A combination of Beauty, Elegance and Intellect - Tausi Likokola

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The African beauty, Tausi Likokola has graced the catwalk stages of international fashion shows, showcasing renowned designers labels. The hard-working model is also the initiator and president of the Tausi Aids Fund organization, which focuses on preventing the spread of HIV AIDS in Tanzania. But that is not all; the African role model is also the author of the book titled "The art of Beauty and Health" which is planned to be on the market soon. In an interview with Afritopic in September 2003, Tausi talked eloquently about her modelling career and her organization as published below.

Afritopic:  You are originally from Tanzania, a country formed from 2 neighbouring countries, how was your childhood?

Tausi: Yes, Tanzania is a unification of 2 neighbouring countries, Tanganyika and Zanzibar. I had a happy childhood with very strict upbringing that instilled courtesy, politeness and general good manners into me. I was born into a well-to-do family. My father was a bank director and I had all the privileges attached to such status. Unfortunately, I lost my mother in my early childhood, when I was 2years old. But my father, my grandmother in particular and the rest of my extended family and relatives gave me a loving upbringing.

Afritopic: There are different religions in Tanzania due to diverse cultural influences. Did Religion play a significant role your upbringing and community?

Tausi: Despite the differences in religion, people from different ethnical and cultural backgrounds have been living together peacefully in Tanzania. I was brought up to be open to both Christianity and Muslim. We did not have any region problems in my family. We are free to attend the church or the Moshe.

Afritopic: Did you go through the normal educational system, which is adapted from the British system?

Tausi: As I said earlier, I was privileged. I attended one of the best schools in Tanzania. The educational system starts with the elementary school, followed by the secondary school after which one could study at a University. I speak and write Swahili perfectly, apart from English and German. I was good at school. In fact, I was very good in physics, chemistry and biology and scored very good grades.

Afritopic: As you mentioned, you were good at school and could have gone for a University Degree. But you are now a model. What happened?

Tausi: (smiles) Yes, I had very good grades in the sciences and initially thought of studying medicine. My family had no doubt that I was going to the University. I decided to study, but discarded the initial subject, medicine. This was because I realised how sensitive and emotional I am when confronted with people in pain. I applied to study at a University in Finland where my uncle is a professor. Because of the contacts to my family friends  in Germany, I later applied for admission to the University of Applied Sciences in Worms, Germany to study Business Administration with Tourism as the major subject. I liked the subject and again scored good grades. While still a student, a model-scouting agent approached me and introduced me to the fashion/glamour industry. Through the agent, I got the first assignment contracts. Other assignments followed and my modelling career keeps rolling.

Afritopic: Was it a hard decision for you to go into modelling?

Tausi: At the beginning, I just wanted to try it out. I thought that the experience might be useful for me. Meanwhile, I realised that I have been able to make good contacts and get to know interesting people in the business, which could be helpful in achieving my other goals. The modelling career brings me into limelight. Today, I am the ambassador for the Tanzanian tourism industry. Reflecting on the developments in my modelling career, I believe that it was a good decision so far.  continue>
Tausi Likokola

Afritopic: Though, there are only a few well-known black fashion designers and labels, have you had an assignment with a black designer for example PHAT?

Tausi: You are right that the number of black designers and labels are still few in the fashion industry and that is one of the reasons why I have not had a major assignment from a black label. I participated in a show in New York sometime ago, in which some black labels were also showcased. I think that with time we’ll have more black designers and labels featured in the European shows and eventually offer more assignment opportunities. As you mentioned, PHAT is becoming a popular label and the new line, BABY PHAT is also coming up the mainstream fashion industry. Moreover there are now regular fashion shows in South Africa, featuring black designers’ labels. I would surely model for a black label whenever the opportunity arises.

Afritopic: How do you keep yourself in shape and maintain your figure?

Tausi: I have been blessed in a way that it is relatively easy for me to keep myself in shape. Naturally, I make sure that I live and eat healthy. I do exercise whenever I can. I usually cook myself. I like cooking. I cook indigenous Tanzanian as well as modified recipes of my own creation. In fact I have started writing a book on recipes which includes different types of African and creative recipes.

Afritopic: Do you like writing?

Tausi: Yes I do. I love to write. I have already written a book on beauty and health, which is already in publication and hopefully, would be out on the market soon.

Afritopic: Do you think that you could be more successful as a writer?

Tausi: (smiles) I love to write. I could imagine a career as a writer. I used to write for the school magazine and I was good at it. I will continue to write whenever I am chanced. Who knows, this might be my second career and hopefully I am successful at it. But this is not the only option that I have.

Afritopic: Most top models plan post-modelling career and some, for example Naomi Campbell, even start their own businesses. Do you have a plan for another career?

Tausi: My advisers and manager have prepared me for the modelling career and possible career options after the modelling era. It is true that famous top models use their names to promote their own fashion or cosmetics lines. I also have my plans. As mentioned, I love writing and I hope to write more books. This is one of the options I have on my career list.

Afritopic: How about going into movies? Could you imagine a career as an actress?

Tausi: (laughs) I could imagine myself as member of an editorial team for television programs or even as news announcer but not as an actress. I do not think that I would be good at acting. It is not for me.

Afritopic: You initiated and formed the organization, Tausi Aids Fund. What motivated you to start the organization?

Tausi: The horrifying spread of HIVAIDS worldwide and particularly in Africa is made known through the media. I was concerned like everyone else. I lost my aunt in 1997. But it was not until I went to Tanzania on a visit that I realized how devastating the situation was. I saw people dying and several more AIDS-infected. I visited my old school and through discussions found out that approximately 60% of the pupils were AIDS-infected. Some of my former school colleagues were already dead. I saw families destroyed and children homeless because their fathers are dead and the mother in the hospital due to AIDS-infection. I could not bear the situation. I was so sad that I couldn’t help but cry. Throughout my stay in Tanzania, I was thinking of a way to help my people. On my return to Germany, I contacted my uncle. I told him of the way I felt and that I am determined to find a way to help. I also discussed with him my intension to form an organization that would be legal and able to carry out huge projects in relation to fighting the spreading of HIV AIDS. The organization would focus on raising funds to finance projects aimed at preventing and stopping the spread of HIV AIDS. My uncle supported my idea and volunteered to help in setting up the organization. With the help of my uncle and some friends, the office of Tausi Aids Fund was opened in Heidelberg.

Afritopic: Does your organization work with other international organizations or government parastatals?

Tausi: Through contacts, we have been able to attract volunteers and some organizations that are ready to work with us. As I mentioned before, I also worked with organizations in South Africa and Namibia. The Tanzanian government appreciates our work and is ready to support our initiatives.

Afritopic: How far has your organization been able to help fight against AIDS in Africa?

Tausi: The organization has contributed immensely to HIV AIDS awareness in Tanzania. We have provided educative information about HIV AIDS to schools. The organization regularly provides information on how to avoid AIDS-infection. I have personally talked to people, made presentations and given lectures. I have travelled extensively through Tanzania and I have appeared on the Tanzanian television giving interviews. I realized that due to my status as a successful model, I am a role model to the present generation of Tanzanians. My voice is heard and I have some influence on the behaviour of this generation. We are systematically achieving a change in relationship practices of the young generation. continue>


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Afritopic: Could you describe the present situation relating to AIDS in Tanzania?

Tausi: Through the work of our organization and some other institutions as well government programs, the infection rate has been drastically reduced. Apart from Tanzania, I travelled to South Africa and Namibia doing presentations on the prevention on HIV AIDS and working with national organizations in promoting the awareness of the disease.  Nevertheless, many Tanzanians have already been infected and they need to be taken care of. The Tausi Aids Fund will relentlessly continue to provide educative information on the prevention of HIV AIDS to the people of Tanzania with the Goal of eventually stopping the spread of HIV AIDS particularly in Tanzania and generally in Africa.

Afritopic: Could you describe the present situation relating to HIV AIDS in Tanzania?

Tausi: Through the work of our organization and some other institutions as well government programs, the infection rate has been drastically reduced. Apart from Tanzania, I travelled to South Africa and Namibia doing presentations on the prevention on HIV AIDS and working with national organizations in promoting the awareness of the disease.  Nevertheless, many Tanzanians have already been infected and they need to be taken care of. I appeal to profit-making firms in Africa, especially in Southern Africa to help educate the people about the dangers of the disease. These companies should make educative information available for all their employees and the people in the cities where they are based. The Tausi Aids Fund will relentlessly continue to provide educative information on the prevention of HIV AIDS to the people of Tanzania with the Goal of eventually stopping the spread of HIV AIDS particularly in Tanzania and generally in Africa.

Afritopic: Combining the stressful modelling career with the demanding management and representation functions of your organization requires a lot of energy. Where or how do tank fresh energy and gain strength?

Tausi: (smiles) I visited my aunt on her sick bed some years ago. I was unhappy to see her critically sick. Sitting on her bedside, she held my hands and told me not to worry about her. She is happy. She is happy to see me. She told me that she has confident in me. I was moved. I thought to myself; this is a dying woman motivating me to continue in my endeavours. I try to find time to regenerate myself and I pray a lot.

Afritopic: Do you have time to really get involved in relationship?

Tausi: (laughter) Relationship means commitment for me; total commitment. Right now, I am focused on my career. I do not want to mess myself up. And I do not want to mess anybody up. I’ll rather be focused; when the time is right, then I’ll be involved.

Afritopic: How do you feel as a black woman living in Germany and also as a black in the modelling/fashion business?

Tausi: You are always differently in countries or communities which you do not belong to originally. You cannot change the mentality and behaviuor of people in a day. I have learnt to live with the people. In the modelling/fashion business I do assignments that I like and leave out offers that do not comply with my principles or I am not comfortable with.

Afritopic: Working under stress in a high-speed business might cause depression. Are you depressive sometimes?

Tausi: I am of the opinion that we Africans have a lot of challenges but not necessarily depressions. We have diverse challenges and obstacles that might prove difficult to overcome. We have to work hard and harder. We have to find solutions to a variety of problems. I was brought up very strictly by my grand mother and taught not to accept failure easily. I try to have my schedule under control and relax by reading books. I have a couple of very good friends that I could call and talk to anytime. I have faith in God and pray a lot.

Afritopic: You are surely a role model for young girls who aspire to be models. What type of advice would you give the girls?

Tausi: To the girls, I would say that if you were offered the true chance, then try it out. A successful modelling career also offers you the opportunity of meeting a lot of people and making useful contacts. Despite the more or less stressful schedules, modelling could be fun. However, beware that you do not fall prey to scrupulous agents. No where you  come from and try to focus on your goals. Be yourself and do not be carried away by glamour. You should have to right people to manage and advice you. Do not be overzalous.  continue>

Afritopic: You are almost at the peak of your modelling career and your organization has made a positive impact creating AIDS awareness in Africa. Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

Tausi: Again to answer this question, I would refer to my grand mother, who used to tell me to do my best and leave the rest in the hands of His Almighty. End  
The Afritopic team thanks Tausi for granting this interview and appreciates the wonderful work she is doing in preventing the spreading of HIV AIDS in Africa.



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