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AWENG: ABOUT ME FIRST

F e m a l e  C o n v e r s a t i o n 

Aweng in conversation with Henrietta Eyiwaa Agyekumhene over at About Me First...

Hello Aweng, how are you doing? 

Hello, I’m actually feeling really good today; it’s one of those days where things are going my way, almost impossible to get me down! 

What is the story behind your name, does it have a meaning?

The story behind my name is quite a lengthy one. My name means COW, like the animal, but it holds a great meaning in my culture, as cows are highly favourited and respected animals. 

Has 2017 been good to you so far?

2017, in simple has been one interesting year, I’ve gained losses and wins, but above all I’ve grown as a person; career wise, thinking wise and even when and when not to debate my perception of society-wise. The year politically has been a mess, so it’s been interesting for me as someone that is also studying politics. To almost mould my mind into understanding how far the political situation may fall, and how far will my career continue to rise. 

What has been your favourite moment to date?

My favourite moment to date in general would have to be when I got an offer from one of the best universities in Australia, before even taking my finals. Within my modelling career, my favourite moment is when I got an email from my agent that I was going to shoot Burberry x IB kamara, I cried and screamed. 

I assume you reside in the UK, can you share how you stay connected to your heritage?

Actually, I reside in Australia, but Living in a western world in general, kinda has created a barrier for most ethnic children to keep in touch and connected with their heritage. With me, I had parents and grandparents that reinforced the notion that one cannot simply forget their roots. 

How has your heritage defined you?

Being south Sudanese, and being someone that has a bloodline from one of the most powerful empires during ancient times, my heritage has defined me with the emphasis on my strong stance for feminism, for independence, and in the aspect of always being open minded. 

What does it mean to you to be African in today's world? 

To be African in today’s world, is to be someone that knows their heritage and their roots before stepping outside. To be Africans in this century and this era is to be someone who knows themselves, as history is being re-written, the great tales that our grandparents would tell us as children, are now being twisted. To be African in this world, is to be someone that’s willing to stand by their heritage, no matter what occurs. 

Tell us something your mother or father taught you as a child which has stuck with you into adulthood?

My father was a soldier, he was a very philosophical man that believed in the power of one doing it for the nation, as a child he taught me that no matter what I did in this world, I would have to remember that it’s not only for me. If I wanted to change the village, I had to go out and change it. My mother is a women that is probably one of the most humbled humans I have ever met, she has taught me the importance of remembering where you come from; and was the parent who gave me tough love. 

Growing up as a black female, can you tell us about the adversities you faced and how you chose to deal with them?

Growing up in Australia, where it was very rare to be an intelligent African women in the town that I grew up in, I had to always remind myself that I worked and deserved all the opportunities that I did get. Honestly, the only way I coped most of the time is by constantly reminding myself this on a daily basis.

As women it is imperative that we own our body, how have you managed to stay in control of loving yourself in a world that is forever dictating what the ideal beauty is?

I was blessed enough to have an upbringing that consisted of me being taught the importance of self –love. I give myself daily reminders that I am enough, enough with my scars, enough with my body figure, enough with my kinky hair, enough with my loud voice. I feel like having an upbringing that demanded me to control my thoughts on so many other aspects, it became second nature when adapting into society, and attempting to depict my thoughts on my body. 

If you could talk to your younger self what advice would you give her?

If I could go back and talk to my younger self, I would tell her to ease with the pressure. I was my biggest critic as a child, I never wanted to make a mistake, which led me to be ahead of my age group, and I never gave myself the time and place to be a ‘normal’ child, if that’s how one would put it. 

What is your favourite body part and why?

My favourite body part would have to be my face, I feel like with my entire face there is so much to see. From the scars, to my coloured eyes, to my cheekbones, to my little nose, to my lips. I just love how it all comes together. 

What do you love most about being a woman of colour?

What I love most about being a women of colour, is the history that comes with it. It empowers me to do better, better than my mother, better than my grandma, better than my ancestors. 

Can you share your interpretation of Black Girl Magic?

My interpretation of black girl magic, is that we’ve always had the magic in us, but since we as the “black girls” of society face both racism and patristical control (that’s how the magic in us is almost shut down), the reminder to the younger generation is significant as we tend to forget our worth, with all the noise of societies separation game. 

Do you think women of colour are objectified in today's society and if so, what changes can we implement to prevent this from happening?

I think women in society as a whole group have faced objectivism as an entire sector, although women of colour have faced a different type of objectivism. I believe with the world of hip hop, in which most of the lyrics go along the lines “big A**”, society tends to turn to us black women and give us a look, like “That’s you “, to stop objectivism as a whole; that’s when all women need to come hand in hand, and stand against the source that is allowing this to be normalised, per se. 

How do you choose to present yourself to the world? What is your statement? 

I don’t really wake up and think “what does the world think of this and that, what if I do that”, I am a women that knows that she can do whatever the next person can do, or the person before me. My presentation to the world is simple. Watch me change you. My statement to the world is, I will do the humanitarian part, the political part, the art part, and still go home a powerful women.

What are your aspirations in life?

I am a big dreamer, I have many aspirations. One day I want to build international hotels for the homeless, I want to be an important figure in the South Sudanese parliament, I want to be an iconic model. The list goes on really, but I am someone that never wants to stop dreaming and chasing.

Who inspires you and why?

The person that inspires me the most would have to be my grandfather. My grandfather is a pastor that has worked his whole life to make sure that his grandchildren have a different, and more of an open upbringing to how he lived, and how his children lived. 

List 3 things you can't live without?

My family. Education. My voice. 

What song do you have on heavy rotation?

The one song that is on heavy rotation for me, would have to be “truth hurts” by LIZZO, it’s such a feminist song. 

Can you share something we don’t’ know about Ms Aweng?

One misconception people have about me is that I am apparently an only child. Which is ironic, and funny as I am the eldest of twelve children. 

Lastly do Aliens exist? 

If humans exist, aliens exist. Mermaids exist. The world is such a big place, it’s really selfish for one to believe that humans are the only ones here.

 

Follow Aweng on Instagram: @awengofficial