Lately the social media community endorsed the #Melanin hash-tag contemporaneously with other trendy hash-tags to celebrate blackness. Imagine the lyric rapture that struck me after listening to Nia’s Melanin, an anomaly at the time, a rare gem loaded with black pride and self satisfaction in a country whose youths have been deranged by the notion: yellow-bone is the new beautiful. Once upon a girl child in Zimbabwe, skin lightening crèmes became the messianic bridge from being too dark to becoming “beautiful” or yellow-boned.
As an agent of Melanin pride, Nia says “you don’t have to change, hold your head up high. You’ll be glowing, oh please don’t hide.”
After listening to her song I bursted into somewhat a series of midnight soliloquies and the question that first approached my mind was: when was the first time you listened to a pithy, well crafted song with harmonious vocals and notes that are symphonically arranged and at the same time conveying such a salient message? My answer was Nina Simone. The last time I listened to such a song? My answer was Nia.
And the last time I heard someone being proud yet not so narcissistic about embracing their blackness in this generation? That would be Nia, in her song:
“Pandinopfuura mafesi ese anomira hoo, huya padhuze baby unyatsonditarira, ndiudze zvawaona pawanditarisa, mukadzi wawaona pawanditarisa, haana mamwe mafuta aanoshandisa. Natural beauty ndinoikoshesa.”
Melanin is such a song that I think will survive the vicissitudes of time, unlike other artists whose music is usually termed ‘bubblegum’ music because of their inability to create art that is ornate yet promising to stick around for a while. I think Nia has managed to create a bullet that will not only hit the surface of our ears and ricochet. She created a bullet that will hit the surface of our ears, trance our hearts and stay there reminding us to embrace and celebrate ourselves the way we are.
© Elizabeth Semende 🌼