Agbani Darego


The World at Your Feet

'I Have Made History'

Eighteen year-old Nigerian girl becomes first black African to win the Miss World Beauty Crown

By Bideh Williams

Ever since Oluchi Onwuagba made head-lines with M-Net’s Face-of-Africa, beauty pageants have never been the same again, at least in Nigeria . A new sense of confidence emerged to replace timidity and the dark skin found prominence in beauty circles. Oluchi’s innocent face and inexperience in the world of glamour was profound even on cynics who see beauty pageant as morally bankrupt. She has since proved herself not only as a good ambassador but also as a role model.

Yet if the success story of Oluchi was phenomenal that of 18 years old Agbani Darego, a computer science undergraduate of the University of Port Harcourt , was superlative. When Julia Morley, President of the beauty pageant announced Darego as the newly-crowned “Miss World 2001” at the capacity filled South Africa luxury casino resort of Sun City , Johannesburg , the applause was deafening. She beat 92 other contestants. “I am so happy. It’s a wonderful feeling and it’s indescribable ..… I have made history .. Black is beautiful,” she said.

Darego is the current holder of the title of the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria . At the last Miss Universe contest in Puerto Rico early this year, Darego came close to winning the crown. She lost but she had won the hearts of the Puerto Ricans and other watchers of the annual beauty contest.

American billionaire, Donald Trump 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 in America .

Super model, Naomi Campbell’s invitation of Darego to be part of her charity fashion show organised in Barcelona , Spain served as a booster.

Quite ambitious for her age, 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 that chance meeting would make her dream come true. Today, in addition to the $100,000 prize money and gifts worth about $150,000, Darego also has the chance to travel round the world. It also offers her wonderful opportunities to prospect for multi-million dollar worth of modelling contracts.

Raised from a humble background, Darego is the sixth in a family of eight, with strong Christian upbringing. She said that fame and fortune have made her “a much stronger person inside than my femininity depicts. I have decided to carry out a pet project on child abuse and trafficking. That is what I have decided to do, though, I had initially thought of doing something on women trafficking. But I later cha0nged my mind, because I believe that child abuse is the root of all these problems that later manifest in life,” she said.

She had promised to continue her education wherever her modelling career takes her to. Darego, undeniably had made history as the first black African to win the coveted crown since the annual event was established 51 years ago. “I know back home they were all watching out for me and I am happy I made them proud,” she said.

Additional Report by Betty Onuh

Newswatch Volume 34 No 22, December 3, 2001

Miss Agbani Darego wins Miss World beauty pageant
STEVEN SWINDELLS, Sun City, South Africa (Reuters) - Nigerian Agbani Darego was crowned Miss World on Friday, the first black African woman to take the title. The pageant, hosted by U.S. TV chat show presenter Jerry Springer, was beamed to a projected global television audience of 1.2 billion people. more >>

Darego gets heroic welcome, holds N. Assembly spell-bound

STAFF, (Guardian) - In an ebullient mood and with a fatherly affection, Obasanjo told Agbani: "My dear own daughter, we are all delighted and very happy that you brought honour, dignity and respectability to our country". He said Agbani's victory had further improved the image of the country in the outside world. more >>

My dear Miss World!
TONYE DAVID-WEST, Jr., Ph.D, USA (Nigeriaworld) - Agbani, you have made all Nigerians proud, the Kalabaris, in particular. We feel like we can walk on water. You have lifted us above all others. At last, we can smile again as we rule the world with you. more >>