Agbani Darego, Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) was born Ibiagbanidokibubo Asenite Darego in Abonnema, Rivers State, Nigeria on 22 December 1982. She is a Nigerian model, best known as the first Black African Miss World.
Darego hails from Abonnema, Rivers, and was born into a family of eight children. At ten, Darego was sent to boarding school in a bid to shield her from her mother who had breast cancer. Darego's mother died two years later, and her daughter has spoken of how the loss prepared her for the future. As a teenager, Darego longed to be a model, and despite her conservative father's wishes, she auditioned for the M-Net Face of Africa modelling competition, but was not chosen as a finalist. As a model, Darego appeared in print adverts for boutique chain Collectables.
Darego achieved greater success when she won Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria in 2001. Contrary to popular belief, Darego did not replace Valerie Peterside after the latter was dethroned - Peterside had won Miss Nigeria. Darego managed to divide her time between her official duties with her education at the University of Port Harcourt where she was studying Computer Science, and she represented Nigeria in the 2001 Miss Universe competition, held in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. She placed among the top 10 semi-finalists, finishing seventh. She was the only black semi-finalist that year - and the only finalist to wear a maillot as opposed to the more popular bikini.
In November 2001, Darego was crowned Miss World, becoming the first native Sub-Saharan African to claim the title (Although past winners, such as Penelope Coelen and Anneline Kriel, are South African (which is part of the Sub-Sahara), they are of European descent, and Antigone Costanda, who represented Egypt in 1954 is of Greek heritage). Her victory in the pageant was widely welcomed in her home country, and her one year tenure included goodwill trips and scheduled appearances on behalf of the pageant. Darego was honoured with the Nigerian national honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger, OON after her win as Miss World in 2001. During her reign, she visited a number of countries which included the United Kingdom, South Africa, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, the United States, Germany, Italy, China, Spain and France.
Due to her busy work schedule, Darego left the University of Port Harcourt after she won Miss World, she Studied Psychology at the New York University and graduated in May 2011. Formerly with Next Model Management, she is currently signed to Ford Models in New York. In 2002-2004 she was a spokesperson for L'Oréal cosmetics., and is now promoting Arik Airlines. In 2012, it was reported that she became engaged to marry Timi Alaibe, a prominent politician from the Niger Delta. Darego later denied the rumours on Twitter.
Her vital statistics are:
Star sign: Capricorn
Height 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)
Hair color: Black
Eye color: Brown
Title(s): Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria 2001, Miss World 2001
Major competition(s): Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria 2001 (Winner), Miss Universe 2001 (Top 10), Miss World 2001 (Winner) (Miss World Africa)