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Agbani Darego

Posted by Newswatch Magazine on 2005/09/01 | Views: 4887 |

Agbani Darego


Her rise to fame was phenomenal. At the age of 18 in 2001, the young lady who possesses a rare combination of beauty and brain brought honour to Nigeria, nay Africa. She proved to the world that black is beautiful. Agbani Darego, the first black African to win the Miss World Beauty Crown is much more than a glamour queen.

Her rise to fame was phenomenal. At the age of 18 in 2001, the young lady who possesses a rare combination of beauty and brain brought honour to Nigeria, nay Africa. She proved to the world that black is beautiful. Agbani Darego, the first black African to win the Miss World Beauty Crown is much more than a glamour queen.

Since November 17, 2001 when Darego beat 92 other contestants to win the beauty pageant in South Africa's Sun City, Johannesburg, she has remained not only a good ambassador but a role model. Her rise to fame, in the glamorous world of beauty queens began early in that year when as a computer science undergraduate of the University of Port Harcourt, she emerged as most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria. At the Miss Universe contest held in Puerto Rico, in the same year, Darego came close to winning the crown. She lost but won the hearts of the Puerto Ricans and other watchers of the annual beauty contest.

Donald Trump, American billionaire not only supported Darego, but invited her to New York to negotiate a modelling deal with his Trump Management Incorporated to link her with top range modelling agencies. Super model, Naomi Campbell's invitation of Darego to be part of her charity fashion show organised in Barcelona, Spain served as a booster.

Ambitious and intelligent, Darego had always wanted to be a model. And when sometime in her career, she met with Joan Ibuzor, pageant manager of the MBGN, contest, little did she know that the chance meeting would make her dream come true. Based on the exposure she received from experts in the industry, it was not surprising that she made history at the 51st edition of the annual contest and brought prominence to the dark skin in beauty circles.

Humble and down-to-earth, Darego had during her reign invested part of the $100,000 prize money in her pet project of child abuse and trafficking. Although the project did not make as much impact as people expected, particularly in Nigeria, the spirit behind it shows that she is caring. She however, touched the lives of many children worldwide.

Besides, throughout her reign, she was a worthy ambassador of Nigeria as she instantly became the nation's jewel of inestimable value globally. Indeed, it was due to her charm, charisma and exemplary conduct as a beauty queen that informed the decision of the organisers of the contest to hold the 2002 edition in Nigeria. The reason why the proposed hosting of the contest in Nigeria was aborted is now history. The fact, however, remains that ever since Darego won the crown, the perception of beauty contest as morally bankrupt by many Nigerians has changed. She has become a role model to most girls in the country and many enlightened Nigerians are very proud of her.

Today, Darego is a highly sought-after international model and a spokesperson of L'Oreal, the renowned French cosmetic house. She has been named the face of L'Oreal. Her face now appears on several billboards around the world thereby promoting the virtues of the African woman and her beauty.

Despite her professional commitments as an international model, Darego still finds time to care for the sick, poor, and down-trodden in the society. Recently, she visited Ethiopia where she took adequate care of girls who were suffering from vesco virgina festula, VVF, disease. Unmindful of her status as an international figure, Darego freely interacted with the young Ethiopian girls infected with this disease, sympathised with them and contributed her quota towards ameliorating their problem. She also advised the girls to avoid early marriage so as not to be exposed to such a harrowing experience in life. She has also been deeply involved in other forms of charitable work, especially for women. She has been of immense support for abused women and victims of the dreaded breast cancer disease which afflicts many women today. Darego also has a soft spot for children. "Being able to help children made a huge difference to me, and having the ability to touch other people's lives, made me a better person," she said.

As a celebrity, Darego who presently lives in New York, United States travels regularly to various parts of the world where she attends public functions. However, at her leisure, she enjoys taking long walks, and reading.

Born in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, 22 years ago, Darego was raised from a humble background. She is the sixth in a family of eight, with strong Christian upbringing. She said that her fame and fortune have made her a much stronger person than her femininity depicts. A young lady who was destined for greatness, she was determined to excel in life despite losing her mother when she was just 12 years old. She said that the death of her mother was the worst thing that ever happened to her in life. She said: "I felt lost. I wondered who was going to care for me after that... To this day, I feel the loss of my mum. I was very sad when I won Miss World without her by my side to witness it. I desperately wished she could have been there to share my joy."

At 22, is this elegant young Nigerian lady thinking of getting married soon? Her response: "Settling down with a husband isn't something one can plan until the circumstances are right, but I do look forward to that day, whenever it happens."

She intends to return to Nigeria in the near future to impact positively on many of the younger girls to whom, she has become a role model. Surely, Darego has made her mark in beauty circles and based on her humane nature, charisma and intelligence, she will continue to rise from grace to grace as an international model.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.