I finally understand what Beyonce was talking about: On Self-Love

Jubril Lawal
4 min readJul 24, 2023

I’ve always hated going to the Barbers’. It’s not because of all the waiting in line I’ll potentially have to do, or because I’ll have to interact with lots of people. Lol, well, at least not completely. It’s because I was forced to do it as a kid.

My bald-headed dad always hated how my hair looked. More often than not, he’d compare my hair to a “rastaman’s,” mostly because it gets very curly, very fast. In fact, I noticed that if I didn’t comb it for a while, it would start to form dreadlocks. He was an advocate for straightened-out hair and believed that African hair is too kinky, and, thus, should be kept low or shaved off completely. As you’re already suspecting, he took huge pride in having his head shinier than a fish fresh out of water.

Because of this, I started to believe my hair wasn’t good enough to be seen in public. This is but one of the many things that made a highly impressionable 12-year-old think Africans weren’t good enough. Not beautiful enough. Such is the case for many, many people in households across the continent.

African Inferiority

African inferiority goes back farther than you may think. In the 18th century, political and intellectual leaders across the world bought into the idea of back inferiority. Using ideologies like the Great Chain of Being, they enforced the idea that men are born unequal. Many started to believe that white-skinned people were superior to their darker-skinned counterparts, and, thus, began to capture and enslave them.

As you may already know, slavery brought about a ripple effect on the world’s structure. They mocked the way we spoke, act, and, most importantly in this case, looked, often likening our features to grotesque figures and shapes.

Many of these stereotypes were passed across during the colonial era. The British often praised their features in the media, saying that their long, pointed noses, their thin lips, their white skin, and their straight, silky hair were representations of true beauty. Why do you think wigs and bleaching creams sell so much these days? Why do you think “Yahoo guys” with dreadlocks are profiled to be unkempt, dangerous, and ugly by our society?

Their Western curriculum promoted the inculcation and internalization of THEIR history and values while demonizing ours. Their curriculum was taught in THEIR language, and ours was ignored. Why do you think many people today attribute impeccable English language fluency to a high level of intelligence?

The colonial masters introduced THEIR religion to us, brandishing ours as demonic and barbaric. While I agree that some practices were cruel back in the day, like the killing of twins, their constant criticism got to us, and we started to see things that came from us as evil. It became so bad, that it’s become a thing of subtle pride for many parents today for their kids to not be able to speak their mother’s tongue. Why do you think so many Gen Z’s and some millennials can’t speak “strong” Yoruba, Igbo, or Hausa? (See also: minority tribes).

Obviously, I can’t talk about all the factors that brought about this sense of inferiority. All I know is that if we don’t get up and start to find the beauty in ourselves, this mindset will continue to remain prevalent in the population, and we’ll always see ourselves as less.

In a way, my dad was doing the right thing; trying to get his kid to look societally presentable. Hell, I respect it, he was looking out for me. But now, I’ve decided to grow and love and gush over my hair!

I’m currently in a phase of rediscovery. I’m unlearning all these harmful, insidious, self-defeating schemas and embracing the concept of unbeatable, unreplicable African beauty. Look, I’m not saying that these people are horrible. If not for them, civilization in Africa won’t be where it’s at today. Now more than ever, Nigerians nationwide can now understand each other through one notorious language; English Language. However, while using these technologies and education, and philosophies to our advantage, we shouldn’t forget our rich African culture, traditions, and general beauty.

Africa, we are beautiful. We just have to reach far within ourselves to realize this truth. So, maybe Beyonce truly was on to something. Many countries have recognized this beauty of ours CENTURIES ago. Why do you think they always sought to steal manpower and resources from us?

(Note: All of this came from listening to Trouble by DRB Lasgidi and Tems, and Brown Skin Girl by Beyonce).

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Jubril Lawal

Creative writer trying to change the world in my own little way, one word at a time.