What I learnt from Thandie: “women don’t need permission to be empowered”

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One of the most enjoyable aspects of putting together the NAW is coming up with the cover concept and the ultimate cover girl who captures the NAW ethos. Thandie Newton embodies everything we love in a new African woman. When I got a call confirming her availability to do our interview and that she had even provided time in her busy family (she is a new mum) and filming duties to give us a day for a photo-shoot at her Malibu home (Los Angeles), the 5437 miles from London to Hollywood never looked so few and that 12-hour flight was one of the few that I didn’t bemoan.

As you you can read from my  cover interview with Thandie, she did not disappoint. Her words speak to me on many levels – as a mother, professional woman and fashion lover, as well as an African woman. I hope, like me, you resonate with her views on issues affecting Africa today, more so the plight of African women who suffer from some of the worst atrocities and offshoots of conflicts in Africa.

Who wouldn’t agree with her sentiments about some African leaders when she says: “It is like a fish ruling a horse! How can they possibly understand what their people need if they have never eaten black-eyed peas from a tin bowl with your fingers!” Indeed that is how removed most African leaders are from the plight of women – especially those in places where the rape of women is used as a weapon of war.

“It is like a fish ruling a horse! How can they possibly understand what their people need if they have never eaten black-eyed peas from a tin bowl with your fingers!”

I also totally embrace her wisdom when she says: “Traditionally people wait for permission to be empowered and I think what is changing now is that women are empowering
themselves and that is really a key change… We don’t have to wait for permission.”

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On another spectrum, like me Thandie is also passionate about promoting African fashion and the creative industry on the continent. For our shoot, Thandie insisted on using only African designers and she has been a keen follower of the rising African fashion scene for a while now, and hopes Hollywood will embrace it too.  Passion for African fashion is a must-have trend! Check out our photoshoots gallery.

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reGina Jane

reGina Jane Jere is a Zambian-born London-based journalist and founding Editor of the New African Woman magazine the sister-publication of the New African magazine of which she was the Deputy Editor for over a decade. The mother of two juggles a wide-range of editorial and managerial duties, but she has particular passion on women’s health, education, rights and empowerment. She is also a former Zambian correspondent for Agence France Presse, and a former Africa Researcher at Index on Censorship. She writes extensively on a wide range of issues, from politics to women’s rights, media and free speech to beauty and fashion

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