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Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll was born on February 2, 1977 in Barranquilla, Colombia. She is the only child of Nidia del Carmen Ripoll Torrado, a Colombian of Catalan-Italian descent, and William Mebarak Chadid, an American-born Lebanese-Catholic. Her father also had eight children with his former wife. One of her siblings is also her road manager.
Shakira, which means "grateful" or "thankful" (شاكِرة) in Arabic, is named after her paternal grandmother. She spent much of her youth in Barranquilla. She has stated to have grown among Lebanese, Jewish and Italian communities.
Shakira wrote her first poem, entitled "La Rosa De Cristal", when she was only four years old. After receiving a typewriter as a gift, she began to write poems constantly. Her poems eventually evolved into songs. At the age of eight, after an older brother was killed in a motorcycle accident, Shakira became inspired to write her first song, which is entitled "Tus Gafas Oscuras" and documents her father's grief.