IMAN – Somalia’s modelling icon

Iman, the positive face of Somalia in the fashion world

Twenty years ago, it was a country where children could smile and play all the way to school. One could walk without looking over the shoulders. The tunes of melodious music filled the air and everything was normal for the average human to relish. 20 years on, the picture has changed. Somalia is now the world’s dangerous place to live.
The gloomy chapter turned on the 26th January 1991, when Somalia’s last President Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted. Since then the country has been reduced to a battle zone with its image overshadowed by war and conflict.

The sounds of guns and grenades have replaced the rhythm of soul searching music. Three square meals a day are no longer served children. Women and children are living in constant trepidation and shame. It is no longer safe to walk in the night.

Markets have turned into graveyards where suicide bombings are rampant. The Horn of Africa has lost a lot of its brilliant human resources to the West as people flee the conflict-prone country to safe havens and to fine bread and butter.

Besides the gloomy picture back home, the beleaguered eastern African country can boast of successful icons in different spheres of society who are touching lives in different parts of the world.

Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid simply known as Iman is a Somalian supermodel based in the United States. She has received several honours for her numerous philanthropic works. She together with Keep a Child Alive Foundation has saved several lives and helped with charitable work related to HIV/AIDS and youth development.

She was recently honoured at the 4th annual BET honors for her work in philanthropy.

Iman grew up in the Somali capital Mogadishu. She acquired her high school education in the northern African country of Egypt and later sojourned to Kenya bordering Somalia in the south-west to study political science at the Nairobi University. She is married to British rock icon David Bowie and has a daughter Zulekha from her first marriage.

The 55-year-old brown eyed model can communicate fluently in five languages – Somali, Arabic, Italian, French and English. She stepped into modelling way back in university in 1975 when she was discovered by American photographer Peter Beard and was moved to the US to focus on her new found passion. That has turned her life around today.

Iman has featured on top magazine covers like Vogue, Mimi Magazine, Newsweek, Essence, Flaire and Ebony. The daughter of a former Somali diplomat to Saudi Arabia has established her own firm – Iman Cosmetics – which is $25-million-a-year business.

Versatile Iman is also an actress and has featured in over 15 movies including ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Out of Africa’. She completed her first book – I AM IMAN – in 2001.

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February 2011

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