Meet Menaye Donokr via her bio and our exclusive interview.
Menaye Donkor is a Milan-based model, entrepreneur and philanthropist. She spends her time between Italy, England, USA and Ghana. She is married to footballer Sulley Muntari.
Menaye Donkor was born in 1983. She was brought up by her parents in Accra, Ghana, and is the youngest of seven siblings with four brothers and two sisters. At the age of seven Menaye inherited the job title of “Royal Stool Bearer” for her paternal grandmother, who is the Queen mother of Agona Asafo. She graduated with honors in marketing from York University in Toronto, Canada.
In her early twenties she started modelling after winning the “Miss Universe Ghana 2004” pageant and graced the covers of many magazines in Ghana. She also did editorial work for magazines in South Africa, Milan and Canada.
In 2004, soon after the pageant, she established the Menaye Charity Foundation, and took over the running of the Menaye International School which her parents set up in 2001. Menaye is now solely responsible for raising funds to support the school, which provides quality education to rural under privileged children. So far, over 500 children have been through the school and the facilities are continually expanding.
Through her Charity Foundation, Menaye also supports an orphanage in the eastern region of Ghana, providing medical care for over 600 orphans infected with HIV or AIDS.
In 2006 Menaye met Inter Milan footballer, Sulley Muntari, at the World Cup finals in Germany. In 2010 the pair got married in Dzorwulu, Accra on Christmas Day.
Her business interests are primarily in property and she runs her own property development company, Zafra ltd, which focuses on renting out and developing properties in Ghana’s capital, Accra. Menaye intends to branch out into the food and entertainment industry.
Exclusive Black Women in Europe interview:
BWIE: How has Africa’s rich culture influenced designers in England?
MD: The styles and trends coming through from Africa now reflect the rich culture on the continent. Africans are known to be happy people with vibrant colors and over the top designs. Everything is African inspired from head ties, bright and bold accessories, African print bathing suits and sandals/stilettos with a twist of western influence are becoming really popular, and the bright colours are perfect for the summer season. I personally think fashion has not been the same since the 60s, 70s, 80s and the 90s, it has only been replicated and recreated. We have seen Asian and other parts of the continent fuse with western designs but never Africa/Western fashion until recently. Designers wanted something new, innovative and fresh and they found it in African fashion. It is the re-birth of a new era in the fashion industry. Louis Vuitton have re-created a local African shopping bag used in market places famously known as “Ghana must go”, which shows how much influence African fashion has on western fashion. Follow these links for pictures:
BWIE: Modeling is hard work and very competitive. What is your advice for young black women who want to enter the world of high fashion modeling?
MD: Being a model has had its ups and downs. It is a very competitive industry and a model has to be clever and know when to reinvent themselves because the industry evolves all the time. Agencies would not sign or work with me because I wasn’t Caucasian or “the token dark skinned girl. I didn’t fit a certain category and I remember being called “TOO CUTE” but I eventually found my niche and it worked for me. Any young black woman entering the world of fashion should be true to themselves. You need to be organic to set yourself apart from other models. Believe in yourself even when you have been knocked back a zillion times. Have in mind that your look might not be ideal for every gig or meet a designer’s expectation so there is no point trying to change who you are to suit a certain “type” It only makes you look phony. Last but not the least be open-minded but vigilant.
BWIE: Why is your charity work important to you and what has been your greatest achievement via the charity?
MD: I grew up in a home where charity meant a lot to my parents, so using the title of Miss Universe Ghana gave me the platform to promote the family spirit of charity. I saw the good deed my parents were doing for the community and wanted to continue the legacy. Every moment throughout my charitable work has been an achievement because every little effort and input made a huge impact in a child’s life!
BWIE: How can black women in Europe support your charity?
MD: We are working on globalizing Menaye Charity Organization so any support through raising awareness and/or endorsements by institutions, organizations or individuals in Europe will be of great help. We also accept all sorts of donations as well. I.e. used books, computers, clothes, Etc. Please visit www.menaye.com for further information.