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Thando Hopa Makes History as the First Woman with Albinism on a Vogue Cover

The South African model, lawyer and activist graced the cover of Vogue Portugal.

Vogue magazine dubbed its April issue "Africa Motherland". It is supposed to be an ode of sorts to the African continent which is often termed the "cradle of humanity" and regarded as the place from which all human beings originated. What better way to honor the continent than to make history by having South African model, lawyer and activist, Thando Hopa, on the cover of the Portuguese edition? Hopa is the first woman living with albinism to ever grace the cover of the magazine.


People living with albinism still face tremendous stigmatization, persecution and even murder in many African countries including South Africa. What is a condition that is literally nothing more than a lack of pigmentation, has for the longest time been shrouded in dangerous superstition which often places those living with albinism in harm's way.

Speaking about her Vogue cover feature, Hopa wrote on Instagram:

"I once said to a close friend that it would really be lovely to see a woman with albinism on a Vogue Cover, I would not have imagined that that woman would be me. "We are the ones we have been waiting for." I'm emotional, because I see progress and get to form part of a progressive story and narrative."

Representation matters. It's an important way to put an end to the "othering" of people living with albinism. What Vogue has done is not just historical but progressive and given the magnitude of the publication, has played a major role in highlighting how people living with albinism are exactly that―people.

Since Vogue Portugal's April issue has two covers, the stunning British-Sudanese model, Alek Wek, graces the second cover.

READ: Lazarus Is the Malawi Street Musician Fighting Against the Persecution of People With Albinism

Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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Adekunle Gold Is Living His Best Life

We speak to the Nigerian star about how marriage and fatherhood have led him to find both newfound happiness and newfound freedom as an artist.