Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Africa: Where Black is no longer beauty

Africa: Where Black is no longer beauty

By Aipu Adoba

Black, they say, is beauty. But this profound truism may not have enjoyed wide acceptance after all. At least, not to some Nigerians who have chosen to alter their natural dark look in preference to lighter complexion. It reminds one of Jame Aggrey, the Ghanaian poet and politician when he declared, “l’m proud of my color.” In utter disdain for the white supremacists, and to underscore the black man’s inalienable right to self-determination  Aggrey had intoned, “Anyone who is not proud of his color is not fit to live. “

But the desire for light skinned color by black Africans is rooted in neo-colonialism.  A product of mental servitude orchestrated by western capitalists through highly persuasive media advertisement by the cosmetic giants deeply rooted in media messages that tend to portray the white as superior skin.  Only recently, Fair and White,  a cosmetic giant that manufactures skin lightening product held a beauty pageants for Skin-bleachers named ‘Nigeria's Miss Fair & White Pageant in Nigeria, world most populous black nation. The urge among Africans to become ‘white like’ is so pervasive that even Aggrey’s Ghanaians today spend as much as $3,000 to procure ‘Half-Caste’ babies through a scientific method called vasectomy, a trend that is fast becoming a status symbol. The process requires implanting white male sperm to fertilise the black female egg.
The Ghanaian experience is captured in the recent report of reports. According to the online publication, “In Ghana, they are regarded as hotcakes. Their complexion put them on a fairly higher pedestal, as they are the ones every guy or lady craves to date - the half-caste! But ever thought that a time will come for half-caste babies to be bred in Ghana? Well, thanks to modern science, one can have a half-caste or mixed-race baby without necessarily having to marry or have sexual intercourse with a person of different race.  Following in the steps of artificial insemination, a novel venture to create a new society –‘Half-caste World’- on the African continent is bourgeoning in Ghana’s capital, Accra”.

The half caste phenomenal has rudely diminished the African pride of black as beauty. But not just in Ghana, even in Nigeria where the quest for white complexion skin by some people has led to outright bleaching. So, worrisome it was that the ministry of health at one point decided to campaign against the bestial habit by highlighting the danger it poses to victims especially, when they are required to undergo medical surgery. 
The habit of skin bleaching cut across sex. It is found in both men and women alike. While it is still prevalent among women of low social status, it could also be found among the highly placed in the society. But the question is why are people bleaching? What are the motivations and the implications?  
Communication theorists have tried to explain media-audience reactions within the context of media message-channel-audience response. It explains how media contents influence audience behaviour, which provides a clue as to the question of why people bleach. In Nigeria and indeed many African countries, advertisers have had to employ the sex-appeal on televisions as one way to gain the heart of fashion inclined men and women.

The trend is driven by the media as light skinned women are portrayed to be more beautiful and adorable, Lupita Nyong'o a popular Kenyan actress who leaped to limelight in an award winning movie titled “12 years a slave” had her picture photo shopped in Vanity Fair magazine such that she looked several tones lighter than her original self. Such a celebrity is a ready choice for advertiser and models, and is often used to endorse beauty ads.
According to a research carried out last year by the WHO, 77 percent of women in Nigeria use skin-lightening products, the world’s highest percentage. The figure compares with 59 percent in Togo, and 27 percent in Senegal.
The report said in many parts of Africa, lighter-skinned women are considered more beautiful and believed to be more successful and likely to find marriage. It also said it is not only women who are obsessed with bleaching their skins. Some men too are involved in the practice.
According to Dr.Robert  Inalegwu   ,a dermatologist who spoke with The Nigerian Times also said skin bleaching comes with hazardous health consequences. The dangers associated with the use of toxic compounds for skin bleaching include, blood cancers such as leukemia and cancers of the liver and kidneys, as well as severe skin conditions. She said hard-core bleachers use illegal ointments containing toxins like mercury, a metal that blocks production of melanin, which gives the skin its colour, but can also be toxic.
Despite all the side effects of bleaching cream, skin bleaching is still on the rise. The Nigerian Times decided to find out from a cross section of Nigerians why they bleach.
Before and after picture of Dencia, who rose to fame after releasing whitenicious, one of the most controversial bleaching creams ever to be sold in Africa

According to Ndidi a health worker in Abuja, “80 per cent of Nigerian men are attracted to light skinned women, as a result Nigerian women are inclined to bleach,” She said. But, Phoebe and Ifedolapo would not agree with Ndidi. As far as they are concerned, it’s as a result of inferiority complex.
Mrs hannatu Wakawa  a fashion designer believes most Nigerian women bleach because of the wrong perception that it makes them more beautiful and attractive.” I think they do so based on their erroneous perception that if they bleach their skin to become fair in complexion, they will look very beautiful. Such women must have beheld other women of fair complexion that are beautiful and want to be like them,” She said.
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) approved only 2 per cent of chemicals such as mercury and hydroquinone in cosmetics products. But then, a careful examination of some of the beauty products in the market contains far more than the approved percentage.
 Uchenna Emeka, a cosmetic dealer in Wuse market, Abuja, said most customers would pay anything to have beauty products with a high percentage of any of the above bleaching chemical.” Many of my customers are not satisfied with cosmetic product that has just 2 percent of bleaching agent, they insisted on getting the ones with higher percentage because they work faster,” Emeka said.
Despite the serious and well known side effects of bleaching creams, most users in their blind quest for beauty remained undeterred. Africa and indeed Nigeria may not be sharing in the joy of ‘being black’. Yes, many are eager to shout how proud they are to be black, yet some would do anything to look ‘white’ while claiming black. Bleached skin does not end with health side effects alone but transmit the lack of core values of blackness. The tale of colonialism, slavery and apartheid   which ought to bind black Africans to their cultural heritage is rather been eroded. It is heart breaking that the Blackman is revolting against its own ancestral heritage by himself. Many have described this as the sign of the time, when the black is no longer beauty.

Friday, 17 January 2014


How to unwind after a hard day’s work or a tough week at school are never ending questions plaguing the Nigerian public. The question holds merit especially here in the F.C.T. Apart from Silverbird (Ceddi Plaza is in the same category), Wonderland and a few lesser known arcade game spots, there are really no entertainment venues in Abuja. If you are not a fan of parks and Abuja’s numerous eateries, you may be hard pressed to find something to do. But don’t worry thrill seekers, there is something quite unique that has come to Abuja and it is called paintball. The technical jargon first.

paintball is a combination of “tag” and “hide and seek” but is much more challenging and sophisticated. The object of the game is to ‘mark’ your opponent with paint that is expelled from a special air powered equipment, thus signifying their elimination form that round of play. Referees start and stop the games as well as enforce the safety rules and game regulations. Like a game of chess, being able to think decisively is what gives each player the edge. Physical size and strength are not as important as intelligence and determination. A paintball is a thin-skinned gelatin capsule that is non-toxic, biodegradable, water soluble and rinses out of clothing or off skin with just water.
The exciting thing is that it is here in Abuja. Alpha Games, the company spearheading paintball’s incursion in Abuja, has its arena located at Hotel Dabras, Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse 2. Set on a sprawling field, I was impressed by the facility, game equipment as well as the organization of the place. On visiting the site this past weekend, I had a chance to not only play but talk to the manager, Dangana Ndakotsu. He stated that the company opened its doors in October, 2013 and has rapidly expanded its customer base. He cited Alpha Games online presence, a dearth of entertainment venues as well as word of mouth marketing as driving forces behind new and repeated customers. “We wanted to do something innovative that was fun as well as unique. On choosing paintball we found both. I think we are the first paintball arena in the north and the second in Nigeria.”

Two teams getting ready to face each other
This game is not for everyone. The age range is from 12 and above. But kids don’t be too disappointed; Alpha Games is currently including a shooting range that is open to the younger audience as well as those who want to test their shooting skills.
Before playing the game, players are fitted with a coverall, chest protector, hand gloves, neck protector, and a mask. Customer protection and safety is foremost in the game as paint balls tend to travel at an average speed of 270 fps (feet per second). A referee goes over the rules of the game to make sure everyone knows the aim safety precautions. Each typical game lasts for twenty (20) minutes. Alpha Games is running an opening discount, with tickets starting from 2,000. There is also an option to buy an additional 100 pellets (bullets) for 1,000 .

My own critique of paintball is that it is a fun and wholesome game for the whole family. Although the paintballs can sting, if all the proper safety equipment is worn and all rules followed, you will thoroughly enjoy your experience. There are even multiple game plays to choose from that comprises of different scenarios and team objectives.
A few tips to know before coming to play. Come with sneakers as there is a lot of running. You also want to come with a group of people. The more the merrier. The maximum the field can take at a time is 16 people. The manager also advised customers to book on the phone as there is always a waiting list.
Take it from a journalist who shot a couple of people, if you are seeking for a thrill this weekend you should definitely consider stopping at Alpha Games.

House Committee warns Nigerians against Cyprus International University

The House Committee on Diaspora has warned Nigerians on the dangers of sending students to Cyprus International University, Nicosia, North Cyprus, as one Gabriel Soriwei recently died as a student in the University under mysterious circumstances.
Abike Dabiri-Erewa

The House Committee Chairman on Diaspora, Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa who made this known in a statement Wednesday, January 15, 2014 also said the recent move by the authorities of the University to lure Nigerian students despite the way Gabriel was treated is suspicious.
According to the statement, Gabriel Soriwe, 20 years old, was a student of Electrical and Electronics at the University when he was killed. The institution alleged that he was knocked down by a female drunk driver in July 17, 2013 but connived with the North Cyprus Police to release and shield the identity of the driver from the family. His corpse was callously sent as an unaccompanied cargo to the grieving family without any belongings.

This is apart from Bayelsa born musician, Stanley Ateino who was murdered on August 12, 2013 because of a disagreement with a white student over a girl in Nicosia.
According to Dabiri-Erewa, from all indications, studying in this particular University is not safe in and Nicosia North Cyprus in general is dangerous for our students. ”
The team from the Cyprus International University held a seminar at Rockview Hotel yesterday, January 14, 2014 to convince prospective Nigerian students and are currently heading to Kaduna, PortHarcourt and Uyo.
The statement disclosed that they left out Benin and Bayelsa because Soriwe is from Benin and Stanley is from Bayelsa State. North Cyprus is not recognized by Nigeria and all other countries in the world except Turkey.

Meanwhile Nigerian Times reported earlier that the Director, International Office of the University, Patrick Douse has apologised to the family of the deceased for the way the university handled the incident, noting that the institution had put in place measures to prevent a re-occurrence of such mishap in the future.
The director was making a presentation for prospective students in Abuja on Tuesday when Mr Fidelis Soriwei a member of the family of the deceased, tabled his family's grievance, particularly the refusal of the university to bring Gabriel's killer to justice.
According to Douse, “the CIU director said the political situation in the country was being resolved, adding that there were about 700 Nigerian students at CIU whom he said are doing well.
"In every city in the world, people have accidents, but that doesn't take away from the fact that the family is grieving. On behalf of the CIU, I apologise for the incident. We have put in place measures to ensure that we respond appropriately to incidents affecting our students in future." 

Tuesday, 3 December 2013


Victor Olaore Omoshehin is the National Secretary for Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWAN), on this year’s World AIDS Day, he told Ndidi Chukwu that  living with HIV is beyond the intake of pills, but being knowledgeable of how to manage self.

What is NEPWAN and what do you do?
Network of People Living with AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWAN) is a coordinating body for people living with HIV in Nigeria presently we have 1, 030 support groups across the country and we have state chapters in the 36 States including the FCT. We have six geo-political zones offices where they coordinate the State within the zones. In NEPWAN we have membership of over 300,000 that is people living with HIV that have identified themselves. Actually we know that there are about 3.5 people in Nigeria living with HIV, but only 600,000 thousand people are on Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) we just have half of this population which is 300,000 that have identified themselves with the support group of people living with HIV in Nigeria. It is not everybody who would want to be identified with the support group, people who are in the grass root communities are people that really need to get information, meet each other and get the support they need.
Discrimination happens to be the reason why these people would not want to come out, how can they overcome this fear?
You are right, stigma and discrimination and fear of the unknown is one of the barriers that hinder a lot of people from identifying with the group even accessing treatment, a lot of people test positive and still hide themselves in the house, some deny accepting their status, I met a girl last week, her mother brought her, she tested positive 5 years back but since then she was in the church, she gave her life to Christ, repented and maintained that she was not positive, but the fact is that she is HIV positive. There are a lot of people like her, aside from religious factor so many people would not want to accept that they are positive and start taking medication. It is a big challenge, people need to fight self stigmatization, accept themselves and live positively by taking the available treatment, so that they can protect themselves and their families, and help Nigeria to reduce the spread of the virus. It is so alarming that Nigeria remains the second country with the highest burden of the epidemic in the world. It should not be a record that we should be celebrating.
Are the ARTs really made available to your members?
For us, treatment is far beyond giving people living with HIV the pill, and testing somebody and telling the person to come back because the CD4 count is high. It should include psychological counselling, nutritional counselling and telling the person what he or she needs to know, and how to get access to screening for Haplites B, TB, Malaria, CD4 count screening, viral load screening and letting the person have access to the treatment of these diseases early. If a pregnant woman tests positive to HIV she should have a place where she can have access to counselling against mother to child transmission, where the baby can be prevented from contracting the virus and the mother gets the treatment. There are so many options that are embedded in treatment; it is not all about the pill. In Nigeria everybody is just interested in the pill but sometimes when you go to hospitals you discover that the CD4 count machine is faulty they can’t check your CD4 count to know if you are eligible to take the ART, so many hospitals don’t have viral loads testing machines, and so a lot of people don’t know their viral load test. We are using this medium to call upon  the Nigerian government to be more committed to the response actually about 75 percent of the funding for HIV treatment in Nigeria is donor driven, let Nigerian government take ownership of the intervention, it should be their own project. The funding and treatment options need to be domesticated. Our government should take the responsibility it is there’s.
How can a person living with HIV come out from self discrimination and disclose status to people?
The first thing I would advise anyone living with HIV to do is to accept the status, and come out of self stigmatisation. Disclosure is of different stages, you don’t have to be mad like myself who can go everywhere to say I have HIV, there is partial disclosure, routine disclosure and full disclosure, and they are gradual stages. Partial disclosure is the one you tell your spouse, family members or your religious leader because you need care, and need these people to understand you and be there for you. You just tell them that you are positive without evidence, you observe them if they start misbehaving you can come back and tell them it was a joke. Routine disclosure is what you do in the clinic because it is mandatory for you to disclose your status to your care giver either the doctor or the nurse taking care of you. So they can know how best to take care of you. Full disclosure is when you pass the other two stages and boldly say you are positive, and everybody is aware, routine is very important to all Nigerians living with HIV, many people would not want to disclose their status to their doctor, and the man will be treating something else when they know what is truly wrong with them.  You need to let your family members know about your status, especially your partner so that the virus will not be contracted. So many people in Nigeria are at risk because they don’t know their status yet. Knowing your status is the only guarantee that you are negative and you will be taught how to remain negative and those who have done the testing once and are vulnerable to infections are still at risk until the test certifies them negative. Testing has to be routinely.
Between men and women who opens up easily about their status?
With my experience as a field worker, I give kudos to women, most of the women easily disclose to their husband than the men. Many do not care about the consequences, but they open up early to save their partners from getting infected. 8 in 10 men who are infected would not disclose to their wives until the women contract the virus and the women still forgive. A man infected his wife in Kogi State until their child became infected too he could not tell his wife about it. Men really need to be open at this point.
Could you just make a call to the National Assembly on the pending anti-stigma/discrimination bill?
Onbehalf of the 3.5 million people living with HIV, I call on the legislators to accelerate the passage of the anti-discrimination bill, it is long overdue, it is the people’s bill and we have been on this since 2006. People are being ejected out of their houses, job and marriages because of their status. People are denied employment while others are kicked out of their jobs if the bill is passed, this can be controlled. We can use it as a legal toll to seek for justice and redress.



Sunday, 1 December 2013


HIV-related stigma and discrimination come in many forms and pose some of the greatest challenges of the epidemic. They affect a person's ability to access education, care, support and treatment.

"HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so you can shake their hands and give them a hug: Heaven knows they need it." -Princess Diana


World closing in on Millennium Development Goal 6, globally the AIDS epidemic has been halted and reversed—race is on to reach universal access to HIV treatment.
Declining new HIV infections in children
New HIV infections among adults and children were estimated at 2.3 million in 2012, a 33% reduction since 2001. New HIV infections among children have been reduced to 260 000 in 2012, a reduction of 52% since 2001.
Fewer AIDS-related deaths 
AIDS-related deaths have also dropped by 30% since the peak in 2005 as access to antiretroviral treatment expands.
Progress in antiretroviral therapy
By the end of 2012, some 9.7 million people in low- and middle-income countries were accessing antiretroviral therapy, an increase of nearly 20% in just one year. In 2011, UN Member States agreed to a 2015 target of reaching 15 million people with HIV treatment.
More investments 
Despite a flattening in donor funding for HIV, which has remained around the same as 2008 levels, domestic spending on HIV has increased, accounting for 53% of global HIV resources in 2012. The total global resources available for HIV in 2012 was estimated at US$ 18.9 billion, US$ 3-5 billion short of the US$ 22-24 billion estimated to be needed annually by 2015.
In 2012, an estimated:
  • 35.3 million [32.2 million - 38.8 million] people globally 
  • were living with HIV
  • 2.3 million [1.9 million - 2.7 million] people became newly infected with HIV
  • 1.6 million [1.4 million - 1.9 million] people died from AIDS-related illnesses
  • 10 goals for 2015

    • Sexual transmission of HIV reduced by half, including among young people, men who have sex with men and transmission in the context of sex work;
    • Vertical transmission of HIV eliminated and AIDS-related maternal deaths reduced by half;
    • All new HIV infections prevented among people who use drugs;
    • Universal access to antiretroviral therapy for people living with HIV who are eligible for treatment;
    • TB deaths among people living with HIV reduced by half;
    • All people living with HIV and households affected by HIV are addressed in all national social protection strategies and have access to essential care and support;
    • Countries with punitive laws and practices around HIV transmission, sex work, drug use or homosexuality that block effective responses reduced by half;
    • HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence eliminated in half of the countries that have 
    • such restrictions;
    • HIV-specific needs of women and girls are addressed in at least half of all national HIV responses;
    • Zero tolerance for gender-based violence.MORE INFO

Wednesday, 27 November 2013



It is not every day that we come across people who reach out to the needy with a good intention. In a world like ours where personal gain is the order of the day, it’s extremely hard to see people doing good things for the love of it. Most people do good because they hope to gain publicity and wealth. It is even more difficult to see young people these days engaged in helping the needy. All our youths are after are fast cash and luxuries of life.

As a result, I decided to share this inspiring story with all my readers out there. It’s unusual for a beautiful young barrister to decide to celebrate her birthday in a way that can be termed “un fashionable”. The Lady in question goes by the name Barr. Fisayo Aransiola. Of all the glamorous places she could have gone to celebrate her birthday, she chose an NGO that serves as a rehabilitation center and caters for juvenile delinquents, abused and trafficked girls who may have been exposed to harsh ways of life.
Worthy of note is the joy and sense of belonging that these girls felt. This little act of kindness by Miss Aransiola gave their self-esteem the much needed lift.  In her opening speech she charged the girls to believe in themselves and not allow themselves to be taken advantage of by men. She also urged them to forget their past and focus on their future, that there is a new dawn for everyone. 

Akinlolu Timothy Kehinde (SAN) who was present at the event commended Miss Aransiola while urging the girls to take a righteous path and always believe in God. Fela Bright from Steps to Life...Nig. also shared his personal experiences in life with the girls. He talked about lessons learnt from past mistakes. But which he did not allow to destroy him, from which they too can draw inspirations. He encouraged them to be obedient and chart a new course in life.


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