…By that time Ambi had reached Limorog, and Beatrice thought that this would be the answer. Had she not, in Limuru, seen girls blacker than herself transformed overnight from ugly sins into white stars by a touch of skin-lightening creams? And men would ogle them, would even talk with exaggerated pride of their newborn girlfriends. Men were strange creatures, Beatrice thought in moments of searching analysis. They talked heatedly agaisnt Ambi, Butone, Firesnow, Moonsnow, wigs, straightened hair; but they always went for a girl with an Ambi-lightened skin and head covered with wig made in imitation of European or Indian hair. Beatrice never tried to find the root cause of this black self hatred, she simply accepted the contradiction and applied herself to Ambi with a vengeance. She had to rub out her black shame. But even Ambi she could not afford in abundance; she could only apply it to her face and to her arms so that her legs and her neck retained their blackness. Besides there were parts of her face she could not readily reach- behind the ears and above the eyelashes, for instance- and these were a constant source of shame and irritation to her Ambi-self….‘
Extract from Minutes of Glory in Secret Lives short stories by Ngugi Wa Thiong’ O.
This extract summarises a topic I have wanted to write about for so long; Black Self-Hate. And the point about the men- very true!
Hope you enjoy it and share your thoughts!