Colourism: A Conversation
The 25th of May, 2017, was filled with many firsts for The 25 May Movement. Not only did we celebrate our first birthday, we also set out to Chez Zandi Bistro to host our first ever 25 May Movement event. As our goal is to educate young minds about Africa, we believe that the best way that we can continue to grow as Africans and to shed away the stereotypes that have plagued us for centuries is by speaking out. We needed to let young African minds voice their thoughts and come to understand who they are and why they are. We need to let young Africans tell the narrative. With that thought in mind, our Conversation Circle was born.
“Close to home…I loved it.” – Chido Ranganayi
“You’ve changed people’s hearts. I’m amazed.” – Chenesai Mukora-Mangoma
6 Lessons we learned from Colourism: A Conversation:
- Tell the narrative
Wadzanai could not have been more right when she said that the only way we can truly change African minds is to “tell the narrative” – and more specifically our own narratives. As the conversation flowed and ideas bubbled to the surface, it became staggeringly evident that the reason that Colourism is not taken as seriously as it should be is because we do not have enough people that decide to tell their narratives. Are you going to tell yours?
- Change is an active process
It hadn’t really been obvious to many of us that although we were all pioneering for change – we hadn’t really done anything active in changing colourism. “It starts at home”, fashion designer, Chenesai emphasised. Small things such as actively reminding people of why there skin or hair is precious can go a long way. Think of it like the butterfly effect where small changes can have drastic effects – you can be the change that sets off a revolution.
- Colour is symbolic
Colour clearly means more than “you are too dark” or “you are too light” – it is directly linked to the social conflict that resulted from white supremacy. In Shona for example, the word dark is known as kusviba, a word that can also mean dirt, night or darkness. When a person is therefore referred to as dark, they are therefore associated with dirt. Whereas kutsvuka means the complete opposite. The lighter you are, the closer you are to “whiteness” or cleanliness and wealth. It seems that our labels are doing more harm than good.
- The Media plays a vital role in the way that we see ourselves
Because of the technological advancements in many African countries, more specifically Zimbabwe – more of us have access to social media and television, a lot of which is westerly dominated. This in turn has an adverse effect on the young African that is trying to find themselves in the midst of a world where they are misrepresented or not represented at all. “I feel like I can’t imagine anything that isn’t white-washed” Tapiwa said, expressing her growing concern over the fact that many books, movies and music videos either have very few and minor cast dark skinned people . This wreaks havoc on an African’s self-esteem and so to change this we have to tell our narrative.
- it’s not about race vs race
Colourism is not a struggle between races, rather, it’s a struggle within a race where a certain complexion is deemed more favourable b the members of the race. If we can create colourism, we can erase it too.
- Loving oneself goes deeper than the individual
As Malcom X put it “you cannot hate Africa and not expect to hate yourself”. Only when you start loving your continent and your race can you start to love yourself – be proud to be identified as Zimbabwean or African.
It is our greatest pleasure to say that this conversation was more of a success than we ever believed possible. None of this could have been done without all the amazing people that attended the event so as The 25 May Movement; we would like to thank you dearly for our continued support.
Don’t forget to Tell The Narrative.