Why you should care –
Because you don’t know what it means to hustle … until you meet a Nigerian-American .
At an Onyejekwe family get-together, you can’t throw a stone without hitting someone with a master’s degree. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, professors — every family member is highly educated and professionally successful, and many have a lucrative side gig to boot. Parents and grandparents share stories of whose kid just won an academic honor, achieved an athletic title or performed in the school play. Aunts, uncles and cousins celebrate one another’s job promotions or the new nonprofit one of them just started. To the Ohio-based Onyejekwes, this level of achievement is normal. They’re Nigerian-American — it’s just what they do. Today, 29 percent of Nigerian-Americans over the age of 25 hold a graduate degree, compared to 11 percent of the overall U.S. population, according to the Migrations Policy Institute. Among Nigerian-American professionals, 45 percent work in education services, the 2016 American Community Survey found, and many are professors at top universities. Nigerians are entering the medical field in the U.S. at an increased rate, leaving their home country to work in American hospitals, where they can earn more and work in better facilities. A growing number of Nigerian-Americans are becoming entrepreneurs and CEOs, building tech companies in the U.S. to help people back home.
It hasn’t been easy — the racist stereotypes are far from gone. Last year, President Donald Trump reportedly said in an Oval Office discussion that Nigerians would never go back to “their huts” once they saw America. But overt racism hasn’t stopped Nigerian-Americans from creating jobs, treating patients, teaching students and contributing to local communities in their new home, all while confidently emerging as one of the country’s most succesful immigrant communities, with a median household income of $62,351, compared to $57,617 nationally, as of 2015.
“I think Nigerian-Americans offer a unique, flashy style and flavor that people like,” says Chukwuemeka Onyejekwe, who goes by his rap name Mekka Don. He points to Nigerian cuisine like jollof rice that’s gaining popularity in the U.S. But more importantly, Mekka says, Nigerians bring a “connectivity and understanding of Africa” to the U.S. “Many [Americans] get their understanding of ’the motherland’ through our experiences and stories,” he adds.
The Nigerian-American journey is still relatively new compared with that of other major immigrant communities that grew in the U.S. in the 20th century. The Nigerian-American population stood at 376,000 in 2015, according to the Rockefeller Foundation–Aspen Institute. That was roughly the strength of the Indian-American community back in 1980, before it emerged as a leading light in fields ranging from economics to technology. But Nigerian-Americans are already beginning to make a dent in the national consciousness. In the case of forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, he’s helping fix hits to the brain. The 49-year-old Omalu was the first to discover and publish on chronic traumatic encephalopathy in American football players (Will Smith played him in the 2015 film Concussion). ImeIme A. Umana, the first Black woman elected president of the Harvard Law Review last year, is Nigerian-American. In 2016, Nigerian-born Pearlena Igbokwe became president of Universal Television, making her the first woman of African descent to head a major U.S. TV studio. And the community has expanded rapidly, up from just 25,000 people in 1980.
Traditionally, education has been at the heart of the community’s success. But success isn’t so easily defined within the culture anymore. Nigerian-Americans are beginning to make a mark in sports, entertainment and the culinary arts too — like Nigerian chef Tunde Wey in New Orleans, who recently made headlines for using food to highlight racial wealth inequality in America.
It was education that brought an early wave of Nigerians to the U.S. in the 1970s. After the war against Biafra separatists in the ’60s, the Nigerian government sponsored scholarships for students to pursue higher education abroad. English-speaking Nigerian students excelled at universities in the U.S. and U.K., often finding opportunities to continue their education or begin their professional career in their host country. That emphasis on education has since filtered through to their children’s generation.
Dr. Jacqueline Nwando Olayiwola was born in Columbus, Ohio, to such Nigerian immigrant parents. Her mother is a retired engineer, now a professor at Walden University; her father is a retired professor, now a strategist at a consulting firm focused on governance in Africa. “Education was always a major priority for my parents because it was their ticket out of Nigeria,” Olayiwola says. Her parents used their network of academics to get Olayiwola thinking about a career in medicine from a young age — by 11, she was going to summits for minorities interested in health care. Olayiwola was constantly busy as a kid doing homework and sports and participating in National Honor Society and biomedical research programs, but it was the norm, she says; her Nigerian roots meant it was expected of her.
Today, Olayiwola is a family physician, the chief clinical transformation officer of RubiconMD, a leading health tech company, associate clinical professor at University of California, San Francisco, instructor in family medicine at Columbia University, and an author. Her new book, Papaya Head, detailing her experience as a first-generation Nigerian-American, will be published later this year. Olayiwola’s siblings are equally successful – her older brother, Okey Onyejekwe, is also a physician, her younger brother, Mekka Don, is a lawyer turned rapper, and her sister, Sylvia Ify Onyejekwe, Esq, is the managing partner of her own New Jersey law firm.
But Olayiwola feels she needs to do more. She doesn’t want America’s gain to be Nigeria’s permanent loss.
Olayiwola and her brother, Okey, stay active in the Nigerian-American community. In 1998, they co-founded the Student Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas, which organizes at least two medical mission trips to Nigeria each year. Between 2000 and 2004, the siblings often flew the nearly 8,000 miles to Nigeria to perform screenings for preventable diseases. They took blood pressure, advised patients on diabetes and obesity prevention, and provided prenatal counseling in rural areas.
“I feel a tremendous sense of wanting to go back [to Nigeria] and help,” says Olayiwola.
It’s a sentiment shared by many in the Nigerian-American community. But it’s easier said than done for some of America’s most qualified professionals to leave world-class facilities and a comfortable life to return permanently to a nation that, while Africa’s largest economy, remains mired in political instability and corruption.
In the 1970s and ’80s, some foreign-educated Nigerian graduates returned home, but found political and economic instability in a postwar country. In 1966, the country’s military overthrew the regime of independent Nigeria’s first prime minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. It was the first of a series of military coups — again, later, in 1966, then in 1975, 1976, 1983, 1985 and 1993 — that were to deny the country even a semblance of democracy until 1999.
“My parents were expected to study in the U.S. or U.K. and then go back to Nigeria,” says Dr. Nnenna Kalu Makanjuola, who grew up in Nigeria and now lives in Atlanta. Her parents did return, but with few jobs available in the economic decline of the 1980s, many Nigerians did not. Within a few years of their return, Makanjuola’s parents too decided it was best to build their lives elsewhere.
Makanjuola, who has a pharmacy degree, works in public health and is the founder and editor in chief of Radiant Health Magazine, came to the U.S. when her father won a Diversity Immigrant Visa in 1995 — a program Trump wants to dismantle. Makanjuola’s father moved the family to Texas so his children could have access to better universities. Makanjuola intended to one day pursue her career in Nigeria as her parents had, but it’s too hard to leave the U.S., she says: “Many Nigerians intend to go back, but it’s impractical because there’s more opportunity here.”
As an undergraduate student in Nigeria, Jacob Olupona, now a professor of African religious traditions at Harvard Divinity School, was a well-known activist in his community. He considered a career in politics, but a mentor changed his mind. The mentor told Olupona: “Don’t go into politics because you’re too honest and don’t join the military because you’re too smart.” So Olupona headed to Boston University instead, to study the history of religions — a subject he had always found fascinating as the son of a priest. Like Olayiwola, the importance of education was instilled in him from a young age but so too was the importance of spreading knowledge. “When you educate one person, you educate the whole community,” Olupona says. That belief is what translated into his career as a teacher.
Olupona stresses that Nigerians have also achieved a lot in their country of origin. Moving to the U.S. isn’t the only route to success, he says. Still, he believes the many academic opportunities in the U.S. have benefited Nigerians. “There’s something about America and education that we need to celebrate,” he says.
Marry those American opportunities with an upbringing that emphasizes education, a drive to serve the U.S. while not forgetting their roots, and a growing penchant for success, and you have a unique cocktail that is the Nigerian-American community today.
Anyone from the Nigerian diaspora will tell you their parents gave them three career choices: doctor, lawyer or engineer. For a younger generation of Nigerian-Americans, that’s still true, but many are adding a second career, or even a third, to that trajectory.
Anie Akpe works full time as vice president of mortgages at Municipal Credit Union in New York City, but she’s also the founder of Innov8tiv magazine, African Women in Technology (an education and mentorship program) and an app called NetWorq that connects professionals. Raised in the southern port city of Calabar, she had the Nigerian hustle baked into her upbringing. “There was no such thing as ‘can’t’ in our household,” she says. Akpe’s banking career fulfilled her parent’s expectations, but she wanted to do more. Four and a half years ago, she launched Innov8tiv to highlight success stories back home in Nigeria and throughout the African continent. Through her magazine and through African Women in Technology, which offers networking events, mentorship opportunities and internships, Akpe is helping propel women into careers like hers. “Africa is male-dominated in most sectors,” she says. “If I can show young women there are ways to do things within our culture that allow them to grow, then I’ve been successful.”
Like Akpe, rapper Mekka Don took a traditional career route at first. He got a law degree from New York University and worked at a top-10 law firm, but he had always wanted to pursue music. At 25, Mekka, who is the younger brother of Jacqueline Olayiwola, and Sylvia and Okey Onyejekwe, decided to take the plunge.
Fellow attorneys ridiculed him, asking incredulously: “Who leaves a law career to become a rapper?” But his family was understanding — part of a shift in attitudes that Mekka says he increasingly sees in his parents’ generation of Nigerian-Americans. “My parents see how lucrative music can be,” he says, adding, “They also get excited when they see me on TV.”
The lawyer turned rapper has been featured on MTV and VH1, has a licensing agreement with ESPN to play his music during college football broadcasts and just released a new single, “Nip and Tuck.” He still has that law degree to fall back on and it comes in handy in his current career too. “I never need anyone to read contracts for me, so I save a ton on lawyer fees,” Mekka says.
The community’s drive to succeed sounds exhausting at times, particularly if you never feel you’ve reached the finish line. Omalu, the forensic pathologist, was recently in the news again after his independent autopsy of Sacramento youth Stephon Clark showed that the 22-year-old was repeatedly shot in the back by police officers, which conflicted with the Sacramento Police report.
But if you ask Omalu about his success, he’s quick to correct. “I’m not successful,” Omalu says, adding that he won’t consider himself so until he can “wake up one day, do absolutely nothing and there will be no consequences.” Part of Omalu’s humility is faith-based: “I was given a talent to serve,” he says. Omalu has eight degrees, has made life-changing medical discoveries and has been portrayed by a famous actor on screen, but he doesn’t revel in his accomplishments.
And what about Nigerians who come to the U.S. and don’t succeed? Wey, the activist chef, says there’s a lot of pressure to fit a certain mold when you’re Nigerian. Choosing the right career is only one part of that. “You have to be heterosexual, you have to have children, you have to have all of those degrees,” he says of the cultural expectations he was raised with. “It limits the possibilities of what Nigerians can be.”
While others agree it can be stressful at times, they say the high career bar isn’t a burden to them. “I don’t know anything else,” says Olayiwola about being raised to value education and success. Akpe feels the same. “You’re not thinking it’s hard, it’s just something you do,” she says.
Now that doctor, lawyer and engineer are no longer the only acceptable career options within the community, the path to professional achievement is rife with more possibilities than ever before. Sports, entertainment, music, the culinary arts — there are few fields Nigerian-Americans aren’t already influencing. And the negative stereotypes? Hold onto them at your own peril.
‘Black Panther’ star fronts new Reebok campaign
BLACK PANTHER and The Walking Dead star Danai Gurira joins model Gigi Hadid, singer Ariana Grande and Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot in a new campaign for sportswear bran Reebok that celebrates strong-voiced females who inspire others to act and drive change.
The campaign aims to celebrate strong female voices who inspire others to act and drive change. Game of Thrones actress Nathalie Emmanuel, Yelda Ali (founder of Camel Assembly); athletes Katrin Davidsdottir, Reese Scott and Jenny Gaither (founder and CEO of Movemeant Foundation); and Shannon Kim Wagner (founder of the Women’s Strength Coalition) also star in the campaign.
Each woman is photographed alongside quotes that project inspiring words from each star. For their respected portraits, each share their own personal story of overcoming barriers to become their best selves.
“Reebok has a long history of empowering women and supporting those who empower others,” Reebok VP marketing Melanie Boulden said in a statement. “We did this back in the 1980s, when the brand helped usher in a new fitness movement, led by women, that changed culture and made it OK for women to sweat and have muscles.
— Reebok (@Reebok) July 16, 2018
“We are still at it today, developing innovative product for women, by women, and encouraging females to experience the physical, mental and social transformation that happens when we move — the essence of our Be More Human philosophy.”
In the campaign, Reebok has also partnered with the Movement Foundation and The Women’s Strength Coalition to support women who work at the grassroots level to support organisations aimed to empower women.
Reebok will also release 10 limited-edition shirts, one for each woman featured in the campaign. From now until Dec. 31, proceeds from the shirt sales will be distributed equally among the organizations.
Consumers who want to participate in other ways can also “donate in sweat” by posting a photograph of themselves working out on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #BeMoreHuman. For each photo posted, Reebok will make a donation to the non-profits at a limit of 2,500 posts.
Koffi Olomide ‘not banned from Zambia’
Police and government authorities in Zambia have cleared Congolese rhumba star Koffi Olomide to perform in the country next weekend, contrary to media reports earlier in the week that the singer would be arrested on arrival.
It follows allegations published in the state-owned Times of Zambia newspaper that he assaulted a photojournalist in Zambia during a previous tour.
He has also been accused of sexually assaulting his dancers, kidnapping them and employing them without valid permits in France.
The article prompted the 62-year-old to hire lawyers to talk to the authorities to clear his name.
Now Zambia police spokesperson Esther Katongo says Mr Olomide is free to enter Zambia.
She says there is no international arrest warrant for him from Interpol, no criminal record in Zambia, and says “an assault case that was reported at Lusaka Division by a journalist was closed due to lack of evidence”.
The rhumba star is not new to controversy. In 2016, he was caught on camera kicking his female dancer on arrival in Kenya. He was swiftly deported.
In 2012, he was convicted in the Democratic Republic of Congo of assaulting his producer, resulting in a three-month suspended prison sentence.
The altercation with his producer was over a debt of about $3,700 (£2,800), the court heard.
In 2008, he was accused of kicking a cameraman from DR Congo’s private RTGA television station and breaking his camera at a concert in the capital, Kinshasa, following a disagreement over recording rights.
In the end, the speaker of the national assembly stepped in to resolve the dispute, brokering a reconciliation between the star and owner of the TV station.
Wakanda forever! ‘Black Panther’ spin off comic in the works written by Nigerian author Nnedi Okorafor
MARVEL are working on a spin-off comic following the success of Black Panther – and the focus will all be on fan-favourite character, Shuri.
Black Panther was listed as the 10th-highest box office earner of all time, making $1.2bn (£916m), Forbes reported in April.
According to BBC, the series will be based on T’Challa’s younger sister, Shuri, a character played by Guyanese-British actress Letitia Wright.
The new series will be written by Nigerian author Nnedi Okorafor, who penned the digital comic series Black Panther: Long Live the King for Marvel, and drawn by Leonardo Romero.
“Shuri is an African young woman of genius level intelligence who is obsessed with technology and has travelled spiritually so far into the past that she’s seen Wakanda before it was Wakanda.
“The Ancestors call her Ancient Future. And she’s super ambitious. What do I love about her? All that and more,” Okorafor is quoted as saying.
Marvel expects to release the series in October.
German woman blocked by Facebook for detailing racist abuse
A BLACK German woman has created an anti-racism blog after Facebook removed her for a revealing description of racial abuse she suffered in Austria.
According to BBC, Imoan Kinshasa says youths insulted her with the “N-word” and people stared at her when she wore a traditional dirndl dress at a wine festival near Vienna.
Facebook censored her post because she repeatedly used the offensive term which was aimed directly at her.
In her blog (in German) she posted the message from Facebook explaining that her original post had violated the social networking site’s community standards. It says the block is active for three days.
She wrote that no sooner had she arrived in Traiskirchen with some friends that a group of boys insulted her, using the N-word.
Speaking to the BBC, Kinshasa said she was aware of “everyday racism” not only in Austria, but also in Bavaria.
“Basically it’s the same, because Bavaria and Austria are very similar – there’s not a big difference when it comes to racism.”
“I want to share others’ stories – I got a tonne of stories from others about racism.”
By publicising the experiences of other racism victims, she said, “we can show that we are all human and have feelings, and it hurts”.
Kinshasa grew up in Bavaria and says she loves the dirndl. “Whatever I wear, people stare at me,” she complained.
The 25-year-old IT professional who now lives in Vienna said the level of racism is not as bad there as in small-town Austria.
Austria now has an anti-immigration government, which includes the far-right Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ). And German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, a hardliner on immigration, was previously Bavarian prime minister.
VP Prof. Osinbajo’s Sweet Message to Wife Dolapo on Her Birthday
Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo celebrated his wife Dolapo’s birthday today.
He used this sweet words on his Twitter handle to send lovely message to her.
“I found a girl, beautiful and sweet many years ago. I got to know you and you became Queen of my heart.
You are my past, my present and my future. You complete me!
You are as beautiful as the day I met you.
Happy Birthday Oludolapo, your heart is my home.”
I found a girl, beautiful and sweet many years ago. I got to know you and you became Queen of my heart.
You are my past, my present and my future. You complete me!
You are as beautiful as the day I met you.
Happy Birthday Oludolapo, your heart is my home. pic.twitter.com/SV7T1K2LBj
— Prof Yemi Osinbajo (@ProfOsinbajo) July 15, 2018
June Sarpong MBE hosts glittering celebration of women
ON THURSDAY (Jul 12), host and author of Diversify, June Sarpong MBE hosted the Rising Star 2018 winners’ celebration, amongst an audience of some of the UK’s most influential female business leaders.
Speaking about hosting the awards, Sarpong said: “2018 has been dubbed the ‘year of the women’ and has very much thrown gender and diversity into the public consciousness – the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, gender pay gap reporting, and marking 100 years of women’s suffrage.
“Despite all that has been achieved since the Suffragettes’ won the vote, more still needs to be done to reach gender parity. Awards such as these are incredibly important – and needed – to continue to raise women’s platforms and showcase how talented the female population is. I’m extremely proud to support the 2018 Rising Star Awards and look forward to meeting the amazing and inspiring women, who are flying the flag for womankind.”
On Monday 18 June, WeAreTheCity announced the winners of the 2018 Rising Star Awards. You can view the full list of winners’ here.
Now in its fourth year, the Rising Star awards were introduced to showcase the UK pipeline of female talent below management and to create female 100 role models across 20 different industries and professions.
Alongside the Rising Star categories and Rising Star Champion award, we are also pleased to announce the winners of the Company of the Year award. This award recognises the achievements of a company who can clearly demonstrate that they are actively supporting its female talent pipeline through their initiatives, training, development programmes and internal employee relations and diversity network groups.
The awards were entered by 1,250 individuals and were judged by a panel of 54 independent judges. Over 35,000 public votes were received for the 200 shortlisted nominees.
The awards were kindly sponsored by The Times & The Sunday Times and supported by 3M, Accenture, Aon, Barclays, Bloomberg, Cancer Research UK, CMI Women, Edit Development, EPAA, Jessica Huie Public Relations (JHPR), Jobbio, Kier, Lloyds Banking Group, Lloyd’s, Northern Trust, PedalSure, Reed Smith, Royal Navy, SAGE and Sodexo.
Anambra receives Miss Africa
The Governor of Anambra State Chief Willie Obiano received the Anambra born Miss Africa world Queen Uche Umeagukwu in Awka, the state capital.
The Governor who was represented by the Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs, Indigenous Artworks, Culture and Tourism Mrs Sally Mbanefo while giving a welcome address described Anambra State as a hub of tourism stating that this is why the present administration is doing everything possible to develop all its tourism centers to meet international standards.
Mrs Mbanefo said that a successful partnership with Diaspora investors will help push the industry to an international audience.
The Commissioner urged Ndi Anambra in Diaspora to partner with the state government in her drive to tap and market the tourism potentials in the state.
She emphasised that the Golden Tulip Hotel, Agulu lake which is in the final phase of furnishing and Owerre Ezukala caves and waterfalls that is now under construction to help upgrade and create easier access to tourist, are few of the projects being prioritised by the present administration to kick starts its unparallel boost of tourism industry in the state.
Queen Umeagukwu, an indigene of Uga in Aguata Local Government Area is the reigning Queen of Miss Africa world beauty peg entry based in California and a champion of the campaign to grant ‘’out of school children access to education.
Responding to the occasion, Queen Uche thanked the Anambra State government for the honour given to her stated that the youths must claim their place in moving the state forward especially in the area of marketing the state’s tourism and cultural potentials.
She further added that she has used her position as the Queen to attract a Japan based investor to the state as part of her pet project is to feed the hungry children in the state.
Also speaking, the Commissioner for Youth Empowerment and creative Economy Mr Bonaventure Enemali welcomed the Queen on behalf of all the Anambra youth, who called on the youth in the state to maximize the opportunity giving to them by the Obiano administration to accomplish their potentials.
The permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr Tony Ezenwaka giving a vote of thanks expressed joy over the Queen’s victory, stating that her victory is a representation of the aspiration of every Igboman to have freedom to exercise their right and privileges.
He further added that by her victory that she has automatically become the state Ambassador on Culture, Tourism and Diaspora.
The highpoints of the reception was the presentation of awards recognition to the Queen, for Ndi Anambra in California and the mayor of the city of Los Angeles, as well as cultural dance display by Ate.
Racist tweets surface from father of the McClure twins
THE FATHER of the McClure twins has landed himself in hot water after racist tweets have resurfaced on social media.
Justin McClure shares mixed race twin daughters with his Nigerian wife, Ami Dunn McClure, and together the couple has risen to fame by posting amusing videos of Ava and Alexa to their 998,121 subscribers on YouTube.
Justin’s tweets that were made back in 2011, have been deleted from the family Twitter page, however, the screenshots remained.
They're deleted, but I saw these online pic.twitter.com/i43r4Ge47Z
— Man of the Decade (@MissZindzi) July 8, 2018
McClure has since apologised for what was tweeted before he met his wife and blamed the remarks on his comedic career in addition to being a “womanizer” and “drunk”.
On the family channel, Justin alongside his wife and 7-month-old son said: “These tweets were jokes I did about race, I did about gender, about where I’m from in the south, that’s what I thought was funny at the time.”
McClure said the tweets were no longer a reflection of his humour recalling that he was a “very insecure person” but “years of therapy, years of sobriety” have helped change his life.
Meanwhile, wife Ami appeared to stand strongly by her man as she said: “What I dislike is people always brandishing things as racist were they bad jokes? Absolutely, but is he racist? I mean, really?”
As the pair concluded the post, Justin said: “I will not be responding to any comments or tweets but my wife will if you have something to say about it.”
Meet the Zimbabwean designer who hopes to rival Gucci
FASHION DESIGNER Yvonne Yvette wants to one day rival Gucci. She spoke to The Voice about quitting her day job to pursue her passion, Africa’s influence on her collection and why she wants to empower women through fashion…
The daughter of shopkeeper and a seamstress, some may say it’s no surprise that Yvonne Yvette became a successful fashion business owner. But despite her undeniable skills, she wasn’t initially sure that design was something she could make a living out of.
“Everything that I’m doing is self taught, I’ve never been to a fashion designing class, so I’m learning as I’m going,” she said.
The fashion designer’s passion for clothes stemmed from childhood and was clear to her loved ones later on it life too. “My partner always says to me I look good, and when he first met me he could tell I knew what to wear.
“When I was young I wanted to dress up and wanted to make sure whatever I wore would make sense. When I started it as a hobby I thought I was good at it why don’t I try to see where I am and then I just started making them and it came to me very easily. I started wearing them for myself and I got compliments from people, from my friends and family and they had make clothes for them.”
It wasn’t until Yvette began making clothes for other people that she realised she could make money from what started as a hobby. “I thought to myself I’m actually wasting time making stuff for free and I started charging and they were like you undercharge because you’re not confident.”
The accounting and information systems graduate and former banker juggled her side hustle with her full-time job but she has no complaints. “I even think that when I started I enjoyed it so much that I stopped going out, I was so excited.”
Eventually the time came when Yvette packed in her day job to pursue fashion design full-time. “I was working for someone and it’s one of those things where you’re going to work and keep doing the same things over and over again.
“Working for yourself, you have the freedom to do your own thing and I can work on a dress overnight and if I get an idea late at night I go into my work room and try and create it. I’m enjoying my work, so it doesn’t feel like I’m working.”
Yvette’s country of birth and the place where she grew up, Zimbabwe, and the country she now calls home, England, have both had a huge impact on her designs. “With my family we’ve always been a modern family…we were younger we could wear trousers, and I know some of my friends weren’t allowed.
“I think Africa is a bit behind on fashion compared to Europe, so moving from my home to here I realised there was a lot more you could do here.
“Coming here did make a big difference to my life.”
Since the birth of her eponymous company in 2014, the talented designer has received a number of awards for her work including North West UK Best Fashion Designer award and a BAWR award. She’s also been nominated for a Women4Africa award. She said the recognition “solidified” what she was doing.
Yvette’s clothes have also been worn by models and clients across the world but the reality of how well her creations have been received is still sinking in. “I still don’t believe it, I couldn’t believe that actually my work has gone to America and Australia…I’m hoping I can go even further and compete with Gucci, who knows. I don’t want to limit myself.”
Her latest work, “Kiss” ready-to-wear collection 2018, will be on sale from July and it’s a manifestation of her aim to “liberate” women through clothes. “I think in this day and age women should be allowed to decide what they want to wear and when, without being subject to cultural beliefs.
“Women face a lot of challenges because of social beliefs within our culture (African culture) whereby they can’t be themselves or wear what they want without being objectified. This collection is about encouraging women to stand for themselves, have a choice in society; about what they wear and above all self-love. I want women to feel good about themselves with this collection no matter, what size, colour and where they come from.”
Celebrities Launch PVC Citizen Movement
With barely 225 days to the 2019 general elections, some Nigerian celebrities have launched a PVC citizen movement.
The campaign which is initiated by celebrities like music mogul, don jazzy, award winning singer, Davido, rapper Falz and many others is aimed at getting Nigerian youths involved in the upcoming 2019 general elections.
Young Nigerians are to be educated on the importance of exercising their civil obligation as well as creating a new and better Nigeria.
As part of the movement, actor Alex Ekubo, Ik Ogbonna and Yomi Casual have invented a fun way to carryout the campaign as they have invited their fans out on a meet, greet and permanent voter’s card (PVC) registration spree.
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