• Melissa Ngige

'Yellow Fever' Ng'endo Mukii

Updated: May 1, 2020

As a means to explore the premise of identity, I looked at the theme of colourism.

Thanks to my brother, I came across award-winning Kenyan documentary film maker Ng'endo Mukii.

Mukii aimed to try and explore ways in which the media affects how women see themselves. For Mukii, the media is hugely Eurocentric. Her film titled 'Yellow Fever' deals with the controversies surrounding skin colour. The film examines how people of a lighter hue have an easier time in the world. Moreover, as Mukii is of the lighter shade, she explains how she was granted special treatment. Being lighter-skinned has so much value and power; it can give you access to so many things. Within the short documented animated film, from the beginning, Mukii introduces us to a bleached lady. There is this association within the African context that being lighter is better and more rewarding. So, women often try to bleach as a means to better their status in society, receive superior treatment, and acquire those same rewards, which include better jobs or pay.

"I see the west seeing us. Erasing the element of what makes her truly African."

Likewise, as mentioned in my footage, Hyde( participant in my film) outlines how women of a specific skin tone hold a higher status in comparison to women of a dark skin tone.Moreover, Hyde (participant in my film) states that it seems as though "it is better to be a light-skinned woman than to be a dark-skinned woman" due to the concepts embedded in society about having a darker shade. Whereby dark is often associated with inferior. Mukii includes her niece (first picture) in the film who wishes that she was American instead of being Kenyan as she would be "white, white". Which comes to show how embedded colourism is within our scope. In comparison, in my footage of 'black is', Mary (participant in my film) states how embedded colourism is in our sphere, which results in people of a darker hue being stigmatised. This illustrates the kind of world that we live in where we place people of a lighter shade are placed on a pedestal. We do this due to creeds outlined in the enlightenment period by various philosophers such as Eric Williams or Comte de Gobineau, which sparked prejudice and racial categorisation. I found this vital to include as it serves as a form of public anthropology and not only communicates the stigmas in society about race but furthermore, colourism.


(Ng'endo Mukii on the re-animation of indigenous people | Design Indaba, n.d.)


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