Duchess of Sussex speaks to women about her Nigerian roots

The Duchess of Sussex, says it has been “humbling” to find out through a genealogy test that she is partly Nigerian as she met women in the West African nation on Saturday.

On her second day in Nigeria, where she is visiting for the first time with the Duke of Sussex to also promote mental health for wounded soldiers and young girls, Meghan acknowledged Nigeria as “my country”.

She added: “It’s been eye-opening to be able to know more about my heritage.”

“It is a compliment to you because what they define as a Nigerian woman is brave, resilient, courageous, beautiful,” Meghan told the audience.

The duchess had announced on her podcast in October 2022 that she found out through the DNA-based test that she was “43% Nigerian”.

“Being African American, part of it is really not knowing so much about your lineage and background … and it was exciting for both of us,” she said.

“Ifeoma,” someone shouted from the crowd, a name from Nigeria’s Igbo tribe which means ‘a treasured thing’.

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Meghan sits beside Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director general of the World Trade Organisation, during an event in Abuja, Nigeria (Sunday Alamba/AP)

Meghan joined female industry leaders such as Ms Okonjo-Iweala to discuss the importance of mentorship for young women and the career challenges women face in a country like Nigeria, where it is not common for women to be in top leadership and political positions.

Asked by the anchor about how she feels about becoming the first woman and first African to lead the WTO, Ms Okonjo-Iweala said it was long overdue.

“When I will feel right is when we stop saying, ‘the first woman to do this … to do that’,” she said. “I have very mixed feelings about being the first woman because I think women should have been there already.”

She also spoke about mentors who have helped her career, including as Nigeria’s former finance minister.

One way to mentor young girls is by “returning home” to be closer to them, Meghan said, citing the case of Ms Okonjo-Iweala as an example.

“You need to come back home, you need to, at least, be a familiar face for the next generation to say, ‘Oh she looks like me and I can be that’,” she added.

Nigeria Invictus Games
Harry taking part in an exhibition sitting volleyball match in Abuja (Sunday Alamba/PA)

After the match held at the Nigerian Armed Forces’ Mess in Abuja, Harry and Meghan were surrounded by players, their families and a group of women who gave Meghan a Nigerian fabric.

“We are friends and family supporters of Harry and Meghan,” said Peace Adetoro, 57, a member of the group. “They are a beautiful couple and we love them so much. We support them 100%.”

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