Tue, 05 Dec 2023 Opinion

Remembering Sima Ibrahim of Exopa

The late Sima IbrahimThe late Sima Ibrahim

Of all the motives that drive people to engage in various pursuits, “interest” and “dedication” rule supreme. And those were probably some of the values that guided Sima Ibrahim when he set out to build a vibrant fashion/modelling industry in Ghana.

He had lived and worked in Germany (and also elsewhere) as a supermodel, and had been exposed to a very high standard of how things ought to be done, and he thought it wise to move back home to replicate such high standard in the country.

There’s a certain utter relief when an idea that had taken complete hold of you for a long time finally materialised. It is that similar sense of satisfaction that engulfed Sima when he eventually established Exopa Model Agency, which became Ghana’s leading modelling agency in a twinkling. That is not all, he went on to build a modeling school called Exopa Modelling School which intensively trained models.

Sima, who was Togolese/Ghanaian by birth but “German” by choice, made a name for himself in Ghana and was the industry’s standard-bearer in his heyday. The dusky hunky bloke redefined modelling the professional way, and provided platforms as well as rare opportunities for young models to pursue their dream to fruition.

In his continual bid to give these models international exposure, he set up Exopa in countries like Germany and also partnered with agencies in the USA – New York City (NYC) and Atlanta.

With over a thousand local and international models of different nationalities, Exopa became the go-to modelling agency in Ghana and beyond. The models were the most sought-after with regards to runway fashion shows, outdoor advertisements (billboard, etc.), television commercials (TVC) or TV adverts, music videos, et cetera et cetera.

As a model himself with an alluring figure and athletic physique, Exopa’s clients sometimes preferred Sima to the models under his stables. Hence, he (Sima) intermittently starred in TV adverts. His perfectly bony face could also be seen grinning widely on billboards and other forms of outdoor advertisements across the country.

It is important to note that, it was he (Sima) who “professionally” introduced the concept of “kid modelling” in Ghana, and had a myriad of children under his tutelage. One of such Exopa child models was famous Ghanaian media practitioner, Angela Bamford – a former member of defunct girl music group “D3” (Diamond 3). Another protégé of Sima was promising Ghanaian actress Ophelia Klenam Dzidzornu.

Hitherto, parents shied away from allowing even their adult children to pursue a career in modelling as t’was presumed to be a profession for individuals who were promiscuous/nymphomaniac (or "Ashawo", as it is referred to in our local parlance). But Sima came in to dispel such negative perceptions about modelling and the fashion industry.

To brand Ghana as the continent’s fashion/modelling hub, he created a fashion extravaganza called “Ghana Fashion Week” (GFW). The aim of this fashion event was to bring together fashion designers on the Africa continent to showcase their various designs and apparels. Beyond this, the event created a fertile ground for networking.

The first edition of the GFW held in 2008 lived up to expectations. So, when Sima and his team decided to stage its second edition the following year, it attracted the glitterati and top players in the fashion/showbiz industry from all over the world.

The 2009 edition, which was the last time the GFW was organised, had in attendance Boris Kodjoe – a Hollywood actor cum model of Ghanaian extraction. Accompanied by his wife Nicole Ari Parker, Boris used the GFW occasion to outdoor his clothing line – “Ziami”.

He and Sima also took to the runway to strut their stuff on the catwalk at the event much to the delight of the animated crowd.

Also on the runway at the 2009 GFW were superstars viz. Emmanuel Adebayor, Michael Essien, Tony Baffoe, et al.

Sima’s Exopa became so big that the area where it was located in Accra, officially called “East Labadi” (the residential area behind the Ghana Trade Fair site), was later unofficially renamed “Exopa”.

His great exploits in fashion/modelling also caught the attention of international media networks like Cable News Network (CNN), Reuters and the likes. He was profiled and celebrated on those global media platforms as a beacon in his natal country.

But for his sentencing to gaol (jail) in 2011 for attempting to smuggle narcotic drugs out of the country, following his arrest at the Kotoka International Airport on September 7 in 2009 while en route to Germany, Sima would have etched his name into the annals of the world’s fashion and modelling industry.

Many of his loyalists were hoping that he would rebound after serving his 15-year jail term to continue from where he left off. But alas, that hope was dashed to smithereens when on this day, December 5, in 2014 news went round that the fashion icon had mysteriously given up the ghost.

His one and only child, Abu Sadick Ibrahim tried to resuscitate and restore Exopa to its former glory but to no avail. Seemingly, the young man lacked the gravitas as well as the skills and qualities needed to competently serve in his late dad’s stead. Consequently, Exopa went kaput.

Be that as it may, Sima Ibrahim would be remembered from time to time for his mighty contributions to the fashion and modelling industry of Ghana.

May his gentle soul continue to rest in peace.

Eugene Selorm Owusu
Eugene Selorm Owusu

Media Practitioner/WriterPage: EugeneSelormOwusu

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