Kabukuru was born July 31, 1975 in Kampala, Uganda. With the aid of Amnesty International and United Way, Kabukuru and her family emigrated to California when she was a child due to political unrest in their native country. Kabukuru was discovered by fashion photographer Bill Bodwell in a Los Angeles shopping center when she was 16.
Kabukuru has been represented by several of the world's top modeling agencies, including Women Management, Trump Model Management, and Why Not Model Agency. As of February 2011 she is represented by Silent models in New York and Paris. Kabukuru has walked for fashion houses including Dior, Versace, Calvin Klein, Chanel, and Balmain. Her most notable editorial work includes covers for Vogue (Spain and United States) and Amica Italy, and a feature in the July 2008 all-black issue of Vogue Italia. She has posed for advertising campaigns by Dolce & Gabbana, Moschino, L'Oréal, Calvin Klein, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, and most famously CoverGirl cosmetics.