Benin superstar building bridges between China and Africa
"You can speak Chinese!"
"I can also speak Changsha dialect!"
Photo from Abohoui Luc's Weibo page.
The man you see in pictures can do more than speak the Changsha dialect. He can cook Hunan dishes, make kung fu tea and even sing Huagu Opera, a Chinese opera originating in Hunan province. He is not a foreigner anymore — more like a Changsha local.
He is Abohoui Luc, from Benin in western Africa. For the past 17 years, he has lived in Changsha, capital of Hunan province in central China.
He has a Chinese name, Mao Lyuke, which is famous in Changsha. His star rose when the entertainment industry gave him a chance to showcase his talents on TV.
He acts as a singer, a host and works on his own documentary projects.
Now, besides his art career, he also serves as a representative for the National Confederation of Employers of Benin.
"My Changsha dream is slowly being realized, but I still have a bigger dream. I hope I can play a role in promoting win-win cooperation between Changsha and Benin, China and Africa," Luc said in an interview.
"Our confederation has held a discussion with the Changsha National High-tech Industrial Development Zone to start an office in their international science and technology business platform," Luc introduced.
"If everything goes well, our office can be launched in September," he added.
The confederation aims to build a bridge between China and Benin, with the help of the Belt and Road Initiative.
"If enterprises in China or Benin want to explore the market in the other country, the confederation can help them understand the targeted country's market conditions and regulations."
In 2000, when he worked for a construction company in Benin, Luc got a chance to study in China with funding from the Chinese government.
"Despite the long distance, I was very excited that I could visit Jackie Chan and Jet Li's hometown," Luc said. "I didn't know Changsha at that time."
Changsha is a well-known city for entertainment — offering an opportunity for Luc, who has a great talent for singing and dancing.
When he performed a section of a famous Peking Opera on a TV talent show in 2005, he caused quite a stir.
His sense of humor has made him a frequent guest on variety TV shows, like Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students, CCTV's Foreigner in China and Avenue of Stars.
Shortly after making a name for himself, Luc fell in love. In 2013, he married a Chinese girl, Guo Hongyan, who gave birth to a baby.
"We plan to have another baby next year," Luc said, smiling while talking about his family.
"I hope my children can finish their education here just like Changsha kids. Changsha is my second hometown, and my family is the biggest highlight of my time in Changsha," he said.