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Iman; Ageless Supermodel, Entrepreneur Extraordinaire and Philanthropist


This pretty face has graced several billboards, magazines and countless products. Iman Mohammed Abdulmajid, the model par excellence is unarguably talented and graciously endowed. This supermodel has made an indelible mark in the fashion world and beyond.

Born July 5th, 1955 to Marian and Mohammed Abdulmajid in Mogadishu, Somalia, Iman or Faith- as I prefer to call her (never mind, they both mean the same thing) – attended High School in Egypt and later moved to Kenya where she studied Political Science at the University of Nairobi. Although basking in the glory of her blooming career, she still remembers the days of little beginning.


Iman recalls walking on a street in Kenya as a 20-year old student when she was spotted by Peter Beard, a celebrity photographer who succeeded in taking a few pictures of her, after offering to pay her tuition. This, my friends was where it all began; in a rather short while, pictures of Iman took over the media in 1975. The sudden turn of events in the life of this student changed everything; there was suddenly an unbridgeable gap between the once 20 year old student and the supermodel. A year later, she was on her way to the United States on a date with destiny.

Clear exotic accent, long neck, slender figure, copper-toned skin; these and maybe a few others, were the features that partnered with destiny and skyrocketed this blazing beauty to the peak of international modelling, defying the barrier that was known to stand against black women seeking the same career. Iman soon became the name on the lips of the most influential designers, one of which was the French couturier Yves Saint Laurent, who created an entire collection for her called “African Queen”. She also worked with many notable photographers, including Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and Annie Leibovitz.

Iman 1

Almost 20 years down the line, Iman started her own cosmetic line in 1994, focusing on rare shades of makeup particularly for the ethnic skin. Just like her modelling career, Iman’s cosmetic line took off and became every woman’s love. She also became the commercial face of her company. Few years later, in 2010 precisely, the line was reportedly worth $25 million!!!

Next in her line up of achievements, this clearly ambitious woman started a clothing line, Global Chic, for the Home Shopping Network. Soon the label extended to include very affordable jewelleries and handbags. Today, her Global Chic collection is one of four best-selling items among more than 200 fashion and jewellery brands on HSN.

Iman 6

In addition to running her global beauty company, Iman also got actively involved in a number of charitable endeavours. She is currently a spokesperson for the Keep a Child Alive Program, and works closely with the Children’s Defense Fund. She also serves as an Ambassador for Save the Children, and has been active in raising awareness of their relief services in the greater East Africa region. Additionally, Iman works with the Enough Project to end the global trade in conflict minerals, having played a key part in the public campaign against blood diamonds through the termination of her contract with the diamond conglomerate De Beers over a conflict of ethics. She also made a documentary, ‘Somalia Diary’ that brought awareness to the country of her birth which was war-torn.

Iman 3

This supermodel and first class business expert has also featured in several shows and films; she first featured in the 1979 British film, The Human Factor, and appeared in the 1985 Oscar-winning film, Out of Africa alongside Robert Redford and Meryl Streep. She then acted Nina Beka in the 1987 thriller, No Way Out with Kevin Costner, and later played a shape shifting alien named Martia in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country in 1991.

Iman has garnered many awards in the course of her progressive career. One of which was the Fashion Icon lifetime achievement award in 2010  from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), a special prize reserved for “an individual whose signature style has had a profound influence on fashion”. At the award ceremony, Iman thanked her parents, “for giving me a neck longer than any other girl on any go-see anywhere in the world”. I think she also has something else to be thankful for; her name of course; the faith that gave her the drive to pursue her purpose.

Lovelyn Okafor
Lovelyn Okafor
Lovelyn Okafor is a Journalist/Writer, Poet, Lawyer and God-Lover. She enjoys a good read and sees everyday as an opportunity to live and enjoy her calling whilst working towards perfecting it. She believes that someday soon, Africa will reach her full potential as the light-bearer of the world. You can find her on Twitter: @lovelyn_o

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  1. Wow..
    Very Lovely and interesting post.Every celebrity does not have the heart to help and support helpless people. It is nice to see celebrities contributing to the upliftment of such section of helpless people. It surely makes their living standard better. Truly inspiring story Iman. Keep posting and sharing. 🙂

    Evelyn M. Speaks

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