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Published On: Sun, Sep 20th, 2015

Bleaching: Symptomatic of Nigerian Problem

By Alex Osondu Atawa-Akpodiete
This week I was at a higher institution in America. As I was strolling down one of the streets, I was again impressed by the different shades of people. There were white, black, inter-racial, Asian and Indian students walking all over the campus. Their complexions were all natural and I could not see any appearance of chemical skin color alterations.
My mind went back to my beloved Nigeria. In fact, some weeks back, I was in an office when a middle-aged lady walked in. Her face was shining and very fair, but her knuckles were “speckled”. Unfortunately for her, I was seated and saw her very dark ankles. I was saddened and wondered who has deceived this woman and many Nigerian women that only fair is beautiful. What ever happened to “black is beautiful.”
We are still a nation suffering from the vestiges of colonialism. Although we gained our independence fifty-five years ago, we are still laboring under mental slavery. In fact, you only have to enter an office in Nigeria with an Indian, Asian or Caucasian to see the differential treatment that will be meted out to you and your foreign counterpart. Those of us that have studied and worked abroad know that no race is superior and we have all been created equal by Almighty God.
So, why are our women obsessed with bleaching? I should say that I have been informed that many men (and couples) also bleach, including Commissioners and Governors. Bleaching is a deceptive practice. If a man meets a young lady and she is “shining”, he may discover after they are married that she is actually darker than most Nollywood actresses used to be.
In a country where authenticity seems to be scarce, then these women may be trying to fit in. I should say that everyone is entitled to be attracted to people of opposite sex with a particular pigmentation or complexion, but it is an insult to Almighty God that created you, to want to artificially alter your own complexion. I will be bold to proffer that bleaching is in apposite to Christianity.
The late moonwalking American music star should be a written epistle on the vanity of thee surgical alteration of what God has created
It will amaze some Nigerians to learn that a few whites wish they were “darker” and patronize sun tanning salons to be more like us. Our dermatologist says that “It is a supreme irony of the modern age that while the dark-skinned races want to increasingly become “white,” the Caucasian woman desires to acquire a tan in the sunny beaches of Africa, Asia and the Caribbean in order to get a shade darker and appear healthier.” This just exemplifies further man’s insatiable proclivity for artificial “beauty.”
How does bleaching relate to the major problems facing Nigeria? We are sometimes concerned about just the surface solutions to our problem. You cannot bleach your inside and bleaching will definitely not change that primitive “igbotic” accent. Neither will it change your reasoning. In fact, those that bleach face some further unique problems. They smell when they are bleaching and try unsuccessfully to cover up with colognes and perfumes. Also, when they run out of money, their normal complexion returns, but in a damaged form. Of course, there is the skin cancer susceptibility. The following is from an article by Dr. Sylvester Ikhisemojie, published June 1, 2014 in Punch: “There is a lot of evidence to support the suggestion that bleaching may be a harmful process. Among the poor, what is frequently available are cheaper products that contain hydroquinone and mercurious chloride, both of which are harmful. The latter contains a heavy metal, namely mercury, which is slowly absorbed in the system with no hope of eventual excretion. A slow poisoning thus results with permanent injury to the kidneys, the brain and the heart. A failure of any of these organs has no hope of repair except by having an organ transplant. Even so, the brain cannot be transplanted. That is not to mention the initial damage to the skin that reduces its quality and its ability to protect the individual from simple injuries and microbial invasion. On the other hand, it is often frustrating to have to suture skin lacerations in the emergency room of a woman who has bleached her skin red or pink in an effort to become more attractive. The wounds take longer to heal and the eventual result of such healing is poor.”
As with bleaching, Nigeria does not need temporary and surface solutions to our problems. Some of the quick-fix solutions end up exacerbating our condition. We must dig inside and deal with our underlying issues of corruption, ineptitude, lack of meritocracy, visionless and rudderless leadership and the decline in our moral values.
Let us collectively work for a better Nigeria, while still maintaining our authentic selves. We need lasting solutions.
According to Dr. Ikhisemojie, bleaching “is thus a practice that needs to stop… As the maxim goes, a word is enough for the wise.”
Rev. (Prof.) Alex Osondu Atawa-Akpodiete, a public Affairs Analyst, writes from Washington. +2348138391661 (SMS) or Profatawa@gmail.com.

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