Being a model in a continent that has made bold strides in the fashion industry, but is still considerably struggling to establish its place in the global sphere is hard. Being able to break through the colour barriers of the international modeling industry is even harder. These ten models, in no particular order, have made great inroads in a largely westernised and unforgiving modeling industry, and we laud them for it.
Herieth Paul, Tanzania
She was listed as Tom Ford’s favourite model and has been the face of many a campaign – Calvin Klein, Maybelline and has walked just as many top notch shows. Herieth is a Victoria Secret model. She is simply one of the finest Africa exports to the international modeling world.
Flaviana Matata, Tanzania
Herrieth’s compatriot, Flaviana started out as a beauty queen, featuring in her country’s Miss World and Miss Universe in the same year. Since then, Miss Matata has been on the cover of many magazines (Dazed & confused, Glass Magazine and L’Official), won Arise Magazine Model of the Year Award in 2011 and has been signed by Wilhelmina Modelling Agency in New York.
Ajuma Nasenyana, Kenya
But who doesn’t know the story of the incredibly tall and graceful, Ajuma Nasenyana? Ajuma was discovered back in 2003 during a Miss Tourism audition. She went on to participate in Ford’s Supermodel of the Year which she came in fifth, the rest is history filled with big names like Victoria Secrets, Lacoste. An anti-skin lightening activist, Ajuma has also walked during the New York Fashion Week.
Maria Borges, Angola
Born in the then war-torn Angola, Maria is currently one of the most accomplished black models. The very first time the afro made a debut on the Victoria Secret Fashion Show, it was on Maria Borges head, in 2015. Just at 24, Maria is the face of L’oreal.
Nykhor Paul, Sudan
28 year-old Nykhor has a story similar to Maria Borges, she too fled Sudan for the United States at the height of the civil war in the former country. Discovered at just 15, Paul has modeled for Louis Vuitton and Vivienne Westwood among other top fashion houses. She has been very outspoken about the skin colour issues in the industry, at one point leaving the industry in protest. She would later come back, preferring to fight the battle from within.
Nicole Atieno, Kenya
At only 19, Nicole Atieno is making big time achievements in the international modeling industry. Based in Germany, Miss Atieno has already worked with Gucci and Prada, and appeared in the American Vogue models to watch list 2016. We do have our eyes on her.
Aamito Stacie Lagum,Uganda
Aamito opened the Balenciaga show in Paris, becoming one of the very few black models to ever do so. Opening a show is not something that comes easy in the modelling world. She has also worked with big names such as Hermes, Lacoste, Marc and Bottega Veneta. She has also appeared in Teen Vogue, Vogue and Vanity Fair. All this she did against a background of hardships in Uganda and Kenyan designer Adele Dejak is one of the people who took her to her first photoshoot.
Ajak Deng, Sudan
Alek sought refuge in Britain after the civil war broke out in her home country, South Sudan. She enrolled in London College where she studied fashion. Since then, she has worked with big names such as Issey Miyake, Moschino, Victoria’s Secret, Clinique, Shiatzy Chen, John Galliano, Chanel, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Jasper Conran, xander McQueen, Givenchy, Armani, Fendi and Christian Dior.
Fatuma left Somalia for the US after losing her two sisters in the civil war. She has since worked with Ralph Lauren and walked for Dior.
Agbani Darego, Nigeria
Agbani was Miss World 2001. She went from beauty queen to one of the most sought high fashion model so fast. She has worked with brands such as Avon, Christian Dior, Sephora, Target. She has also been on the cover of magazines such as Elle, Marie Claire, Allure, Trace, Stitch, Cosmopolitan, Essence magazines, Complete Fashion, Mania, ThisDay, Style, Genevieve, True Love, and TW Magazine. She is also a renowned judge for many beauty pageants including Miss World 2014.