What colour is God? Is he white as it is generally portrayed? How about black people? Were they also created in God’s image? BRIGHT MHANGO writes.
They are there on the market; if you are too black and, therefore, ‘ugly’ there are chemicals that can make your skin lighter: Diproson, hydroquinone and many names of similarly complex names. You can find them at Mataifa Market in Mzuzu or in any beauty parlour you enter.
A recent study by the University of Cape Town suggests that one woman in three in South Africa bleaches her skin; in Malawi, it is also easy to agree with the research as women take time to comb the shelves searching for skin bleaching chemicals.
Nation on Sunday asked Psychologist Chiwoza Bandawe to unpack the psychology behind the notion of skin bleaching. To Bandawe, the problem lies in the colonialism that Malawi went through. Since colonial masters were white, people are stuck with the notion that white is, therefore, better.
“Beauty is always defined by the group one is associated with, light skin has been associated with beauty by society and that puts pressure on the people,” said Bandawe.
So, in essence, one is beautiful if they fit another’s idea of beauty. Bandawe is definitely right; people with dark skin are ridiculed, women with dark skin ignored and people of mixed races and light skins are even given priority in banks and restaurants because generally they are taken as a superior kind.
The BBC quoted statistics from the World Health Organisation which reported 77 percent of Nigerian women use bleaching products on a regular basis, followed by Togo with 59 percent, South Africa with 35 percent and Mali at 25 percent.
South African musician Nomasonto “Mshoza” Mnisi, who now looks closer to a white lady because she bleached her skin, says her new skin makes her feel more beautiful and confident.
“I’ve been black and dark-skinned for many years, I wanted to see the other side. I wanted to see what it would be like to be white and I’m happy,” Mnisi told BBC.
Another artist Adija Palmer said his skin now looks pretty like a colouring book after bleaching out. Hhe actually launched his own brand of bleaching soap for his fans to buy and use to bleach their skin with.
Did God create Africans as inferior? Are black people a mistake?
NO, says Sheik Dinala Chabulika, national coordinator of the Islamic Information Bureau.
“It is not right that black people are not beautiful. In fact, I am declaring that black is beautiful. It’s just manufactured mentality, it’s the influence of media that makes people believe that everything white is superior,” said Chabulika.
He agreed with Bandawe that the colonial roots are to blame for the current bleaching issues. Chabulika said given tomatoes grown in England and Malawi, Malawians would choose one grown in England because of the mentality.
“It’s not just bleaching, women import hair from abroad, depleting the country’s precious forex just to become what they think is beautiful,” said Chabulika.
Chabulika said Allah never made a mistake; black people are humans like any other race.
As much as Chabulika might root for black people, the situation on the ground speaks of harsh realities. Even beauty pageants favour light skinned people while advertisers only use light skinned people in their posters.
Jamaican poet and pan-Africanist Alan Hope laments the whole idea of worshiping the lighter colours, and to him the problem starts in the Bible.
“In the name of Jesus, you divided black people in groups, causing them to distrust each other. The first charge is for misleading black people into their colour blind blindness; you have black people worshiping everything white as good: white Jesus white, winged angels, white Christmas, even the songs talk about ‘whiter than snow I long to be.
“So, you trying to tell me that if my sins are white instead of scarlet god will accept my sins and by the way Michael Angelo painting of his uncle for years black people keep revering this picture as the true picture of Christ all your religious holidays originate in Europe everything in heaven is white everything in hell is black,” wrote Hope in his poem The People’s Court II.
The Bible says all humans are crafted in the image of God (Genesis 1 vs 26). Is bleaching not questioning God and telling him he failed in colour coding black people?
Andrew Courtier, blogging on www.el-eaga.com, said the sad thing about the whole bleaching thing is that the profits made from sale of bleaching products go to another race.
Courtier quotes Dr Neil Persadsingh, a dermatologist who alleges that some of the bleaching products contain steroids and hydroquinone, which are mutagenic. This means they can cause changes in the body that can lead to cancer.
Many users, he notes, find their skin gradually becoming darker when they quit using the chemicals, and some develop a scaly layer on their skin. Few return to their original skin colour once they have used skin lighteners.
The prolonged and continued use of these creams will lead to a face looking like a grater, he warns.
“We should go back to our original thinking,” Chabulika says in offering a solution to the problem.