Peace is the concept of harmony of mind, body and soul. A concept that can only thrive in the absence of hostility. It creates a safe space for people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse beliefs to be able to express themselves in every form without judgement. Peace is not only the absence of war and conflict in our nations but an ideology that each person must internalize and find before they can advocate for it externally.
Africa is under attack but not by armies from beyond the Atlantic but by brothers and sisters of the same tribe. Brothers and sisters who after fighting the common enemy have begun to fight each other. Can you as an African say you are truly at peace?
I am an African woman with dark skin. I was never sold as a slave, I never lived with the prejudice racial discrimination brings and I was born in the 80s- the post colonial era when my people were free. Yet from a tender age I was told I was too black, no better than a shadow or a golliwog from one of Enid Blyton’s stories. The market women would eagerly beckon to me, “a little of this cream to make you beautiful my dear”. The boys looked at me and some of them said “if you were a little lighter, you would be so much finer”…
The media celebrated light skin and I was lured by the beauty promised in a bottle of bleaching cream. A beauty that seemed to guarantee social acceptance, better job opportunities, attraction by the male folk and peace…It promised calm to my inner turmoil and a silencing of the screaming voices that told me I was not good enough or pretty enough.
77% of Nigerians are currently lightening their skin, 59% of the Togolese, 35% of South Africans, 27% of Senegalese and 25% of Malians. No country is exempt. This has become a Pan-african pandemic!
Less than 10% of users are aware of the side effects which go beyond skin diseases, skin aging and skin cancer to encompass liver and kidney disease, diabetes, hypertension and obesity and there are others. In some cultures, it is taboo to even talk about it. The people who lighten their skin may be admired but they are invariably shamed for it when the side effects set in. Society has always been fickle.
Many of these people resorted to bleaching in a quest for peace because the lack of acceptance by their own people caused them inner conflict and a rising inferiority complex. Colorism has robbed so many of a peaceful existence.
Men are not spared, neither are children or even unborn babies as pregnant women have begun to take pills to lighten their fetus and birth a more attractive, lighter skinned child. Self- acceptance knows no gender, education, socioeconomic status or tribe.
“Our mind must make peace with our heart before we can make peace with the world” ~ Roxana Jones
Embracing peace means not discriminating against your African brother or sister with darker skin tones.
Embracing peace means deliberately choosing darker skinned models and actresses in the media.
Embracing peace means letting our children see heroes and TV personalities that they can identify with on African TV #wakandaforever
Embracing peace means full disclosure of the ingredients and side effects of skin lightening agents on every bottle.
Embracing peace means lighter is not better but every shade of black skin is equally beautiful.
The path to inner peace is through self-acceptance. Self-acceptance is most often based on the community’s viewpoints about our values. Mandela fought to end apartheid but isn’t colorism an apartheid of sorts and mustn’t we fight it as hard as he did?
“Until the minds of men become united, no important matter can be accomplished. At present, universal peace is a matter of great importance but unity of conscience is essential so that the foundation of this matter may become secure, its establishment firm and its edifice strong” ~ Abdu’l- Baha
Embracing peace as an African means embracing melanin and breaking the shackles of mental slavery. You cannot change the practice until you change the perception!
Together we can end colorism in Africa and kick skin bleaching off the continent. If you are interested in joining the movement send an email to embracemelanin@
Mandela said “it always seems impossible until it’s done!”