Write your own article idiot!
error: Content is protected !!

Thursday, September 3, 2020


 Join Our Groups


Schemes of Work 2024

English Course - Free

Kenya Resources

Jwani Mwaikusa

There are only white women around:
Awful fakes of white females
Reflecting an awful mass of ugliness:
And I want a lady
To mount the rostrum with
And announce to the world:
“Black is beautiful!”

I want a black beauty queen
With ebony thighs and huge hips
With skin sweating blackness
And a face dark as the night
And bare breasts bouncing
Vigour and energy.
But my eyes, oh my eyes!
They don’t see anything black;
It’s only white skins and masks
Flashing past and slashing,
Destroying my sight so
I can’t get what I want.

I cry and sing to them
The inbred tune of our people,
I shout to them in the black tongue
But no black sister hears me;
Only white masks I see.
I turn and weep upon myself
And then, only then I realize:
I am not black either.

Lost beauty is a critical poem written by a late Tanzanian professor, Jwani Mwaikusa (1952-2010) that clearly depicts the effects both colonialism and neo-colonialism have had on Africans and African culture in general. Today most Africans are suffering from colonial hangovers. While some wish they were born white, some have taken a further step trying to make themselves look white. So they strongly struggle to appear at their best, think, act and live like white people. What they forget however is what was described by Okot P’Bitek in the “song of Lawino” that “The graceful giraffe cannot become a monkey”. This is to say Africans should remain Africans and white people should remain as they are.


Principally, the poem assesses the effects colonialism has had on the African culture. African culture has been seriously damaged by what Africans were fooled to believe as the way of civilized people.
Today most  Africans, (especially women), struggle to change their skin colour using cosmetics, curl their hair and as if that’s not enough they wear wigs with different white women’s hair fashions. They don’t even realize that black African colour is stronger than that of their white counterparts. Nevertheless, according to the poet the more they beautify themselves in white fashions the uglier they look (line 3). He has the following to say (lines15-17)
There are only white women around:
Awful fakes of white females
Reflecting an awful mass of ugliness:

Initially Africans were very proud of their body morphology, but in the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries things have changed dramatically. Africans were created naturally beautiful, and for so long they have lived appreciating this wonderful creation. However, after the coming of white people things have changed in a sense that Africans now cling to the culture that is not theirs. Not only has this affected the way they look at things but also the way they themselves appear. It is hard nowadays to get a naturally beautiful African lady. They curl their hair and wear wigs to look like white women. They don’t realize that black is beautiful the poet as says. (Lines 9-14)
I want a black beauty queen
With ebony thigh and huge hips 
With skin sweating blackness
And a face dark as the night
And bare breast bouncing
vigour and energy

The poet’s reflection on himself draws a clear picture of awareness and consciousness by showing how grand this dilemma is. He goes back and looks at himself; perhaps the way he dresses, the food he eats, the language he uses, the education he has and his general lifestyle and comes into a conclusion that these values are not African either. This is to say the poet is aware that colonialism has left effects to both African men and women. This sense of awareness comes to him in the last stanza when he says;
I turn and weep upon myself
And then only then I realize
I am not black either.

The poet seems to table a discussion for African to debate and arrive at a conclusion on whether or not the direction we are heading is right. We need to stop a bit and rethink where we came from where we are, where we should have been. We are losing our identity as Africans while in the process we shall never be white people altogether. This has been a concern of most African novelists, poets/poetess, and playwrights. Since white people never wish to change and look like Africans, then why should Africans do? Since the graceful giraffe cannot become a monkey, let us be proud of our African identity and struggle to create a black identity. As the poet says in (lines 4-7);
And I want a lady
To mount the rostrum with
And declare to the world
Black is beautiful.

The poet is showing an open protest against the behaviour of some African ladies who have neglected their culture and are busy cherishing the culture from Europe. The poet calls upon the Africans to reflect back and see that there is something going wrong.
I shout to them in the black tongue
But no black sister hears me;

a)    What does the title “Lost beauty” tell you?
The title shows that there was some kind of beauty initially which has been lost now. It simply refers to Africans who have lost their natural African beauty in the process of trying to look like white people by using artificial designs.
b)   The poet says “my eyes oh my eyes! They don’t see anything black” what does he mean?
Considering the surrounding atmosphere in the poem it shows that all the people around him have masked themselves with European fashions and he can’t find one who is displaying the qualities that are completely African.
c)    Who is the persona in this poem? How do you know?
The persona is an African man who is aware of how European culture has dismantled African culture. This is revealed when he says that he wants a lady, which means he is a man.
d)   Comment on the tone and the mood of the poem.
The tone is lamenting, satirical and sarcastic. The persona cries for the change that has taken place, but later he realises that even himself is affected by this change. This makes his mood sad and unhappy.
e)    What type of a poem is this?
It is a modern? freeverse poem since there is variation in the number and length of lines in every stanza. Some lines are made up of only one word as in the 1st line of stanza two. “Yes”
But also the poem does not follow regular rhyming scheme.
f)       The poet says,I shout to them in a black tongue” what do the words “black tongue” mean?
The fact is, there is no black tongue in colour, but ‘black’ here implies African tongue. In other words it means in a way (language) that Africans can hear and understand.
g)      Comment on the figures of speech and poetic devices.
Ø  Simile;
And a face dark as the night
Ø  Hyperbole :
to mount the rostrum with and announce to the world” the fact is that one cannot announce to the whole world from a rostrum (stage)
“With a skin sweating blackness” there is no skin that can sweat blackness.
“And a face dark as the night” (no one can have a face dark as the night.)
“Ebony thighs” (human thighs cannot be as black as ebony wood)
Ø  Reiteration
My eyes oh, my eyes!
Ø  Imagery
White masks”, blackness, white skins, huge hips are images of sight (visual images)
Cry, sing, shout and weep are images of sound (audio images) 
Ø  Alliteration
Black beauty queen
And bare breast bouncing….
Ø  Symbolism
Black tongue –African language
White women/skins/masks –Black African ladies who use cosmetics to change their skin colour
h)   Read again the last line of the last stanza. In what sense is the poet not black?
The poet realizes that he is not black in a sense that the white men values have affected him as well. This may be in terms of his education, dressing style, language, and the general lifestyle and not in terms of skin colour.  
i)     What message do you get from the poem?
Ø  Africans should be proud of their natural identity.
Ø  Black is beautiful. Appreciate who you are.
Ø  No matter how hard Africans try to change and imitate white people, they will remain Africans.
Ø  Don’t judge others because you might be having the same problem.
Ø  Men should be proud of natural black African ladies.
ü  The poem is relevant to most African countries since the effects of colonialism have affected the whole continent.
ü  Today a lot of women struggle to change their black skins to become white by using cosmetics. Some even hate their black hair and wear wigs or curly their hair.
There are men who are proud of marrying natural African ladies.