishes, the countryside sceneries, lifestyle, and the uniqueness of Rose’s identity have made her videos a hit on the internet. Since July last year, when she posted her first video, she has won 11 million followers on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. “I just wanted to give it a try at the beginning. And I did not expect that I could win so many followers!” she said.
Rose, 29, was born and grew up in the countryside in Uganda. Eight years ago, she contacted a Chinese man, Wu Jianyun, online after Wu’s cousin, who was working in Uganda, introduced them. After getting along for a while, she made a courageous decision — to travel to China. Later, Rose and Wu fell in love and decided to marry and set up a family in Wu’s hometown Yecun Village. In the beginning, life was not easy for Rose. She could not speak Chinese well, and her husband had to work in the city to earn money. Gradually, her Chinese became fluent, and with a bright personality, she made friends with her neighbors. She felt a part of the village.
Wu once worked as a chef, so Rose learned to cook from him. After their son was born, Rose’s cooking skills improved by the day as she always made her son different foods. Inspired by China’s booming short video market, she decided to share her life and cooking online. “It seems as if Rose is a local woman.” From her videos, we enjoy the beauty of life, appreciate the delicacies, and learn how to cook.” Rose’s videos have been drawing floods of positive feedback from internet users.Currently, Rose has a five-person team for the filming, and her husband has returned home to join her in making short videos.
During the past eight years, Rose has also witnessed changes in China’s countryside. “In the beginning, the roads and the villagers’ houses were not as good as nowadays,” she said, adding that most of the men went to work in cities away from home, while the development of the countryside is offering chances for young people to work at their doorstep. In recent years, in line with China’s rural vitalization strategy, the city of Lishui has been developing countryside tourism and rural industries to help farmers improve their livelihood. Rose is satisfied with her life and hopeful for the future. “This is my ideal way of living — the family staying together and our son growing up healthy and happy,” she said.