Westernized versions of African. 

I was 11 or 12. I’m not really sure. But what happened will never be forgotten. 

We had just left Tanzania and came back to Kenya (This was one of the many ‘Back to Kenya’ trips I have made in my life) 

I had a full head of beautiful dreadlocks, they kinda reached my shoulders…ah.. They covered my ears and that was long enough for me then. 

I was proud of them.

Someone with ‘clever’ brains told my mom that the best school for me would be an all girls Catholic school.

Loool 

So off we went.

And the first thing I was told

You must cut your hair. 

………………………………….

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I looked at my mom. I pleaded with her using my eyes.

I already hated the school. Not the people, just the school and the system. I knew I was going to get into trouble because I wouldn’t fit in.. I’d be that odd one out. 100%, actually 300% I don’t do ‘normal’ scales.

But in the end, ‘clever’ brains won.

Guess what happened to my hair? 

My dreads died a sudden death and then the rest was relaxed. 

And I joined the other girls with their relaxed hair.

The only girl who didn’t have relaxed hair was a bi-racial.

And I remember one girl with a bandana because her hair was burnt by the relaxing chemicals. 

If you didn’t relax your hair it had to be in cornrows or blow-dried till its straight. 

We weren’t allowed to rock our natural hair just the way it was. 

It had to adhere to a certain image. 

I wonder whose image that was? 

…………………………

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Being African doesn’t just mean you were born here. It’s everything about you. 

How you pray, how you eat, how you interact, how you talk, how you think and how you look.

And most importantly your names. 

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The My mom named me Noni Palesa. All African names. 

My middle name was ‘forced’upon me.

It’s an English name. I actually hate it. 

I spent several years not even writing it on all my documents.

But when people ask me “what’s your name?” and I say Noni, they ask almost immediately 

‘You don’t have an English name? ‘

Duuudeee….  

No I don’t. 

Or ‘Are you sure? ‘

Were you the one naming me??

Did I ask you my name?? 

I’m not English. 

I’m African. 

Stick with what I told you. 

One person went so far as to write my bank details with my SECOND English name first and my African FIRST name second. 

I caused a scene. 😊😃

How happy I was when I was given the name Nurah! 

(Nurah is derived from Nur /Noor & is Swahili for light 😃)

I dropped ‘Lish’ like hot coal. 

(it’s short for Elizabeth 😩😒😞😷)

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We Africans are not yet African. We are still westernized versions of African. 

Think I’m just saying that? 

How many women still wear weaves? 

Go retouch their already relaxed hair?

Or try to go a skin tone lighter? 

How many of you still use your English names? 

Or give your babies English names??! 

Subliminal messages are everywhere. 
Look at the women on media.

Billboards. 

Magazines

Our news anchors. 

The fact is we still judge ourselves by western standards of beauty. 

It hasn’t ‘disappeared’. 

If it had we would see more of 

Curls

Afros

Braids

Dreadlocks

All shades of melanin including DARK dark.

African names.

But do we? 

No. We don’t. 

My psychology lecturer told us a story. She’s a beautiful woman by the way. The kind of woman I would quickly wife and cherish forever if I was a man. 

Her first boyfriend bought her bleach and told her that he’d only marry her if she used it. 

Yeah, she’s got that beautiful DARK melanin. 

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What are you thinking about now? 

Let me guide you… 

Your hair journey, let’s be honest.. We’ve all tried the relaxed look and the weave.

How about your skin tone?  Sunscreen so that you don’t become black? 😂😂😂 

Or have you tried the “Fair&Lovely” skin lightener cream? Dettol just released a new soap for that right?  Have you bought it?  Trying to see if you’d go a shade lighter? 

How come no one wants to go darker?????? 

What’s going on with your hair?  Still got that retouch appointment? 

Have you dropped that English name yet? 
………………………….

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Aside from the fact that most people in Kenya think I’m not Kenyan the most absurd question I get asked is 

“do you have white blood? Your features are very European”

Fuck no! 

Oops. Excuse my ‘french’

I’ve got my grandads features. 

And he’s that DARK dark melanin. 

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So when I get mad that Ms Africa Continent/Mama Africa is a white woman and I’m called racist I laugh. 

Okay. 

I’m racist. 

I’m racist for wanting the title to be held by a Black preferably that DARK melanin African woman with dreadlocks. Or an Afro. With an amazing African first name. 

I’m racist for wanting all little girls and all grown women to embrace themselves and become African. And LOOK African.

I’m racist for wanting African girls and women to have an African woman who looks like them and isn’t afraid of being African. 

Buh hambug!

✌ and 💜

P. S…  Berenice Craddock is #notmymotherafrica

The contestants were judged based on a portfolio of charity work. 

I’m soo sure the judges could have picked a black African whose portfolio was equally impressive. 

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3 comments

  1. mainagakere13 · January 24

    Join the club, i don’t have an english name myself. It’s good to embrace the African name and culture. We should be proud being African and forget the western culture.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nurah Palesa · January 31

      Thank you Maina 😊 encourage your sisters and brothers to shed off the western culture and embrace our true African authentic selves..

      Liked by 1 person

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