Crediting the late South African leader Nelson Mandela for her love of the continent, Naomi Campbell shared the reasons why she holds Africa close to her heart. In a cover story interview with i-D, the supermodel and philanthropist said her dream is to travel to all 54 countries (having traveled to Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Ghana, Rwanda) and encouraged others to do the same.
“I realised it’s been overlooked and ignored on so many levels. That has to change. The narrative has to change. People’s perceptions have to change. That’s what my work is about,” Campbell said. “And I mean that across the board—fashion, music, tech, art, sports…I just feel like when I’m in Nigeria there’s so much creativity coming out of there. In Senegal, there is so much energy in terms of sports. I want the world to know. I don’t want it to be looked at as the ‘Third World.’ I want it to be given the same opportunities in education and skills as anywhere else in the world.”
When asked to list her favorite African artists, the 49-year-old businesswoman named a few Afrobeats game-changers like WizKid, Davido, and Fela Kuti who Campbell said, “What he stood for was so ahead of his time. I’ve been blessed to learn about the African continent through the late South African president Nelson Mandela, who I called grandad. That’s who brought Africa to my heart in the 90s. It remains in my heart.”
In a previous interview with Forbes Africa during its “Leading Women Summit,” Campbell discussed plans to bring fashion brands to the continent and explore a new market of consumerism and access.
“My plans are to start serving my industry, brands and the continent,” she said. “And seeing that we are such big consumers [of brands] in the rest of the world, yet we don’t have it ourselves on the continent…” she said. “And it’s what works in all businesses, like fashion, architecture and technology. We are big influencers so why don’t we have these things? It’s mind-blowing, so now is the time.”