THE STORY AS IT IS

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These hairy and brown skinned hands are never the same. It is not about fingers being equal, it’s a lot more. They all look alike, one fat thumb alongside four well partitioned fingers. But would you say your hands are like mine just because they move alike, and do things that mine would?  We can flip through every part of our body, every substituent that is fused together. Everything is similar, if it isn’t then you’re tagged abnormal. So even from the genesis of things, we were meant to be the same. But the truth is that characteristics are a constant, it is probably the only thing that is mutually shared between the elitist and savages. It’s a birthright. It is very easy to blend into the crowd, to spend every day thinking that two hands, a head and two legs are all you need to keep going.  You readily buy into that notion, after all almost everyone thinks the same.  That’s a lie that’s big enough to cripple your very worth.

I will not deviate today; I will not let the budding ideas in my head lead me away.  We would never be the same, because something stronger defines us. I can stand on a hill; I can watch the sun rise from its slumber. I can be in awe of nature and look on till the skies go dark. Yet I can never be like the man next to me. The both of us are savoring the moment together, we scream in unison as the lions roar from the dry lands just below us, he holds my hand as we climb the steep hill. I feel like I had met him somewhere before.

“Are you from Kigali. “I ask at last.

He looks at me for the first time; I see the scar below his eyes. I see that he has no teeth in his mouth.

“I am from Kibungo.”  His voice is hoarse, his mouth doesn’t move an inch, but I hear the words.

We are devoured by nature itself, the perfection of every edge and spot. I know he is also excited, even though he doesn’t say much. I do all the talking. I tell him about Mary, the prostitute from Gisenyi I had fallen in love with. I tell him about my inn at Byumba, I keep talking.  The smell of fresh leaves is so pleasant. I want to call him brother all of a sudden. I want to know much about him, but he barely says a word.

“What do you do in Kibungo?”

“I do nothing exactly.”

“Don’t you have a family?”

“Everyone has a family.” He sounds irritated now.

“How many children do you have?”

He sits on the ground. He draws his legs on the sand, and then he looks up at me. I see tears in his eyes now. His words are muffled up.

“The soldiers raped Sarah, they raped her while I watched .I could do nothing, I was helpless. I…I…saw it all. They slit my little girls’ throat…Oh…Oh…. They tied me up and set the house on fire. I was left to die.”

He stands up, he is still in tears. He doesn’t look back at me. I felt the tears run down my face. This man who had travelled several miles to have a feel of nature was not like me. We bonded so well, but then he had been through so much. He was stronger, he was tougher.

“You are not my brother.” I say.

He doesn’t hear me.

BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL

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Our tradition is quite rich, it’s something to be proud of, being an African is dynamic, a cultural depth that supersedes every other. Our skin is colored and so is our heart, we have strong tough hair but the same goes for our soul. We tell the story of slavery, bondage and endless fights for recognition, different heroes have emerged, each taking us closer to our promise land. The phrase, black is beautiful is powerful, beauty discovered in our ebony skin, our radiance certainly blinds the sun….that’s who we are.

Recently, there has been a drift, our yatch is headed in an unknown direction, there has been a significant dent on our rich culture but the sudden escalation is alarming. Certain people have blinded their eyes to the beauty they posess and now our once glorious skin is despised by many. In the eighties, a popular pop star changed his skin colour in gradual phases, a quick escape from his real identity, it wasn’t so bad then, after all it was just one person but today that “affliction” has gone viral, the fairer you are the better (so they think). The society drools at the afflicted, the group of people that have enslaved their souls. We all appreciate beauty, so the wigs, artificial nails and cosmetics complement that notion, but it is absurd and pathetic when you try to change your skin colour! Not necessarily plastic surgery but a conscious attempt at transforming your skin colour is a swerve in the wrong direction.

Have we lost our pride? Have we trampled on our history? A vast majority of us have opted for bleaching lotion and a host of other “mixtures” to tone our skin, an obvious obsession to be like the Europeans. I am bewildered at the latest trend, I’ve seen friends completely transform overnight, once very dark people now looking like hungry Arabs, I have come to the simple conclusion that quite a number of us are still enslaved. Not with chains and whips but mentally enslaved. We have clearly gone beyond the point of standing up in trains and buses just because you are black, not getting education because of the colour of your skin or getting whisked away from your farm in Zambia to serve slave masters in distant lands, we are definitely past that! But maybe that’s the problem, we have forgotten the journey and so a change in colour doesn’t represent any moral deviation.

The surge in skin bleaching keeps getting worse, a friend recently told me a joke, according to him, if you are about to choose a husband or a wife you’ll have to ask for their baby pictures! Because everybody has a light complexion, what’s strange is the fact that they are thriving in their reformation despite the dangerous climatic change! I mean, with the heat and sunlight we experience every day, how do people manage to get fairer? I once asked a lady what her secret was and she told me her recent skin change was because she now spent so much time in air conditioned environments!(LOL)
Now, we can come up with this excuses, we can lie to everyone around us, but we can’t lie to ourselves. I’m not a shrink and I don’t plan on becoming one, but when you’re not proud of your skin colour, it clearly means you don’t appreciate who you are, you have diminished your self-worth. You feel you’re not beautiful or confident enough, so you tint your hair, put contact lenses, bleach your skin, wear a wig just to look good. If God gave you a choice you’ll definitely have chosen to be a Caucasian, but you have to discover that there is a lot of beauty embedded in your dark skin, you should be budding with pride and not consciously trying to disfigure yourself. Apart from the high risks of skin cancer and vitiligo, the greatest tumor will be on your soul.

Yours dearly is quite dark and I don’t mind getting darker, because in my colour is history, beauty and culture.

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