This is a serious question to ask as it is now apparent that some Ghanaian women are bleaching themselves in disturbing proportions and that the craze for lighter skin is fast getting out of control if not stopped could have drastic consequences.

The biggest victim of skin bleaching was the late Michael Jackson who bleached himself from a cocoa brown colour to an almost pale-faced like colour which amongst other things was the cause of his premature and untimely death.

This special feature seeks to ask why many Ghanaian women are bleaching themselves ? the reasons behind this and more importantly, the health risks of this exercise. As a conscious African man I find it totally unacceptable, grossly offensive and highly disrespectful that many Ghanaian women are bleaching their God-given skin.

The reason why some Ghanaian women bleach themselves is as a direct result of European enslavement and cultural imperialism. Let me as a historian illustrate how this has manifested itself.

Before the Europeans came to Africa to enslave us they already knew that God was an African and that Jesus and Mary were Africans?they displayed African images of Christ, Mary and their disciples in their churches in England, France, Germany Spain, Portugal, Russia and so forth up until the early 1600s.

However when they ?discovered? enormous riches in Africa- thanks to the likes of so-called explorers like Portuguese Vasco Da Gama and needed access to those resources to develop Europe which before 1700 was a backward continent, they needed a reason to come to Africa and exploit these resources.

It is this when the Pope Pius ordered Italian Michelangelo to change the images of Christ from Black to White as before 1600. All the images of Christ in Europe were BLACK with AFRICAN features ? This information is in the Vatican libraries in Rome.

However, this single act was to change forever the way African people but in particular African/Ghanaian women saw themselves.

After the European changed the image of God/Jesus from Black African to White European, the European came to Africa with the gun in one hand and the so-called bible in the other to so-called civilize African/Ghanaian people with their brand of Christianity (by the way Christianity originally came from Africa) even though they knew that God /Jesus was Black/African.

When they came to Africa with their White version of God/Jesus, they literally brainwashed Africans/Ghanaians into accepting that God/Jesus was white. This then created a false impression that everything godly was white. The angles were white, the Virgin Mary was white, white being associated with purity and so forth. As such beauty began to be associated with whiteness. This was the brainwashing that the early missionaries inculcated into the minds of African/Ghanaian people.

This then meant that beauty was associated with being white and African/Ghanaians who are 100% diametrically opposed to White/Europeans began to question their God-given black skin.

This hatred/questioning was further compounded by the cultural bombardment of beauty as determined by the Europeans. The Europeans through films, TV, fashion magazines, videos, modeling etc., were able to promote whiteness as the standard of beauty. As a result of this constant bombardment, Ghanaian/African women have been conditioned into thinking that white/pale skin is beautiful.

This has created a situation now where many Ghanaian/African women have become whether on a conscious level or a sub-conscious level dissatisfied with their Black/African skin.

This dissatisfaction has created a multi-billion dollar industry in skin bleaching/whitening creams that have exploded on the market due to the Ghanaian woman’s insecurity about her African complexion.

These skin bleaching/whitening products have in the past been imported into Ghana by Nigerians and now more recently by Indians, Europeans and Chinese companies.

There are an array of bleaching creams on the Ghanaian market such as skin white, skin light, and carrot light with slogans like ?Ma wo honam enkasa? that are enticing naive and gullible Ghanaian women to bleach their God-given Black skin.

However what many Ghanaian women who bleach their skin using these toxic creams are not aware of is some of the deadly side effects of using them. The toxic ingredient that most of these creams have is a deadly chemical called hydroquinone.

Hydroquinone is a dangerous chemical/bleaching agent used by some skin lightening cream manufacturers. It is a chemical that has been banned in the UK due to its dangers. A question to ask is that if this dangerous chemical hydroquinone has been banned both in the US and the UK due to its health risks then why oh why is the Government of Ghana allowing hydroquinone based products into the country? Is the desire for foreign currency more important than the health of our people?

Some people using hydroquinone have had their skin peeled off. Some dermatologists have deemed hydroquinone to be safe if used in smaller quantities. However using excessive amounts of hydroquinone has resulted in people’s skin peeling off their body and the effects of lightening the skin get reversed making you darker than you were to start with.

Hydroquinone also reacts badly to the sun. If you apply a hydroquinone based cream and you go out into the sun it will accelerate the process of getting darker. Also if you stop using hydroquinone the effects are reversed so you have to continue using it.

Some of these effects can clearly be seen on many Ghanaian/African women who use bleaching creams ? these effects range from burning, damaged skin, skin blemishes, orange to reddish looking skin and an intolerance to the sun as these bleaching creams have damaged the Ghanaian/African woman’s ability to produce melanin that protects them from the sun’s Ultra-Violet rays.

Apart from the pathetic and erroneous practice of skin bleaching, what Ghanaian/African women are saying on a subliminal level is that God the Almighty made a bad mistake giving them Black skin and that they are bleaching their skin to get rid of what God gave them for a more lighter/fairer complexion ? this is grossly insulting to God and an offence to the Almighty of the highest order and is an affront to our ancestors who were proud of their Black complexion.

The sad thing about Ghanaian/African women bleaching is that they can never become white. It is about high time that Ghanaian/African women in general recognised the spiritual and historical importance of being African/Black.

The African/Black woman was the first person that the Almighty put on this planet and ALL human beings descend from the womb of the African/Black woman and the almighty did that for a specific reason and Ghanaian/African women must be proud of their dark skin.

Black is beautiful and Ghanaian/African women must not allow the European bombardment of beauty to create an inferiority complex in them to believe that being African/Black is ugly.

Ghanaian/African women should also remember that it is inner beauty that is much more important than physical beauty.

By Dr. Kwame Osei

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