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Dennis Okwera: ‘Let’s Be Kinder To Each Other, Especially Refugees’

The Ugandan-born model how he is finding purpose in pursuing an unconventional career to support his family and the community he comes from.
Dennis Okwera
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Background:

At BoF VOICES 2022, fashion model Dennis Okwera spoke about his childhood in Uganda, fleeing home to avoid the violent life of becoming a child soldier in the rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army, coming to the UK as a refugee at the age of nine.

Though he was scouted multiple times while living in the UK, it wasn’t until he was attending university that Okwera decided to pursue modelling.

This week on the BoF podcast, model Okwera discusses his childhood escaping a guerilla army in Uganda, his adult life as a model in the UK and how he used his success to give back to his community.

“Let’s just be a little bit kinder to each other, especially to refugees. Just see them with an open mindset; we’re just looking for security and freedom, that’s it really,” said Okwera.

Key Insights:

  • After Okwera was scouted he said at first his father objected to the idea of him modelling. “The first time I got scouted, my dad was like; ‘No, no, you’re not doing it.’ You know, this is an African dad who thinks anything outside of education is a complete failure,” he says
  • When Okwera first started his modelling career he had the opportunity to work with designer Grace Wales Bonner when she was still a student attending Central Saint Martins.
  • Thanks to his career in modelling, Okwera was able to put his cousins through school and support his aunt who was diagnosed with HIV. Okwera says the “sole purpose” of him pursuing a modelling career was to support his family.
  • After travelling back to Uganda to donate sanitary essentials like diapers and formula, Okwera reunited with his mother after 24 years of being away. “I didn’t know what it was like to have your own mum,” said Okwera.

Additional Resources:

  • BoF VOICES 2022: Live Your Best Life: During last year’s BoF VOICES model Dennis Okwera discussed his childhood escaping the rebel group, Lord’s Resistance Army and fleeing Uganda to live in the UK.
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