Finding Love In The Middle of A Global Health Crisis

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Mariama & Cheick

It was business at first sight when I met Cheick Oumar Thiero, a tall 6’10 former professional athlete and son of Africa from the Republic of Mali, at the 60th Independence Day celebration of the Republic of Guinea, hosted by the current Ambassador of the Guinean Embassy in Washington DC. A mutual friend of ours named Chriss Portella felt compelled that we should meet and arranged for us to connect at the Guinean soiree held every year in the month of October.

As a daughter of Africa born and raised in the heart of New York City with roots from Conakry, Guinea, I was looking forward to a pleasant evening. When Cheick arrived towards the end of the event, our initial introduction was all handshakes as I glanced at a very tall, dark, and handsome man with a baby face. We both immediately got right down to business, as our conversation was focused on his ability to identify Diaspora guests for Voice of America programming, as a multimedia producer for the largest and oldest U.S. funded international broadcaster that produces digital, TV, and radio content in 47 languages and distributes to affiliate stations around the globe. As a supportive friend, Chriss advocated for my work in international affairs with a focus on Africa’s sustainable development and passion for empowering women through mentorship globally to be featured on a VOA platform. It was in no time that I learned, Cheick was a man of his word and less than a month later I was scheduled to be featured on Africa 54 a 30-minute show that conducts interviews with top experts and analysts that have a footprint in Africa.

Over time our friendship turned into a dating relationship, in the midst of moving to Haiti for a one-year overseas assignment.  After 6-months due to COVID,  I returned to Washington D.C and our relationship transitioned into a union of two authentic souls, filled with passion and the purpose of influencing humanity in style.  What we shared in common was an ambitious vision for our lives, priceless bond with our parents as they have both reached over 40+ years of marriage. In this day and age, it is rare and definitely an achievement.  As a founder of a Strategic Communication consulting business and Cheick’s background in media, we both value redefining the Africa narrative and take pride in using our platforms to highlight our culture and heritage in a compelling way. Two years later, featuring the talents of global designers we curated an engagement session at the international Meridian House, located in the heart of Washington D.C. celebrating our union of black excellence, infusing custom African couture dresses made with premium “Bazin” fabric flown in from Mali and a tie-dye gown ensemble made from silk by Sierra Leone designer House of Moliz, based in Freetown. This was coupled with Cheick’s two-piece luxury bespoke suit from, Uomo Attire based in Pakistan, all in our favorite shades of purple that exudes royalty. This marked the beginning of planning our international wedding extravaganza connecting West African, Afro-Puerto Rican, and Black-American multi-cultural experiences to celebrate the most memorable day of our lives.


Event Venue: Meridian International Center//Hair Stylist: Signature Image Salon//Dress Designer: House of Moliz//Dress Designer: Moh B. Couture//Makeup Artist: Shiedha Okquane//Other: Mariama Keita Inc.//Photographer: Amy Anaiz Photography

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