Skin-Bleaching: Ghanaians Celebrate “White” Sores

Wed, 11 May 2011 Source: Mensema, Akadu N.

*By Akadu Ntiriwa Mensema, Ph. D.

The color complex

Our collective illusion

Our contagion of beauty

Our chassis of inferiority

Our lingering myth of self

Our victimhood of identities

Our hallucinogen of whiteness

Ma Color

Toxic identity

MA Color

They call it Ma’ COROR


They call it ME BLONI

Only your COROR

Only your skin

Oh! Me Broni

Ah! Your aquiline nose

Hmm! Our bulbous nose

Ah! Your thin lips

Hmm! Our thick lips

Ah! Your wavy hair

Hmm! Our knotty hair

Me Broni

Your aquiline nose

Your thin lips

These we can’t buy in Makola

These we can’t buy in Kejetia

These we can’t buy in Kotokroba

Ah! Your supple white skin

Ah! Your supple wavy hair

These we can buy

Creams in gallons

Chemicals in barrels

Horse hair in sacks

In Makola

In Kejetia

In Kotokroba

Bleaching in contours

Forehead bleached

Eye province remains black

Cheeks bleached

Nose protectorate remains black

Neck bleached

Ear polity remains black

Kaleidoscopic skin

Permanently chameleon-ed

Black skin here

White skin there

Layers of confused identities

Ghanaians seek whiteness

Me buroni

Our nursery rhyme

Ah! The best comes from the West

We want whites’ skin tone

So we burn our skin with creams

We want whites’ wavy hair

So we use horse hair

We want whites’ accents

So we break our noses

Hey, I see them trudging to work

Bank tellers






Bleached and sweating blood

Dry patches of skin

Like a crocodile’s skin

Sweat on a bleached skin

Like vapor from the Korle Lagoon


They have ma color too

They have Alata-soap color

Their white-stained faces

Faces chapped

Chapped in white-only acidic soaps


Mother Ghana,

I saw them

Your Children

Both men and women

With facial sores

No Mother, it wasn't

Not from war, no,

Not from famine, no,

Not from skin disease, no

No! Not from drought

Mother Ghana, it is, Ma Color


Ah! Parched skin tones

Ah! Horse hair

Soaking in chemicals

Wearing creams

Besmeared with chemicals

Wearing acidity

Peeling off blackness

Hurray, we celebrate “white” sores

*Akadu N. Mensema, Ph. D., is a nationalist Denkyira beauty. She is a trained

oral historian cum sociologist and Professor in the USA. She lives in

Pennsylvania with her great mentor and teaches Africa-area studies at a college

in Maryland. In her pastime, she writes what critics have called “populist

hyperbolic, satirical” poetry. She can be reached at akadumensema@yahoo.com

Columnist: Mensema, Akadu N.