Featured : Sandrine The Dream

Came across Sandrine on the interwebs and I admired her honest approach to creating without the intention of fitting in. A smart, kind individual bursting with talent and an opinion that not many people are very comfortable with hearing, reading or seeing. I appreciate voices like hers because they stand out without demanding too much attention. I think she has a lot of wisdom and to share.

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Meet Sandrine :

Being a woman of colour means holding a unique set of lived experiences, and having to rise above multi-dimensional forms of oppression. But more importantly, it means being a fighter. Living a colourful life, unlearning layers and layers of conditioning to find your essence. Growing, learning and finally, realising your unmatchable beauty and immeasurable worth and being indestructible and impossible to silence for it.

I hope to one day live in a world where being a woman of colour is celebrated from birth. Where our daughters and younger sisters never feel ashamed for their blackness, but feel proud and understand their beauty from infancy. Where every facet of our identity is reflected back to us in mass media.

My moodboard consists of melanin, a crooked smile and a dream that just won’t die.

Featured Work : DARK AND LOVELY

“(This piece formed the second part of the two-part series on my blog called “My Inheritance” and speaks about the features of mine that I have inherited from my mother and my battles with them all throughout my life.)

Wow (inhales, exhales). This one is bittersweet. I can write/speak about my experience being a dark-skinned Rwandan growing up in Cape Town for hours, and rest assured that I will probably blog again about this in the future, but for now I simply want to give thanks. My complexion is something that has been a part of me from birth. It has nothing to do with the season I was born in, or the harsh Cape Town sun. It is purely hereditary. My father is a light-skinned man, and my mother was exactly as dark as my older brother and I am. It is one of the most obvious features that we inherited from her.

In my opinion, saying I look like my mother is the biggest compliment anyone could give me. If you had ever met her you would know that she was the most radiant human being you would have ever met. On face value alone, she had the type of beauty that stuck with you forever, her skin resembled the smoothest charcoal, and was even softer. I remember after she would bath, my brother and I would run to her and stroke her skin, and she would joke that she was going to start charging for us to touch her skin. When out shopping, she would be stopped in malls and inside supermarkets by strangers who would compliment her skin and ask her what products she was using. It was wonderful to watch. My mother moved gracefully, she had a captivating energy about her, her smile was priceless and could cause a rock to soften. There isn’t enough space on this page to describe what a woman my mother was. My most valuable possessions were once hers, and I am not simply speaking about old photographs and items of clothing, I am speaking about my true inheritance.

I have battled with being so very dark-skinned for most of my life. I cannot blame myself, it was all conditioned in me through media and the still prominent idea in South African black culture that being lighter-skinned (especially as a woman) is more attractive. It was only my family, and other people that had come from other African countries that affirmed the beauty of my skin tone growing up. I was bullied for being dark for years in primary school, so much so that I had to go for counselling. In high school, I immediately adopted the label as “class clown” as a defence mechanism for this and other insecurities. I would much rather mock myself than feel the pain of being mocked by others. I honestly cannot believe what I allowed myself to believe. It did not help when some of the women I looked up to even started using skin-lightening creams. Imagine what that does to a vulnerable teenager? Skin-lightening in South Africa is such a problem. This forms part of the larger issue of colourism, which I will discuss in blog posts to come.

After a while, when I had come to terms with the fact that I was dark and it wasn’t like I was going to get any lighter, it became more about having imperfect dark skin. Dark skinned women have become fetishized in media, especially on social media outlets (for example, Instagram has dozens of pages for dark skinned black women), and one can argue that this is a form of representation and thus a step in the right direction, but I argue otherwise. Media depicts all dark skinned women in one way: tall, slender and with flawless skin. It makes it seem as though dark skinned women are immune to pimples, uneven skin tone, blemishes, spots, stretch marks, and so on. News flash: this is false. We happen to be humans too. My mother was one of the few dark skinned women I have met who had no flaw. Honestly, her skin was smooth and clear, soft and blemish-free. But as I speak about in my blog posts earlier, puberty hit me like a wrecking-ball. Throughout my teenage years, I had blemishes, and as a result, used dozens and dozens of different skin products with no result, which caused me to sink deeper into despondence and insecurity. I cringe at the amount of money I spent on utterly useless skin products that were simply not meant for my skin. It is only now that more make-up and skincare brands which cater for black women, and black women of different shades, are emerging, and at a more affordable price.

At my wits end, I took a friend’s advice and started using raw, natural creams and gentle face washes, with an occasional gentle scrub or mask. My skin slowly began improving. I can see this being a routine I can stick to forever. I am far from where I want to be, and am certainly not immune to the physical manifestation of raging hormones, but this entire epiphany and journey has taught me to be patient with myself and never neglect my skin. And the end it will all be worth it.

Invest in yourself. You deserve it. “

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Instagram: @kaapstadtokigali

Twitter: @sandrine_azania

Blog link: kaapstadtokigali.wordpress.com

Palesa

Creative Visual Expressionist.

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