Friday, November 24, 2006
African 2005 | Article
Alek Wek`s life story is a rollercoaster ride of heart-wrenching tragedy and unimaginable success.
Born in war-torn Sudan, she was forced to flee to the UK as a twelve-year-old refugee in the early 1990`s. She left friends and family and arrived in London`s East End with just her younger sister for comfort and support. Alek had to wait two years before her mother was allowed to enter the country, and suffered the untimely death of her much-loved further back in Sudan.
But at 18, everything changed. Talent-spotted at a street party in South London, the 5ft 11inch Alek was transformed into one of the modelling world`s stellar success stories, gracing the glossiest magazine covers and fashion capital catwalks.
She was coverted by the likes of Gucci, Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, John Galliano and Alexander McQueen for her perfect dark skin, graceful figure and captivating facial features. By the time she was 20, Alek had become a global super model. She was voted best new model at the Venus de la Mode Fashion awards, MTV model of the year, and model of the decade by I-d magazine.
With life now a million miles away from the tiny village she fled as a young teenager, Alek is committed to maintaining a connection with her past. She has returned to Sudan twice with the aim of raising awareness about the plight of those suffering in the civil war there.
Her second return visit was filmed for the BBC`s ONE Life series, which followed her remarkable journey. Accompanied by her mother who was returning to Sudan for the first time, Alek went to visit the village she grew up in, pay respects at her father`s grave and search of a long-lost and much-loved aunt.
The dangerously unstable situation in Sudan, and the confusion surrounding the fate of her aunt made this journey a difficult and moving experience, filled with hope and uncertainty.