I am angry at you. You incense me. Your ignorance makes me livid. I pity you for failing to love yourself. Is there a sadder spectacle? You have no pride. You are deeply damaged. You hate yourself. You are trying to be someone else, and failing at it. You try to hide it but it never fails to show. Your actions betray your words.
You struggle to suppress your accent. Why do you hate your own accent? You force your tongue to loosen its bantu make-up. You look down on those who cannot speak English, French or Spanish; Like the English, French or Spaniards give a damn about your language. You are cut off from the civilization of your forefathers because your tongue refuses to learn their customs. You punctuate everything you say with a foreign phrase as if to sound educated and smart. You now think in a foreign language. Your mind is crippled.
You are proud of your foreign name. You are silently thankful that your parents gave you a name with Jewish or European roots and you hope to do the same with your children. If they did not give you one you give yourselves aliases, and call them a.k.a.s. Sometimes you shorten your name, sometimes you manipulate it. You think that sounds better, sexier you say. You subconsciously diss those with authentic African names, names that actually mean something. Names that preserve a little of what is left of the identity your people once had.
You hate your ancient customs. You call them dark and superstitious, as if talking snakes, burning bushes, pregnant virgins, and human-swallowing-whales are scientific and sensible. You call those who believe in your ancestor’s Gods witches. You have assimilated your former master’s doctrines. You have become more Christians than that mildly blonde, blue-eyed man whose picture you have in your church. He was middle-eastern, how could he look that way? Your idea of an angel is a white creature. Of course they are, have you ever seen a black angel? Your idea of God is white, long bearded ‘ancient of days’. Of course Satan is black, he is the dark angel. You can’t wait to have the 72 virgins. You sing of cities of gold flowing milk, while others are having their heaven right down here.
Why do you hate the color of your skin? So much that you are willing to bleach it with harmful, cancer-causing chemicals. They are trying to tan their skins and you are trying to bleach yours? How ridiculous of you! You say black is beautiful, but deep inside you crave to be as far away from black as you can. Your idea of beauty is polluted. Your skin’s purity is gone. To make matters worse, the cosmetics industry is cheating you, giving you exactly what you want; fake beauty. You do not realize nothing can be beautiful that is not authentic. And you end like an ugly caricature, diseased and frustrated.
You hate the texture of your hair. You abhor its kinkiness. You’d rather wear wigs and weaves than walk around in your natural hair. You are the only person in the globe who goes around with hair that is not yours. But of course you never think of it that way, you call yourself modern. You call it expressing yourself.
Who taught you to hate your own eyes; your big beautiful eyes? Who taught you that green or blue was a better color? Who said brown or black was not beautiful? Where is it written that yellow was not cute? Who taught you to hate your lips; your broad, beautiful, kiss-friendly lips? Why do you hate the size and make of your nose? Who taught you to hate yourself?
Who taught you to hate your size so much that you would starve yourself? Who brainwashed you? Who taught you to hate the size of breasts? Who taught you to worry about your bottom’s volume? Why do you have such a low self-esteem? Who told you beauty standards are universal?
Take a look at these words, ‘blackmail, blacklist, black market, black day, black hat, black sheep of the family’ What do those words have in common? What makes a ‘white lie’ good? Look at the languages; can’t you even see it in these languages? The languages you have so enthusiastically embraced. Is there anything good in it about your color?
You have lost your sense of self. You are prisoner, a slave chained to foreign standards of beauty and elegance; standards you will never meet. A century and a half ago your people fought to free you, they fought for your dignity and pride, they died to preserve your sense of worth. But you walked right back into that mental cage. Your hands and feet are no longer in chains, but your mind is still trapped and subdued. You still think you are inferior. You say beauty lies in the beholder’s eyes, but your vision is clogged by your learned inferiority. You measure everything by their standards, and wonder why you feel inferior. You are a punk. The bars of the mental cage they put you in haven’t dissolved.
Who taught you to hate your own music; that beautiful danceable music? Why do you desert your natural rhythm? The melodies so rich in soul and sound. Why do you know more about Hollywood than you do about your own artists? Don’t you know they can’t even locate your country on a map? Why do you look down on your own poets? Why do you not read books by your own authors? In fact, why do you not read at all? You see, right there is a problem.
You learned history upside down. You are misinformed and ignorant. They tricked you and now you hate yourself from head to toe. They told you things, things that made you hate your own ancestors. They trivialized their cruelty; you have forgotten what they did to you. They raped you so much you began to enjoy it, now you are asking for more. They told you history began when they arrived, and you believed them. They called your people barbaric, savages, and you mindlessly nodded in agreement. They crushed your pride. They killed millions of your people, kidnapped and chained even more of them. But still you would rather be like them.
Now you are supposedly free and civilized. Now you can think for yourself. And I ask you, is there anything you like about yourself?
“Who Taught You To Hate Yourself?” is written by Samwel Ndandala.
Samwel Ndandala is a Transfer Pricing and Value Chain Transformation Consultant at PwC Switzerland. He believes we all have a voice, a story, something to give. He believes ideas are real, living, breathing and mutating things. He believes words well stringed are the most potent of arsenals. He believes in Africa.
This article was first featured on Kikapu Africa and has been republished with permission. Kikapu is a creative collective with roots in East Africa which aims to highlight the aesthetics and creativity of both East Africa and the larger Africa’s social spaces. Kikapu is a fort of empowerment; a place for women and youths to come and revivify their self-worth, a place where they can be inspired by the conscious narrative on real African issues and realize ways to achieve their full human potential.
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