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A stumbling block hard as a rock
Go to the left, it leftens
Go to the right, it rightens
Climb, it heightens
Go underneath, it deepens
Just a matter of two steps
A thirsty walk on the road
Water just two steps ahead
Two steps towards, it moves two steps away
Is this a case of fate postponed?
Or far too close?
An allowance for life had always been made for really vicious people, who for too long had said the kind of things to helpless people which really applied to their own twisted, perverted hearts.
Those who spat at what they thought was inferior were really the ‘low, filthy people’ of the earth, because decent people cannot behave that way.
Excerpt from Maru by Bessie Head.
This book has been an eye-opener in so many ways, highly recommend it.
In Botswana they say: Zebras, Lions, Buffalo and Bushmen live in the Kalahari Desert. If you can catch a Zebra, you can walk up to it, forcefully open its mouth and examine its teeth. The Zebra is not supposed to mind because it is an animal.
Scientists do the same to Bushmen and they are not supposed to mind, because there is no one they can still round to and say, ‘At least I am not a —-‘.
Of all things that are said of oppressed people, the worst things are said and done to the Bushmen. Ask the scientists. Haven’t the yet written a treatise on how Bushmen are an oddity of the human race, who are half the head of a man and half the body of a donkey?
Because you don’t go poking into the organs of people unless they are animals or dead.
By that time, Ambi had reached Ilmorog, 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 girl-friends.
Men were strange creatures, Beatrice thought in moments of searching analysis. They talked heatedly against Ambi, Butone, Firesnow, Moonsnow, wigs, straightened hair; but they always went for a girl with an Ambi-lightened skin and head covered with a 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.
Excerpt from Ngugi Wa Thiong’o's 'Minutes of Glory', part of a collection of four short stories called 'To Stir the Heart', written by him and South African-born Botswana writer Bessie Head (two written separately by each author).
The story is based in the early 1960s during the time of the Mau Mau Uprising and Kenya’s independence from Britain, but in light of the recent reports of the growing trend of skin-lightening in parts of Africa and the stigma around natural Afro hair, this seems all to relevant, disappointingly so.