Supermodel Nykhor Paul was discovered as a model in the United States when she was 14 years old and she has built a comfortable career in the industry.
She is, however, South Sudanese by birth and recently she is showing that she is South Sudanese at heart too.
Not ignorant of the things going on in her country, Nykhor Paul will mostly be seen on her Instagram account rocking one patriotic T-shirt over and over. Rather than showing off all the clothes she must have access to, she chooses a T-shirt which has South Sudan boldly emblazoned on it.
She told the BBC the reason behind this decision, which centers around using fame to bring to people’s consciousness the conflict in South Sudan. She said;
“South Sudan stories do not trend. Hashtags like #PrayForSouthSudan don’t tend to go viral.”
She also shares her belief that the current fighting in South Sudan is “something personal between powerful men”. It is at this point that she also shared a personal experience with the men she referred to; one of who is rebel leader and former vice-president Riek Machar and the other, his replacement Taban Deng Gai.
The experience happened in the time when she was living in what is now South Sudan before her parents had sent her to live with her uncle in the US.
The two men who were part of a faction that fought President Salva Kiir during the civil war that broke out in December 2013, had apparently been visitors at her father’s church.
She describes the memory thus;
“When I was growing up, Riek Machar and Taban Deng Gai both used to visit my father’s church. I remember them coming to sing hopeful songs about the country. And now they are part of the cause of chaos.”
It won’t be the first time that an African leader has been painted in this light; being part of a hopeful past but allowing their newfound power to forge a chaotic present, just ask Zimbabwe’s Evan Mawarire about President Mugabe.