Adesuwa Aighewi – Want To Show What Africa Is

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After reading a book a day during her college life, she now looks to religious texts for a steer on the direction she should take. “Fashion can be very frou-frou, so I’ve been on an inward journey,” she muses. The Bible, the Quran, several Buddhist works and studies exploring Pagan religions in Nigeria are all under her belt. “The foundations are all the same: Don’t be a d*ckhead. Respect your neighbours. Show empathy,” she says. “Whatever energy you give out you get back.” It’s precisely this thoughtful, direct perspective that’s quickly cementing Aighewi as a breakout model – and philanthropist-cum-filmmaker – of her generation.

Aighewi’s drive and determination stems back to her upbringing. She was not allowed to even consider pursuing modelling until she had completed her science degree, because it would have dishonoured her parents. “Instead of me being a doctor helping one person at a time, now, as the face of something, I can help thousands more,” she rationalises of her chosen career path. “I’m prepared to spend the rest of my life fighting.”


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24 hours with Adeyoncè now on 😂😂😂😂🤓

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The aim of her docuseries is to show that not only “sad stories” come out of Africa: “I want people to see the art, creativity and joy there is, and how much the world would benefit from Africa’s resources.” It is not, she maintains, anything to do with raising her personal profile. “I hate the term ‘giving back’ because it implies that you’re better than what you’re giving. It’s our moral obligation, our duty to reach out and help, just like you would pick up a child who has fallen down.”

Growing up, “everything was a lecture”, says self-confessed super-nerd Adesuwa Aighewi of being raised by environmental scientist parents in Nigeria and America. After studying chemistry at the University of Maryland, and internships at NASA (“long story short: it was really, really scary”) and the Institute for Human Biology, Aighewi, now 30, gave in to the persistent requests of model agents, figuring that one shoot equated to an entire summer’s wages.


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“The day I embraced my looks, my whole aura changed. You can tell in the photos,” she tells Vogue about her journey from the “super shy, skinny girl with big hair” on set to the one dishing out skincare tips (kaffir lime blended with witch hazel as a toner) and food haunts in her neighbourhood Harlem (Accra and Red Rooster, FYI).

Phase one on her path to becoming Africa’s new PR is to build outdoor cinemas in population-rich areas of the continent. Between the Hollywood films on the programme, educational shorts and how-to videos on topics ranging from business to health will give viewers access to the YouTube tutorials that Western culture takes for granted. “I’m not an expert, I’m just freeballing,” she admits. “But now I’m reaching new heights as a model, I can make a bigger impact.”

Next on the agenda, she hopes, is a beauty contract – not for the kudos, but to fund her mission to make a TV series about Africa. “I want to show what Africa is from an African’s point of view, and the quickest way to educate people is through pop culture.”