The Colours Within A Colour

Let’s talk about the cringing topic of colourism, also known as shadeism. It is slowly becoming a phenomenon that is hard to ignore. What actually triggered my thoughts regarding this issue, is a recent episode of Love and Hip Hop Atlanta, where one cast member is so adamant on transforming her skin tone from a dark shade to a lighter one because she feels rejected by the American audience. She feels that the audience, in particular, does not regard as her beautiful enough because she does not match the existing beauty standards of the music industry, being light skinned amongst other things.

She calls the black race hypocrites because we are the first to make crude remarks about darker shaded people, yet we are also the first to rebuke and judge the same people when they resort to lightening their tone. Colourism focuses on the ‘black’ race on a wider spectrum looking at all the shades between black and brown. I say ‘black’ because for whatever reason (perhaps the term black is understood to be derogatory and degrading, given to us people of colour by colonialists and former slave owners) some choose to identify as brown. Actually thinking about it, we must be the only race that has further divided itself in terms of color, especially in modern times.

Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi

Indians are also known to carry a different attitude to different skin tones; this is simply a matter of an existing caste system. It is believed that the lighter you are the wealthier your family and family name, the darker you are the poorer you are. The lowest caste members use to work in the fields, and performed hard labour in the scorching sun, that is opposite for the higher caste members. Region also plays a role, the north and south region.

Looking at African history, South Africa for example, we are divided into 11 ethnic groups. This division came upon during the colonial era in the form of what is known as indirect rule. This was a strategy employed by the minority, white Europeans, so that they could exercise power and ruler-ship over the majority Africans. This segregation meant that we were divided by the means of land and ethnicity. This is still very much apparent today, as we have the Xhosas who occupy the Eastern Cape, former Transkei area and the Zulu who occupy Kwa-Zulu Natal, former Zulu Land. However, these two groups belong, together with emaSwati and amaNdebele, to the same traditional group (I refuse to use the term ‘tribe’, because the term does not exist in any of our ethnical languages), the Nguni, but this division had to take place, because that was the only way the white man could manage his authority, in the form of divide and conquer. So, our division as a race has always been socially inclined, it is psychologically instilled in us.

Photo by Ogo

We can all admit to the fact that oppression still exists in today’s society across Africa and even in countries outside of Africa where black people reside. Every day forms of oppression include opportunities and equality, and for those reasons I do not blame those who believe that if they identify as something lighter they would be subject to the same opportunities and experience similar equality as their white counter parts. So much so, that we have then ventured to divide ourselves further within a race. I don’t think that most black people are aware that this is a form of oppression that stems from colonization. This kind is rather subtle and it is psychological, almost like religion. 

I think what puzzles me the most is the fact that I’ve never witnessed a whitening experience from a dark shade to a lighter brown shade, it almost always seems to be on the extreme side; looking like a white character. I presume this is where the negative speech about skin bleaching stems from. Does it mean that you completely dislike the brown skin, because you do not even try to measure to a lighter shade of black or brown, but instead you aim for a shade outside of the spectrum?

There is the whole melanin movement whereby black people conscientise towards celebrating darker shades of brown. But before that the light skinned woman was seen as more beautiful and accepted by society and within the black community. The light skinned girl therefore grows up with an unsolicited type of confidence that the darker skinned woman did not experience because society did not recognize her beauty as equal to that of a lighter skinned woman. This begins at a preparatory stage, unconsciously, perhaps from the white children that black children in mixed schools associated with. 

Photo by Jairo David Arboleda

But it disseminates into our adulthood, as what we adopt in our early ages grows and sticks with us, especially if society also supports it. So, here we are today with emojis that have different shades of black, and we have stop and compare which shade actually resembles my true shade, and no one ever chooses that last dark shade, because it’s ‘too dark’, but is it not as black as the others are? Are the lighter shades also not black? How does it even impact how others see you? 

Actually why is changing your skin tone even a consideration? My point is that it is silently ingrained in our psyche that our colour may be the root cause of the problem, as it was in history. But I am firm believer of changing or altering whatever it is you may not like about yourself, by all means, especially if you can afford it. I am not one to judge you.

However, I perceive small-scale social things like this as things that are subtle and subliminal but are also highly effective forms of oppression; they are ways in which black people continue to exercise the influence of colonization on our own race. We have to praise and applaud the whole recognizing melanin movement, because we need to abandon what we have been taught about color and honor each and every shade of black, this will ultimately result in a unified race that is undisputedly more powerful.

Photo by Nemo Hanse

Can Patricia De Lille Become South Africa’s First Female President?

It was through the intervention of women that former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was propelled to the country’s top position. The issue of women assuming the highest governmental position continues to be a thorn in the side of the world in general and Africa in particular. This seemed like it might be the case with former Deputy President Lungile Mlambo-Ngcuka, but it appeared that as soon as Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took the novelty of “first woman elected as President”, the commotion and excitement of a first woman president in South Africa died down. Only to be reignited in Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, but even in that case it was a clear matter of factional desperation other than the intention to install a woman into the top position.

The Republic of South Africa Flag

With elections just over the horizon. The question of, will a woman ever occupy this position in South Africa? Remains not only a relevant issue but an emotive one

Globally there is a need for a drastic paradigm shift to align the imbalance that no one is in doubt, has rendered politics dysfunctional, if not altogether pointless. The question that continues to baffle many, is the reason behind the exclusion of women in politics in a meaningful way, because many are the pundits that have dissected the matter but there is still no clear understanding why women always get side-lined especially in government influential positions.

Regardless of the fact that research proves over and over that the meaningful inclusion of women would propel government to a state of more productive governance. The evident reality is that there is a lack of political will to make this move. The question then becomes, if that is the state of affairs in Africa, how did Ellen Johnson Sirleaf manage to ascend the Presidency? It is understanding her ascent to the top political position that we might try to ascertain the chances of the only woman Presidential candidate in the coming South African National and Provincial elections and is the leader of the recently formed political party, The Good Party, Patricia De Lille.

Former Mayor of the City of Cape Town Patricia De Lille
(Photo by Simon Mathebula)

The answer to how Ellen Sirleaf Johnson became president is, WOMEN. In Liberia it is women that served as intermediaries between the rebels and government. It is the contribution of women that saw Charles Taylor being exiled. It is also the contribution of women that increased the chances, if not being the very reason of how Ellen Sirleaf Johnson became the first woman to be elected as a democratic president of an African country.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia
(Photo by Spencer Platt)

Being a brand spanking new political party, it is doubtful that The Good Party can propel Patricia De Lille to the country’s top position, but it is befitting to yet again, look at the issue of the potential of having the first woman president in South Africa. It will be curious to see if we women see the potential that Patricia De Lille presents, because the logical reasoning for women would be to garrison around her but suffice it to say that this logic hasn’t been the order of things in the past.

Patricia herself couldn’t be regarded as a personality that inspires hope. Looking at her background of crossing the floor from the Pan African Congress of Azania (PAC), to forming a political party, the Independent Democrats (ID) and then presenting it, in Abrahamic fashion to the Democratic Alliance, an organisation that hasn’t been too eager to prove that it has cut ties with its slippery past. One would be forgiven for not being overly optimistic on her candidacy. But regardless of her sparky and somewhat unpredictable personality, she has harboured a reasonable amount of discontent with the prevailing politics of corruption, and shows a level of integrity on her part as she was the whistle blower of the Arms Deal.

Regardless of Patricia’s shortcomings she has to some level stayed clean off of the prevailing culture of being “one of the boys”. Which, in my opinion has also added to the challenge of advancing women into influential positions. This culture is so prevalent that one would not need to look beyond key women within the African National Congress (ANC) and how they have time and again chosen the comforts of the boys’ club when championing women’s issues could have been more productive. But yet again, this is not an exclusively an ANC weakness. As such is the culture in other political parties and more robustly so within the corporate establishment.

What also does not give hope on Patricia’s Presidential campaign, is the lack of a coherent women structured movement to back her. Appreciating the unique case of Liberia, and how women have contributed to peace in other parts of the world, and many other cases, one of which being the shear force women were in the liberation of South Africa. It becomes logical to conclude that a woman President can only be realised when women back each other, especially in Africa. In acknowledgment of the hold that patriarchy still has on mainstream politics, and on almost any given social structure. Men can try to appreciate and propel a woman into power but they will always be impeded by experiential limitations, which boils down to the reality that men are not women and that they can never fully know what it is to be a woman and the challenges women face on a daily bases.

The women that have the greatest potential of realising that dream are those within the youth bracket presently, hence the inculcation of a proactive attitude is the bow that plays the violin. The installation of a woman President will most likely be the product of being proactive to this issue, other than being reactionary to some patriarchal sentiment presented as women’s empowerment at every instance there is factional uncertainties and political manoeuvrings within political formations.

It then behooves us as young women to self-enlighten on such events as the Liberian issue, and the many other events that have seen women advance the quality of governance. As, it is through such awareness and proactive attitude, that women will really begin to assume influential positions. 

The Union Buildings
The official seat of the South African Government and also house the offices of the President of South Africa. 

It is unfortunate that the candidacy of Patricia De Lille lacks the clear potential to spark a coherent movement that can meaningfully plant the seeds for women’s involvement, not only in politics but in every social structure. It would also not be prudent for young women to assume that her candidacy is devoid of lessons and potential. For the very reason that it yet again raises the issue of a woman President warrants a closer look and better scrutiny on how this seemingly colossal mountain can be overcome.

It is my strong belief that for women to assume influential positions, the greatest potential of this becoming a reality lies in women backing women, women applying their feminine energy on the distorted patriarchal construct. Women fully believing that regardless of the odds it is possible to overcome them, and most importantly, that women deserve equal input into affairs that directly and indirectly impact them.

It would be highly erroneous to assume that former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s ascent to the top position was some coincidental happenstance. It might seem so from observing its uniqueness and its seeming to be the exception from the rule. When viewed in conjunction with other events of similar bent, like how the involvement of women in peace processes have contributed to a favourable outcome, the power of a woman cannot be denied.

Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The Movie ‘Us’, Girl Boss Review

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Evan Alex, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Elizabthe Moss

Length: 2 Hours

Written, Directed and Produced by Oscar Winner Jordan Peele

Girl Boss Rating: 8/10

Jordan Peele

The thriller (well Jordan Peele claims it’s a horror – so it is a horror) we have been waiting for has finally hit South Africa’s cinemas. It officially made its debut at 8pm on the 23rd of March at selected Sterkinekor cinemas across the country. As you can imagine seats were limited, and that meant that they were quickly sold out. But if you missed this debut, don’t worry It will fully return in the next week, and that time it will be available for screening at all Sterkinekor cinemas nationwide. 

I love horror movies; the suspense just gets to me. This was no disappointment. In the past I have never built enough courage to actually go view a horror/thriller movie at the cinema, but this is freaking Jordan Peele man, a legend amongst many other black Hollywood directors, I had to book my seat, I had to show up, and I did.

‘US’ is a build up but not a sequel from his 2017 film ‘Get Out’ that Peele won a best original screenplay Oscar for. So you can imagine the anticipation surrounding this release, because damn, ‘Get Out’, we all thought was the one. It was just so brilliant, so genius, so well played, just a beautiful orchestration that played on all the human senses. That, I feel, is what makes a great thriller/horror film, a film that plays on our senses as an audience, particularly sensory deprivation.

Sorry, I got carried away…

Description

‘US’ follows a typical family of four on their vacation to Adelaide Winston’s beachfront family home, where she grew up as a child. What her family does not know is that she had a traumatic experience that has haunted her to the point that she went mute. Her family, oblivious to her traumatic childhood experience, just wants to fully get into holiday mode, but her fears quickly surface and that is when it all goes down. Her fears become a reality, and soon they are left fending for their lives.

Plot Twist – Spoiler!

A part of me likes it, but most of me hates it when there is a sudden plot twist in a film, particularly towards the end. Ambiguous endings are just the worst, but the end of this movie will have you questioning your intelligibility. There had to be an explanation released afterwards, because it’s genuinely a ‘what the fudge’ moment. The answer as to who really is the villain is based on perspective and that will require your introspection.

What I Enjoyed The Most

This film will have you at the edge of your seat throughout the entire movie. It is thrilling, exciting, anxious, hilarious, and scary all at the same time. Of course being a Jordan Peele movie, you will have a good laugh. I kid you not when I say that watching this film in the cinema will just add to the ‘fun’ of experiencing horror movies. The whole audience is with you, experiencing the same emotions with you, some more than others. Spoiler! I also loved that it does not have your typical heroic ending – you know where the good guys always win, although it might seem like it, but it’s not the case. However as I mentioned, you will be left to determine this on your own.

What to look out for

I would recommend that you pay close attention to Red’s narrative, from the second she says “once upon a time”, there are plenty of subliminal messages in her story, and this will help you get a better picture of the tethered version of the story.

But this is a definite must-watch because firstly ‘its freaking a Jordan Peele Production’, but more importantly because the true message of the movie is something we should all think about, although most of it is a fictional creation, but what really happened to the network of abandoned, underground tunnels across America… Oh, Peele alerts you about this at the start of the movie.

Watch the trailer here

Us- Official Trailer

The Girl From St Agnes: Girl Boss Review

Genre: Murder Mystery

Cast: Nina Milner, Tyrone Keogh, Jane DeWet, Shamilla Miller, Robert Hobbs

Seasons: 1 Season, 8 Episodes

Length: Approx 52 minutes per episode

Language: English

Director: Catherine Cooke, Cindy Lee

Girl Boss rating: 8.5/10

First Thoughts

A Phenomenal South African Production. In all honesty I was never prepared for this local production, I don’t know why but from when I started viewing it, I was already well and suited with my critical hat, but to my surprise, this series took me by shock. In my opinion it is by far one of our best productions, maybe because I’m really a lover of a good thriller / suspense production. I am crossing my fingers for a second season.

Description

Ms Ballard is utterly committed to solving this crime, which leads to her discovering many hidden secrets and agendas by the individuals (pupils and staff members) in the school or those who have close contact to the girl’s at the school. The series is layered with secrets, secrets that are slowly uncovered, basically leading to the questioning of every character, including Ms Ballard. I guess the tagline makes sense, ‘At St. Agnes, the only saint is in the name’, as all characters are more than just one-dimensional, they are multifaceted, and the suspense lies in disclosing everyone’s true motive.

Why you should watch ‘The Girl from St. Agnes’

If you are South African you will absolutely love the plot, especially the subliminal messages which can be deciphered as themes. The themes are dark but are relevant to our society. Bullying is a tragedy in the series and so is it in our society. Teenage sexuality, rape culture and misogyny are explored and scrutinized, which directly comments on our society. These are acts that are very much prevalent in both private and public schools. Social media is highlighted as a major concern, as a tool that can be negatively utilized to assassinate one’s identity, cyber bullying is a major concern in the global community as a whole.

What I Didn’t Enjoy

I only wished that there was a black lead in the series, it would largely engage and represent the audience that is in private school spaces.

Spoiler Alert!

Also, Lexi’s narrative would’ve been more powerful if her motives had been explored and actually revealed. Her ambiguous narrative is not gratifying as we are unable to identify with her personally.

Otherwise, big ups to this production, I honestly cannot wait to see more from this crew, also such phenomenal acting!

Girl Boss Movie Review: Captain Marvel

Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction

Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, Gemma Chan, Lashana Lynch

Length: 2hrs 4mins

Girl Boss Rating: 8/10

Marvel Comics is on a roll! I am not biased, and I will not contribute to the DC Comics vs Marvel Comics debate, but Marvel has me tickled and excited in this first half of the year. I absolutely loved Captain Marvel and I am eagerly awaiting Avengers: Endgame next month.

Description

Brie Larson plays a kick-ass extraterrestrial, female warrior from the planet Kree, who is eventually caught and tortured for information by the enemy Kree has been fighting, the Skulls. As the enemy tries to extract information from Brie, she starts to have memory flash backs, which eventually lead her back to Earth. She escapes from captivity and hunts the enemy, who saw in her memories that what they are looking for is on planet Earth.  This is where the movie starts rolling as Brie comes to find out that she was human born, Carol Denvers and was considered to have died on assignment working in the US Air force.

Official Movie Poster

On Earth whilst chasing the Skulls, Carol Denvers comes up against Nick Furry (Samuel L Jackson) who is working for SHIELD. They end up working together to avert a catastrophic war from taking place on Earth, and Carol Denvers essentially becomes the founding Avenger, Captain Marvel. Who Nick Furry can call when Earth is really in trouble.  We saw him call Captain Marvel at the end of the last Avengers Movie released 2018.  The movie has all the action you can expect from a sci fi action movie.

Things I Loved About Captain Marvel

I loved that there is a female lead, surrounded by other strong female characters.  Carol Denvers is not a sidekick of a male, although she reports to a male captain whilst she believed she was from Kree.  Her story-line is believable and so is empowering to women watching. I loved that her best friend, who was with her when they were trying to break into to the US Air Force as females, is black, and she also plays a strong character that flies spaceships; although we don’t get to know more about her history or character, she reminds me of General Okoye (Danai Gurira) and Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) in Black Panther. And off course with regards to representation, the movie also has Samuel L. Jackson as (Nick Furry). I also love that a woman wrote the script and directed the movie.

Things I didn’t like about Captain Marvel

It takes a while for the movie to really get going, you could miss the first 20 mins and still catch on just fine and not miss any essential plot/s.

Why you should watch Captain Marvel

  • It’s a complete stand-alone movie that doesn’t require that you should have watched other Marvel Movies, it doesn’t require you to have any knowledge whatsoever about other Marvel characters or Avengers.
  • It will make you a believer in the idea that you don’t have to lose your  “feminine” traits to be a kick-ass superhero and that women can be superheroes just as we are.  For some reason the world of superheroes is quite masculine.
  • It will definitely make you want to watch the Avengers Franchise, which I think is pretty cool.
  • I believe Marvel is not a “made-up” world, I believe these things do happen and will make you question reality and perception of power.