African fashion is increasingly becoming recognised worldwide because of new talented African designers whose bold designs “really embody the strength of the true African women and show everyone what we are about,” says Menaye Donkor Muntari.
The amazingly beautiful and charming model and actress, was the Africa Fashion Week London (AFWL) 2012 Ambassador. The two-day fashion show which took place at the London Spitalfields Market on 3rd and 4th August, celebrated the work of African and African inspired designers in the UK.
Ms. Donkor Muntari is also a philanthropist who has been an advocate for education and HIV/AIDS awareness since her time as Miss Universe Ghana 2004.
Her Menaye International School in Ghana, provides free education to over 150 primary school students. Along with her husband AC Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari, they are in the forefront of supporting and funding education, arts and sports programmes in their native Ghana and the UK.
Ms. Donkor Muntari, who has just been appointed the face of Ghanaian print company Printex, is a firm supporter of African fashion. She is keen to make the dreams of young fashion designers from Africa come true and to promote their designs internationally.
Here’s an exclusive interview she granted The AfroNews.
Ms. Donkor Muntari, you were the Africa Fashion Week London 2012 Ambassador. Why did you accept this role?
I was honoured to be chosen to be the ambassador for Africa Fashion Week London this year because I think it’s a great way to show off the talents of our continent to the rest of the world. African fashion is so bright and colourful, it is something I have always supported and tried to promote. As the new face of Ghanaian fabric house Printex, I know only too well how important these opportunities can be for designers so I think it’s a great cause.
African fashion is of late getting recognised at international level. Why do you think this is happening?
I think African fashion is getting more recognition across the world because we have some really great new talent entering the industry with bold designs which really embody the strength of the true African women and show everyone what we are about.
You love African fashion. What do you like most about Ghanaian fashion and what makes it so unique?
It’s the bold prints and summery colours that are so popular with African designers that I just love. I like fashion that’s a bit different and that you won’t often see others wearing. I wear a lot of clothes by local designers such as K’naf Couture and Manise. I like to jazz it up with internationally renowned designs and African creations. You will most likely see me in my favourite designer Dolce and Gabbana number and accessorize it with a statement jewellery or unique bags.
As a model and businesswoman, have you ever thought of coming up with your own fashion label?
I have thought about it many times as I have a real passion for fashion, but currently I am pursuing my other passions like my charity work, property development and I am also in the process of launching an acting career which is something I have always wanted to do.
You have been appointed the face of Ghanaian print company Printex. Please share with us briefly the type of products the company produces.
I started working with Printex in June when they launched two new amazing fabric ranges, Arete and Xclusive – I really do love them both for many reasons. Printex always offers great colours and a blend which a lot of women can relate to as the colourful prints make you feel good when you wear them. I grew up knowing Printex. My grandma wore Printex and my mum still wears Printex, and it is a fabric with class. It’s an exciting fashion brand to represent as they really understand the African woman.
I’ve learnt that you’ll have a key role in the Ghana Fashion and Design Week as well as the Ghana Fashion festival. When and where will it take place? What exact role will you play?
The Ghana Fashion and Design Week is later this year in Accra from 5th to 7th October. It will bring together creatively talented fashion and accessories designers in Ghana, to showcase their collections to local and international retail buyers, Africa’s neo-fashion consumers, influential press, media, and fashion savvy celebrities. My exact role will be revealed a bit closer to the time but I will attend as the face of Printex to promote the brand as well as support young and up and coming designers and help them break into the industry and create a stir!
What are the challenges of working in the fashion world?
It’s a tough world to break into because there are so many talented people out there who want a piece of the industry. You just have to know where you want to fit into it and be really focussed. Do you want to be a designer, photographer, model, stylist or even make the clothes or accessories?
Please share with our readers some fashion tips.
Be brave and be bold. Use your fashion choices to express yourself and never forget that a pair of good heels can complete an outfit and lift your mood. The higher the heels the more confident the woman!
Many young African girls aspire to become models. What’s your advice to them?
Make sure you know where you want to go and who you want to be as a person. Don’t forget who you are and be loyal to yourself. Know your look and use it to your advantage. Also keep your body fit and healthy by working out and getting enough sleep, because shows and shoots can be very long hours and quite physically demanding. Prepare for knockbacks and criticism, and grow a thick skin. Don’t take it personally because its only part of the industry so just try to remain positive.
How’s the Menaye International School in Ghana doing?
The Menaye International School is doing well and so far we have been able to give around 500 kids a quality education which they would not have otherwise had access to. I love going home to see all the kids with their big smiles looking so smart in their school uniforms we funded.
Do you have any plans of expanding the school or establishing similar schools in other parts of Ghana?
We are currently doing a total refurb of the school to spruce it all up and at the end of last year we opened up a brand new ICT suite and library so the kids have all the learning resources they could want! We are also currently raising funds for a school bus which will transport the kids to and from school so they don’t have to make the (sometimes very long) walk to get the education they deserve.
Ms. Donkor Muntari, how do you spend your free time?
Sleep, Sleep, Sleep! I love to relax and get a good amount of sleep because I’m constantly on the move working long hours. I do try to go to the gym as much as possible to keep myself healthy and in shape. Most of all I love being with my family back in Ghana and looking after my nieces and nephews, as well as spending quality time with my mum who is my best friend. It’s always a party back at our family home in Ghana with lots of jokes and laughter….and not to forget my mum’s cooking!
Your husband AC Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari, is one of the most famous African players in Europe. How does it feel to be a wife to such a person?
To me he’s just my hubby Sulley who I love to cook for and spend time with. To be honest, it’s just like being married to any other type of man. When Sulley is at home he’s not Sulley the footballer, he’s Sulley the normal guy, and when we hang out we just do every day normal things. We both have very busy lives, so when we are together we like to just relax and hang out. It’s very normal!!!
By Stephen Ogongo Ongong’a