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Photo of Vincy lass goes viral on social media

Photo of Vincy lass goes viral on social media

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“You don’t have to be naked and dress with your skin out to be beautiful and popular.”

That bit of advice comes from 14-year-old student of the St Joseph’s Convent Marriaqua (SJCM) Makeba Martin, whose photo went viral on social media where it has been shared over 50,000 times collectively on Facebook and Instagram.

Makeba’s journey to fame, popularity and world-wide recognition began on Tuesday, October 20, {{more}}2015 when she journeyed to Kingstown to be part of the bi-annual National Heritage Organization’s (NHO) National Cultural Parade.

While in the parade, the lass from Fairbairn Pasture was spotted by local cameraman Rohan Bellingy of I-Candi Pictures, who asked Makeba’s permission to take her photograph.

Bellingy, who runs a Facebook page called I-Candi Pictures said on Wednesday that when he saw Makeba at the parade, he was attracted to her natural “shy” look and asked her if he could photograph her.

“I just was looking in the crowd and saw this random girl with this innocent shy look. I noticed her skin colour and hairstyle and I asked her to take her picture, but her reply was, ‘I ain’t look good enough for that,’ but I took the photo,” remembers Bellingy.

He said that although he didn’t know Makeba at the time, he offered her some advice. “After I was finished she said ‘let me see the ugliness’ so I told her that she must never refer to herself as ugly, especially in front men, as that would seem as if she was vulnerable and persons could look to take advantage of that.”

Bellingy said that after he posted the parade photos on his Facebook page, Makeba’s photo got lost in the hundreds of shots, but before going to the SJCM’s school sports he reposted her photo on February 5, 2016.

“I said let me repost this pic as I was going to the school sports and by Monday, February 8, it had gone viral, but I didn’t know,” said Bellingy, who received a call from Calvert Jones of Milc Vision telling him that he was famous and that Makeba’s photo had gone viral.

The photo was reposted on a number of African websites and one Jamaican site, with all sites claiming Makeba was from their country. The Jamaican site even posted a ‘Jamaica’ logo over Makeba’s SJC school badge.

“People began calling me and telling me that I should have watermarked the photo, but I think that if it was watermarked, people would have been reluctant to share it and I have no problem with it being shared,” said Bellingy who added, however, that he did have a problem with what the Jamaican site did.

“A lot of Vincentians spoke out against this and I am glad, but a lot of Instagram sites contacted me and promoted me and the photo. I am happy other people shared it, because on my page it couldn’t accumulate all those likes and shares and have all those fans,” said Bellingy.

On Wednesday, when SEARCHLIGHT visited Makeba at home, the Form 3S student said that she had no idea that when she was photographed by Bellingy that her photo would have reached the world.

“I did not know that it would have such an impact. Rohan asked me if he can take a picture and two weeks ago I was in school and my friends telling me they see me on Facebook and when I came home I went on my laptop and saw my photo on sites like We African Nation,” said the smiling Makeba.

She added, “I feel happy although some of them thought that I came from Jamaica and Africa. They were saying I am beautiful and when I saw the captions I didn’t really mind they were getting the countries wrong, but I do want them to know I’m from St Vincent and the Grenadines. Plenty sites have the photo so I am kind of happy and proud of myself.”

Makeba, who said she feels popular and famous, is the daughter of Gillian Martin and Trinidadian Robert Scott.

The ebullient teen, whose favourite subjects are Agricultural Science and English and who has four brothers and two sisters, said that while the popularity and recognition is great and has her thinking about a career in modelling (she also wants to be a medical doctor), she wouldn’t mind being paid by the sites that used the photo.

She said that the hairstyle she was sporting in the photo took four hours to plait and was done by her sister.

“I am going to put it back in on Sunday.”

She revealed that since Bellingy took her photo, she has never seen him again, although he has visited her mother.

“Black girls are the prettiest, no matter what anybody says. I think I got my beauty from my mother’s side of family,” said the now confident glowing young lady, who has been labelled as an “African Princess” by thousands of persons on social media.

Commenting, Makeba’s mother Gillian, who runs Mama’s Corner bar and grocery at Fairbairne Pasture, said that she is proud of her daughter.

“I hope she continues to hold up her head and study she school book to reach as far as she can in life. She is a good child, very helpful; if you speak to her she will listen;” said Gillian, who revealed that her daughter will be 15 on July 2.

Offering advice to girls who post naked photos and revealing shots on social media, Gillian said, “I would hope that these young ladies behave themselves and obey their parents, because you know how things going right now.”

Meanwhile Makeba is basking in her new-found popularity and would like to ask young girls to desist from posting half-naked photos and videos on social media.(LC)

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