Akuol de Mabior is a prominent South Sudanese model, educator, activist, entrepreneur, and filmmaker.
She is renowned for being the daughter of the late Dr. John Garang, a charismatic leader who lead South Sudan on its journey toward independence and peace.
Akuol has grazed the covers of numerous fashion publications and walked the runways for globally renowned designers.
She is also an advocate for human rights and gender equality, using her platform to raise awareness about social issues and empower marginalized communities.
18 years after her father’s demise, we take a look at Akuol de Mabior’s life, a model-turned-filmmaker trying to carry on her parent’s legacy.
As a result of her parent’s political careers, not to mention South Sudan’s involvement in the liberation war that lasted decades, most of Akuol’s life was spent outside the country.
Born in Cuba and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Akuol pursued a modeling career overseas, residing in New York.
After spending years modeling around the world, she returned to Africa to pursue a university degree in film theory and practice.
So, who is Akuol de Mabior? And what is she up to currently?
Here is everything you need to know about her inspiring journey of self-discovery.
- Full name: Akuol Garang De Mabior
- Gender: Female
- Date of birth: 1989
- Age: Estimated to be 34 (as of 2023)
- Place of birth: Cuba
- Hometown: Nairobi, Kenya
- Current residence: Cape Town, South Africa
- Nationality: South Sudanese
- Ethnicity: Black
- Religion: Christian
- Sexuality: Straight.
- Hair color: Black
- Eye color: Black
- Mother: Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior
- Father: John Garang de Mabior
- Siblings: 6
- University: University of Cape Town
- Profession: Fashion model, Filmmaker, Businesswoman, Activist
- Social media: LinkedIn
Early Life and Family
Even to her admission, Akuol’s life hasn’t been straightforward.
Her early life began in Cuba, where she was born in 1989 to her parents; Rebecca Nyandeng (a South Sudanese politician, a peace ambassador in a war-torn country and an advocate for women’s equality), and Dr. John Garang (leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and the first Vice President of Sudan) exiled from Sudan.
Later, her family moved to Nairobi, Kenya, where she was raised.
Her father, Dr. John Garang, was on the frontiers of the Liberation fight for the predominantly Christian South Sudan and is considered the founding father of Africa’s youngest nation.
Due to his parent’s political activities, her presence, alongside her siblings, was quite sporadic in the country.
She has six siblings, most of whom grew up exiled in Kenya.
Just aged 16, her father tragically passed away in a helicopter crash in 2005, merely three weeks after being inaugurated as the leader of newly liberated South Sudan, and the first vice president of Sudan.
In her formative years, Akuol’s family lived a daily life of conflict and uncertainty and were constantly on the move.
As such, her educational pursuits weren’t smooth riding. She reportedly had short stints in elementary school in Juba, South Sudan, but would later move to Nairobi, where she continued with her elementary education.
Shortly after her father died in 2005, Akuol quit school and moved to New York to get her modeling career underway.
To her admission, modeling was an accumulation of body shaming, and when that started to take a toll on her health of body image, she quit and moved to South Africa to pursue her studies.
As an undergraduate, she majored in media (film production option) and TV studies, as well as minoring in writing and gender studies at the University of Cape Town.
She pursued a second degree in film theory and practice at the same institution.
The renowned filmmaker is a successful woman and a highly regarded figure not only in South Sudan but in Africa and beyond.
Her journey and accomplishments are juggled between modeling, entrepreneurship, filmmaking, teaching, and activism.
As a fashion model, she was signed up and grazed the runways of famous brands and designers, including Manage Me Milan, MD Management Hamburg, Elite Paris, Chanel, Paul Smith, and Vivienne Westwood.
She also appeared in the 2013 editorials for The City Magazine.
She is also a filmmaker with a footing in the industry. She undertook three independent films in 2011 that weaved aspects of her family’s history and activism.
However, her biggest shot at film production came in 2022 with No Simple Way Home – an intimate documentary about her family’s dedication to the decades-long struggle for South Sudan’s liberation.
Akuol is also an educator, currently teaching at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
On the periphery, she is also a successful businesswoman, venturing into the art of beekeeping and making lip balm and other cosmetic products from beeswax.
The famous activist felt inclined to carry on her parent’s human rights legacy, and she is a board member for Embrace Dignity – a South African-based non-profit that advocates for law reforms geared towards ending sex trafficking and prostitution.
Akuol de Mabior’s filmmaking career has hit the ground running.
The film went on to win the Best African Documentary, as well as the Adiaha Award for Best Documentary by an African Woman.
Her latest film, On the White Nile, has garnered over 770,000 views on YouTube and also won gold at the New York Festivals TV and Film Awards.
Her films have been heralded for reimagining the perspective of African tales in the sight of an outsider.
Akuol de Mabior is a prominent figure in her war-torn homeland whose career exploits in modeling, filmmaking, and activism have left an indelible mark in Africa and beyond.
Her life may have been shaped by turmoil and uncertainty – given her parent’s political careers – but that didn’t stop her from embarking on a journey of self-discovery and determination to make the world a better place.