Saturday, July 2, 2011

The natural colour of your skin is lovely! Come my sister

Keep you black skin sister, I love your hair

Inspiration. Thinking about it, we fly with the sprightly spirit in the word! A la Ariel in The Tempest, we all propose to find inspiration off the ground, flying around somewhere. Topics about inspiration i agree have to have some air in them, some desire to be up there. And there is no better way of being inspired than starting in the way of loving oneself.

I do not know if many African men bleach their skins but it is common with the sisters. Whereas one can understand a need for a change of hair style, the skin is a rather sensitive and important organ to destroy! It is not dead cells!

I was walking with my friend PL in Oslo. She is so beautiful and of ebony color. We went into a shopping mall. I noticed that PL was uncomfortable. I looked at her and I got the hint. Trying on some smart and expensive stuff was an older looking woman (you never know about age these days) and she had bleached her lovely African skin to some non natural Fanta like look. In some countries in Africa such people are actually called Fanta girls. You can always tell the natural so called lighter or brown skin from this one. She also had harsh pencil lines for eyebrows. This type of woman has to have a long wig. I had seen a totally blond one in Heathrow only last week. A sleek woman had it on. A little girl gifted with more melanin was looking at her. I hoped she was not asking where she could get such a wig.

I think we have to inspire ourselves by loving our natural self. No need to fly. Just touch your skin and love its own color. I fear the west did a lot of damage to our psyche and this is not going away.

Black dolls

On the other hand, I was so happy to see a father drawing his little one on carrier. Next to the chubby caucasian baby was a lovely black doll. I loved that. It was inspiring. I believed that baby would never think not to love anyone for reasons of darkness. I do hope that this person treats all people well and without prejudice and not just loves dolls. As for shop keepers and sellers..stock more of these! Make them famous. We in Afrika for ages had only Caucasian dolls around. Often you find black ones at home now but they are most often made of fabric meaning big toy makers may not be fully into the idea. I feel we must try out best to give a whole people their self esteem back. I mean also in India where casts dominate and the darker one is apparently the less beautiful or important they are. We are simply equal. Skin is not a gauge even for beauty!

I think in that behaviour of hating one’s own skin many are to blame. Models are normally chosen even if African from the less dark Africans. I was shocked to hear that from Judy, an African -American. She said she felt small and black and all her lighter colored friends got the jobs. Shame. We made her feel small. In some countries you can live in a suburb depending on the shade of your skin. We shamed South Africa for apartheid, fought and won but we are guilty of not having moved as a world without colour bar! Two old words still applicable ! At home in Africa also many people praise their ‘brown’ child above the darker one in some cases. I know we are free to love our natural ‘blonds’ but not at the expense of hating who we are naturally. But fine, do what you like with your body and hair! You are free. Only remember that this is often based on despising oneself. I dislike it very much especially to see someone like that in Europe. I know that there even tablets for it. I know many famous people did this and that to self.. but how can I inspire your spirit if you hate your body? It is hard. We see these as very separate but they are deeply connected no doubt!

In my house and stories, I have lovely black dolls. I am not afraid to quote from my work because this is genuine. Of course am not saying eliminate the caucasian one! Look@ Kenya, will you marry me? my latest novel published in May 2011. I have:

“They need to sit on my little arm chair at home and 'eat stories' and food. I need them. They are dolls with black hair and skins. Lovely dolls dressed colorfully. Meet Savaiva. Savaiva does not have clothes on. She used to wear clothes before. Now, she ties a loose cloth over her shoulders. This loose cloth, is expected to cover her below the waist. Someone beat her up. Someone tore off her clothes. Did you hear the silence? Silence must be broken, this pain must break the the silence, like a flood breaks banks, and pours out. “ Philo Ikonya ©


“I forgot to tell you. I made Pamoja long, long ago. She keeps all our history close to heart and always tells it to her younger brother Umoja and his friends. When she speaks, all the girls gather around her long pleated skirt that spreads out on the ground so that they can all sit down. She is the pillar that stands in a skirt but who the skirt honors in its round wide shape, like a home. She is a griot who does not only recite history; she tells people what signs of trouble to watch out for. She is not the only seer in the village. One of her stories is about how women see. She says that women have to sight many, many moons in different shapes and forms. The world does not understand them easily for women will say just what they see in the smallest crescent of the tiniest moon. Men like these women are rare. Now you have met many of us, but do not worry. We are easy people. You are one with us. Together, we are of many colors and we like how we look: tar, chocolate, café au lait, black, ripe mango color and tea au lait and even white like milk. Baba brought me a brand new Caucasian doll from Nairofii. I did not remember giving it a name. It could eat and drink and cry. We were all amazed. Maybe he got it as a gift, may be he bought her in a shop. Everyone in the family and some in the village talked about the doll and how wonderful she looked with long blonde eyelashes that fluttered over her beautiful blue eyes. Differences should fascinate.

“How did she go to the toilet?” became a common question. As if it could be any different, except of course in a doll that has no life. All ours do. The question was a good one in the village. The Caucasian doll one day asked a question. It was about her mother's nipples. She asked if she had just seen them on De Gado's mother. Same darkness. She wanted warm milk. The same milk. We were happy she did not ask that same old tired question, “Oh, why are the palms of our hands and the soles of our feet the same color?” Did you think that some peoples blood was really blue and others white? I get tired of this story. It nearly tore Kenya apart when she was young in 1962. It wanted us apart and separated by color of skin. We somehow beat it. De Gado asks if we really did or if we just pretended to. I did not expect that our children still had to deal with it both at home and abroad. It is so strange a fascination. It is too old fashioned. Kenya will you marry me? Philo Ikonya©

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