I am beautiful in my own skin

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Timothy Molobi
Timothy Molobi

This week’s tweet by Senegalese football player Krepin Diatta brought back some sad memories. Diatta took to social media, lamenting the fact that he had been mocked for “being ugly”.

This was after several fans had made fun of him over his looks.

He tweeted this in response: “I am very sad to see some African brothers making fun of me. I work for our beautiful and dear African continent, and what I receive in return are only insults, mockery from my brothers.

"This is too bad of you and racism comes from there. I need your encouragement and not your insults.

"Thank you to everyone who supports me. Only God makes my strength and I am proud of my physical person. Your mockery won’t change anything in my life. But one thing is for sure, we are all African.”

This took me back to my younger years, growing up in my village. I was used to being called all sorts of names – mnyamane, lefifi, darkie, mantsho. At the time it hurt to be called these names, but one tended to outgrow it.

However, it ingrained in me the thought that being dark is a crime in this world. Why are we, people of darker complexion, always at the receiving end of abusive behaviour by our fellow human beings?

What hurt most about this was that I did not choose to be dark and it was something I could not change and had no control over. It’s like when you are a student and you lose a girlfriend to a working person! You are hapless and helpless.

Krepin Diatta of Senegal during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Group C match between Senegal and Algeria at 30th June Stadium on June 27, 2019 in Cairo, Egypt. Picture: Visionhaus

I was born this way; there is nothing I can do about my colour. I was once stopped by police officers (some darker than me) on the streets of Joburg who demanded my identity documents asked me things in Sesotho or Setswana, just to check if I wasn’t a foreigner.

But me being me, I would tell them where to get off. I find this behaviour amateurish and discriminatory, particularly from fellow Africans. This is black-on-black racism, period.

At the end of the day beauty is not about physical appearance or your face, but your inner self.

Our real beauty lies within us and not in our appearance. Why do we like this “pull him/her down” syndrome as Africans? The majority of our people have perfected the art of pulling each other down.

Instead of celebrating each other’s success, many of us hurl names at those climbing the ladder of life. Why can we not we celebrate and accept each other as we are rather than go the insults route?

At first I thought this was apartheid mentality. Clearly not. If people in other parts of the continent, who have never experienced apartheid, could behave this way, then the issue is more than what I had assumed it to be.

This is one of the reasons we are not progressing faster as a continent, as we are preoccupied with pettiness. Let us change the way we think and treat each other as Africans – together, we can do it.

Big up to Diatta for confronting this issue head-on and not being shy to speak out. To him I say: You have risen above all odds; don’t let some worthless sods define who you are, just as I didn’t.

Follow me on Twitter @TimSpirit

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