Being African is a gift God gave us.
In 2012 I was in America and a close female white friend told me ‘I wish I had your skin’. I said what do you mean? She said she wished her skin was black.
Around 2013 another beautiful ‘white/brown sister’ friend of mine said she wished she was African. I asked the same question that I’d asked the white sister earlier and she told me the same. She is from Lebanon. She told me that Africans like myself are beautiful, infact she wouldn’t mind moving to Africa.
You see I’ve always been a confident girl, able to articulate myself, as well as representing my truth even if it would be me standing by my idea in a room filled with people opposed to it, so long as it felt right to my conscience. But such affirmations from sisters from other races just made my confidence off the roof!
Infact growing up my brothers affirmed me so much. My brothers told me that I was beautiful when I was a kid such that I went about my early life thinking I was light skinned. Don’t be bewildered, don’t be shocked lol!
Because in my rural background and largely popular thinking of some Zimbabweans, beauty is often defined by being light skinned.
That bubble was busted by a male friend whom I set next to in class in form 3 way back in school. We were having a fight (arguing) and he told me that I was dark skinned that (hautozombo kangavire) no amount of ‘ponds’/vanishing creams would better my skin tone, ofcourse I protested I probably told him I was light skinned hehehe.
The background to it is that he was a little browner than me, and it was such a weapon used against someone especially darker skinned girls to remind them how ‘dark/ugly’ they were (because of their skin tone). Guess what, despite that at this stage in my life I had a little occasional crush on him, In that moment I could tell what a jack he was lol. I mean despising someone for their skin tone or color is so was!
As I’m writing reader I’m laughing, but this is stuff that you don’t forget, but they help you dispel such backward and ignorant labels as you become your own person defining your own beauty, life and identity.
I hope that you have defined or you are defining yourself according to your true Godly terms!
Many women, girls and sometimes boys or men are told this about their skin tone or something on their body that they can’t change.
Anyway I said to this white sister, why? And she told me she’s never seen so much beauty in her life as that of black skin.
I believed her because she was a Christian woman and we had a really great close friendship and I also lived in her home that time as I worked there as part of my leadership development programme that had taken me there.
While I later believed her, you need to realize the shock I got in that moment that as a black child with an actual dark skin coming from Africa, where that time a measure of beauty was being light skinned and hense others bleach, this was unbelievable coming from a white person.
But this is the truth they don’t tell you, that the African skin and all that comes with it so so beautiful those we envy wish they were us!
Africans come with all versions of beauty.
I must say I wasn’t too surprised because my early musician days I’d just gotten to the point in my life where I had self acceptance. A number of people I respected in the arts industry had helped me embrace my Africaness.
As a jazz artist singing gospel, it was around 2007 in my early 20s that I truly embraced my African looks of what they call a ‘round face, the round curvy body and husk singing voice’.
In finding my ‘Identity’ I reached the point where the first time I put on dread locks, while I loved them, I cared what others would say about me as a Christian young woman.
Indeed I met a guy in my church who kind of had vibes with me. It was at dinner he took me to when he uttered in no certain terms that he was confused on what kind of a woman to marry; one who comes with their natural beauty, or one who is toned down.
Unbelievable! Dear reader indeed you can imagine the level of puzzle I went through that this man had brought me to dinner (I was not yet as vocal hahaha); ‘fancy Surbab NANDOS’ and he’s telling me this uuum!.
Well believe me I went on to cut my locks that time hahaha, I’m nolonger sure if it was this guy’s comments that made me cut them, but I cut my young locks.
Well reader the relationship never took off with this church guy, it was the kind that liked talking to you over the phone morning, afternoon and evening without a defined relationship. It was when I asked him what we were doing and how he defined the relationship and he said we were friends, and I pressed on what type of friends who called each other at such intervals and sometimes odd hours and you guessed right, I protected myself (sigh).
It was a few months later that I became bold and decided that whoever will like/love me must embrace the package version of African that I became, the one where I feel in my best element with my natural hair in whatever it’s form at that time.
Infact going back to natural hair was a matter of being broke during this second attempt hehehe. I needed to fix my hair and was broke. I took the towel and did bush locks. Oh my word, I’d never felt so beautiful all my life! I had a deep sense of self acceptable.
It is my hair where I find my authentic self, maybe for you it’s something else.
After the bush locks I went on to grow back my locks and I’ve never looked back in loving my Afro hair in locks or most recently bald, ‘zuda and short hair’.
You know reader this story of confused identities and soul searching led me to name my 3rd musical album Zvatiri, which became a whole TV Show (Zvatiri/Umhlobo) which first went on air on ZBC TV in April of 2018 and went on to lead important conversations including those on human rights, governance and democracy for 2,5 years.
Zvatiri became a media company idea which is now called Identities Media Holdings, a content creation company that produces Tv Shows, documentaries, docu-series, films, movies, offers professional services such as live coverages of events etc.
The lesson dear reader is that of self acceptance and love, that you should love yourself the best you want and others must love you the way you want to be loved. You must accept who you are, zvauri such that people will be confident to love you just the way you are.
Being African is beautiful, its a blessing. I know of many African women who love different versions of
dark skinned guys and that’s beautiful.
I know of light skinned guys who prefer dark skinned black girls, and that’s cool. I know women who are like I want my man light skinned that’s cool too.
What is not cool is to think that there is a version of black better than the other. We are all beautiful in our own skin.
I want to invite you to begin to celebrate your blackness, and celebrate a sister or brother on their blackness. We become more human when we accept ourselves just the way God made us, when we affirm our folks, children and those that matter celebrating their original true form.
We uplift our tribe and humanity when we stop putting pressure on girls to be ‘yellow bone’, or when we shun women for choosing natural hair. We are our best as a people created in God’s lovely and original image when we embrace being African in our diversity.
Be the best version of what God made you by natural means not altering the color of your skin.
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Nyaradzo ‘Nyari’ Mashayamombe is a Human and Women’s rights expert, as well as a media entrepreneur.
Facebook: Nyaradzo Nyari Mashayamombe