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Constantine Chiwenga bleaches, but why?

20 Mar 2018 at 13:34hrs | Views
We indeed live in a world of post colonial times; one can even add neo-colonial time frame: it means the African mindsets in some cases are still as manipulated as before. The mindset of most Africans internalized racism even after the liberations wars that have fought throughout the continent.  What stands out is the inherent wish to be as white as the former colonial masters' skin colour. The appeal for lighter skin has deep-seated roots in white racism Colonialization and Colonialism whereby the colour of your skin still remains a symbol of purity, political correctness, betterment of status and pure beauty. The African continent as a whole assimilated into the idea of whiteness of the skin as something to fight for and get, to posses and have it at all cost hence the alarmingly profit boom in the bleaching products globally. When they talk about global race demarcations are shifting around race and ethnicity: it actually means that those lines of demographics have shifted, more African people can be classified as of European origin just by colour skin and not gene make-up. For acceptance sake most Africans would rather they changed their colour for acceptance ever to fit into those colour definitions of good and bad: ugly and beautiful.  

The industry of skin-lightning products is the most lucrative industry globally that is also nearer to drug industry. By 2024 it is estimated that the sales of skin-lightning creams will reach a staggering 24, 2 billion dollars in profit alone. These skin-lightning creams are on demand in African and Asian countries than in America and European countries where they are produced. It is inconceivable how the growing markets trends in African are projecting such high demand of bleaching creams: by-products of past colonial times. They are products that are highly promoted by foreign investors because of the lucrative profit they generate mostly in the African continent. The markets know where the niche is: it is in those African countries that still think they are inferior with their black skins. Bleaching-cream-industry in the coming years could dwarf the coca-cola profit industry in the Africa markets alone.

Those skin-lightening cream and soaps perpetuate racism, white supremacy and anti-black racism. Because the black race is daft, I am sorry to say this, they do not see it as such. The skin-lightening creams are discriminating the very self of what you are supposed to be proud of. Hugh Masekela lyrics: "Ibala lami elimnyama ngiyazidla ngalo" this song is globally known: apparently in South Africa itself, the users of bleaching creams is alarming.  

Out of nowhere there was a wave of skin-bleaching frenzy again now in an independent Zimbabwe long after independence of Zimbabwe: post colonial classification of whiteness and beauty visited us all over again: the skin- bleaching scourge came back with vengeance. Ambi-Special had all those Bu-Tone, ponds products full of mercury and other carcinogenic traces were abolished or were never again permitted to be imported from South Africa. Skin lightning creams are a multi-million dollar industry that is sadly here to stay. The foreign industries and markets found a niche in black communities where they could make billions of dollars by making such creams and soaps: skin lightning creams that will assist the black race to get rid of their curse, their scars; they mean the black skin.  

Advertisements of skin-bleaching:
  • Get a cream-cleaner and more even skin with aloe Vera de-pigmenting cream
  • Get a flair and lovely skin by whitening beauty skin creams
  • Ponds white beauty creams
  • Remove skin scars (that is black skin considered as scars)
  • Get your darker skin lighter by using Dove products
  • "Dark out" White in"
  • Click LIKE: for fair skin: dark to light!
  • "White beauty"
  • "White Shiso"
  • "fair - looking - light skin in an instant" go for it!

The above advertisements are phrases containing buzzwords that generally suggest that people with darker skin are very unattractive and very depressed people: and because of the black skin colour they resent themselves. One of the shocking advertisements in Pakistan showed a grim-looking black woman glaring at the mirror until a celebrity: Zubaida showed up with a whitening soap named after her. Real beautiful people are white looking people: say goodbye to your dark chicken-skin.  A portray of a darker skinned college student was unable to answer a question while a white and lighter-skinned student was praised for being beautiful and intelligent.  Her black skin was a constant subject of discussion and jokers found their subject of entertainment adefices. Do you wanna be white: dark skinned people are associated with outdoor work?

The above products: bleaching creams and soap are the products that promise a different person in one's black life altogether. You are viewed as better and superior altogether if you are white and nearer to white accepted population.  Unfortunately this market knows its relevance and value in the post colonial demarcation of good-is-white and bad-is-black. It promises a life much more superior and more acceptable than a black person's skin colour.  Industries: innovative people have gone to India and South America to buy long human hair from Indian women for African markets. Some of the hairs will be straight weaves 20-inch- human hair, woven into wigs and some will be sold loose so that the retailers will buy those hairs for the purpose of hair-extensions artistically plaited into the costumers' short hair that is normally and naturally short.

 In a nutshell, if an Africa woman's face is "white" and has long straight "human hair" bought from Asia/India or America, which is the definition of beauty, then their kingdom came. Have you ever seen African women proudly gesticulating, throwing the artificial weaved-in long hair at her back: just like what white people do: this is exactly what blacks enjoy are proud of when they speak: consciously or subconsciously and forever throwing their long artificial weaved-in hairs back, a way of life for white people but wholly pathetic for Africans whose hair is otherwise short. Literally black women are emulating from whites women: act like them. Young women and old women: some women of all ages will only see themselves as beautiful if they are white in face-complexion. White skin is now the norm to define beauty: Our Zimbabwean women, some of them, will see themselves or define beauty if the hair is straight and not kinky Africa hair. Both in Zimbabwe and beyond the continent: worse still in West Africa, countries like Ghana and Nigeria: skin bleaching has become a culture in itself. The Africans denied themselves long back. Africans hate this African-black-birth-costume; to be precise the black-colour-skin all over their bodies: it is an abomination and it must be removed at whatever cost.

When we write articles giving advice about the dangers of these skin-lighting products, we are not doing it to spite our fellow Zimbabwean or are we body shaming. As a chemist, I have done some comprehensive research regarding skin-lightning creams. I discovered that the side effects may not be obvious in the early years of applying the creams and sometimes the capsules they take to make the entire body as white as a European has much more devastating effects in the health of the consumer of white-skin lightening products.  Later in life these products can cause serious irreversible diseases: cancers, renal failures, leukaemia is very common, and sometimes a complete collapse of internal organs altogether. There are situations whereby someone just dropped dead and in Africa, in most cases it is not possible to trace back the causes of death because of the costs involved.   

It is disheartening to see a photo of VP General Chiwenga's face, apparently bleached: very white. I would take it that the General did not bleach but  rather has a rare condition of a disease like that one of our Thriller Michael Jackson!  I cannot otherwise give and satisfactory reason why our good General Chiwenga could take bleaching creams: what for? Does he not have a beautiful wife at home: Merry Chiwenga? He is he not number two panyanga: has already been lined up to takeover in 5 years time as Head of State when Emmerson Mnangagwa has exhausted his one year as President. I cannot think of any reason why the Vice President bleaches, wants to be as white as Prince Charles of Wales. Was General Chiwenga not in the liberation war in Mozambique? What did we liberate in him if his mind still thinks that if he is light in complexion then you are beautiful and good-looking, better still almost nearer to the skin colour of Prince Charles of Wales. Did we not fight the very establishment to free ourselves from white supremacy and the British culture?  

The next step we need to take is to liberate ourselves in our minds that to be black is as good as to be white. We may have taken ourselves out of Rhodesia, but Rhodesian supremacy and its colonialism and colonial mentality never left our minds for once. We still believe in the white man for sure in many ways:  We talk rubbish and nonsense about evil colonialism, racism colonialism: evils that have manifested in subconscious bias against ourselves. inherently in us we love adore white culture and everything about white and European: Eurocentric. But by the night we talk about the liberation war that liberated Zimbabwe, we should be forever thankful to the likes of Chiwenga and Robert Mugabe.  Intrinsically Chiwenga wishes he was white: just as Mugabe who adored white British culture by watching cricket every Saturday to keep himself sane. Mugabe hated his black skin and his culture equally as Chiwenga. The fundamental difference between Mugabe and Chiwenga is that Chiwenga is turning himself from a Blackman to a Whiteman physically by using bleaching creams: whereas Mugabe never bleached: He cherished his nearness to the Monarch and it also confirmed his irrevocable love for British culture and Whiteness. No African even the British themselves, can easily get nearer to the British Monarch: Mugabe realized the privilege he had to dine with the Monarch, speak the high and clean level Queen's language with them that made Mugabe to think he was better than any African.

But if those who liberated us want to be skin-light like our white colonisers: what will happen to our future generation. When I saw Chiwenga's white, pale skinned face, instantly remembered,  in contrast, President Richard Morgan Tsvangirai: how natural he looked: a representative of a Blackman indeed. His wife Elizabeth, on the other hand, was on bleaching creams in as much as General Chiwenga is. We have these contradictions in our societies that will confuse the coming generations. Our children emulate from us, the good and bad habits we do in their presence, and they take them on board. Not so long ago I was watching Mrs. Elizabeth Tsvangirai's daughter's pictures on line.  All the comments were: "she is beautiful." She was too very beautiful, what disturbed me mostly in all those photos were her artificial skin colour and her artificial hair. Those two things removed all that was African about her. I really felt sad. All those comments saw the light skin and the artificial long hair that made the trick: beauty.

Our cause to fight skin-bleaching is undermined by our top leaders who are making day to day politics. Mrs Elizabeth Tsvangirai by virtue of being a spouse to late RM Tsvangirai, is indeed a leader too and a national mother, who should lead life that will be an example to the growing up girls. If our young girls; in cities and towns and rural villages see those long red nails of our female political leaders, they will want to emulate that too, and be like them too. But we need women who will do research in institutions of learning you cannot afford those long cutexed nails in a research institute. You cannot afford those long red nails if you work in scientific research institutions and hospitals. We want food securities and not long nails.  Growing nails is some extra civilisation emerging nations like Zimbabwe cannot afford. Those long nails are consumer items that impede investigative minds: poverty reduction need working hard in farming industry, so those cutex-consumers will not be able to work in farms and horticulture industry effectively because they are forever conscious of their nails, they must not break.

Our cause to fight skin-bleaching should go beyond blame game: we are not for body shaming per se. We should genuinely find reasons why young and old people deny themselves their skin-colour for white colour. Why would a woman/man risk so much health aspects of carcinogenic disposition? There should be ground-breaking research in psychology and in sociology: tell us why the African race has sunk so low as to still want to be white despite the fact we are independent states: all of us in the continent: and how we proudly fought for our independence and got it at last. They should inform us with sound reasons and how to inform the coming generation.  

We just hope that our younger generation do not emulate from the General Chiwenga with his skin-bleaching frenzy.  The America Black community are moving away from skin bleaching creams. We should be proud of our black skins, they say. When Angela Davis formed the movement that taught the blacks in America that to be black is something you should be proud of we thought it was a cause that will take a long time to realise. America African-Americans have discovered themselves all over again. We shall ask the younger voices like the one of Chamisa, Mahere, Mqondisi, Lumumba and all of them young Turks in politics to push the Angela Davis movement forward: Say it loud: We are Black and Proud! Are you white and proud really,  knowing that your gene make-up is otherwise of a black-African through and through?

Nomazulu Thata is an active politician in German main stream political party and a research fellow at Bremen University: however never forgot her motherland for once. She can be contacted at email: Nomazulu.thata(at)

Source - Nomazulu Thata
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