#025: Banning the Bleach

  • Banning the Bleach 

Rwanda and South Sudan have recently imposed official country-wide bans on skin bleaching products. Beyond the damaging social impact of making users appear whiter, skin bleach contains mercury and hydroquinone - dangerous chemicals which have been linked to kidney failure and cancer.  

Skin bleach, which is often heavily marketed to African women specifically, limits the skin's capacity to produce melanin and is notoriously difficult to keep off the shelves. While South Sudan has prohibited importation and sales of skin whitening products, Rwanda's Ministry of Health has mandated and is executing searches and removals of skin lightening products from shops and markets. According to the World Health Organization, 4 in 10 African women bleach their skin.

Read for:  “'Right now, the focus is getting them off the shelves and educating the people on both the law and dangers they pose to users, but at the same time strengthening operations on traffickers of these toxic skin substances."


  • Sade Adu Turns 60

Nigerian-born legend, Folasade Adu, turned 60 on January 16th. Everyone's favorite Capricorn (and musician) has six ultra-successful albums under her belt with her eponymous band, Sade. Famously reclusive Sade released two songs in 2018 for movies A Wrinkle in Time (song: Flower of the Universe) and Widows (song: The Big Unknown). 

There have been rumors of a new album this year - I pray we could ever be so lucky.

Read for:  "Sade's enigma is her own type of black girl magic: candid, yet contained; seductive, yet detached. But whenever you hear her voice, you instantly know it's her and you're home."


-The World Bank: To Build Human Capital, Prioritize Women's Empowerment
-Women Deeply: Nigeria's Discriminatory Laws Hurt Women and Corporations Alike
-Advances in African Economic, Social and Political DevelopmentCultural Practices and Women's Land Rights in Africa: South Africa and Nigeria in Comparison 

  • No Hugs of Happiness Here 

A female student in Egypt's Al-Azhar University was expelled from school for the 'immoral act' of hugging a man, after he got on one knee and presented her with a bouquet of flowers in what looked to be a marriage proposal. For this gesture of joy, the female student was expelled (male and female students are strictly segregated at Al-Azhar University).

However, after an intervention from the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and expression of deep regret from the female student, the expulsion decision was overturned but she was prohibited from taking her first semester exams (which I suppose is so that she fails? What an odd compromise). Similarly, the male student was also initially expelled from his university, Mansoura University, for two years but was then reinstated, provided he did not take his first semester exams.

Read for:  "'We were supposed to be engaged but after what happened her parents are refusing this completely,' said the young man, a first-year law student who was identified only by his first name, Mahmoud."


  • In Conversation with Oby Ekwesili 

Al-Jazeera's Mehdi Hasan sat down with Nigerian presidential aspirant, Oby Ekwesili, at the Oxford Union to discuss the future of Nigeria in the face of widespread corruption, high poverty rates, and Boko Haram.

The show is called "Head to Head" and Mehdi Hasan is infamously tough to debate with, so one should expect to every single word to be challenged at any given time. At least,she showed up.

Watch for:  "I would say to you that if Nigeria were to break up, it would have happened during the Civil War. The fact that we did not break up means that there is a common destiny that we share. We don't have a religious issue."


Nneoma Nwankwo