Capital FM (Nairobi)

4 January 2013

Kenya: Black Men and the Yellow Fever Syndrome

Yellow fever is a condition that ails millions of men around the world. Black and African men are particularly susceptible to this illness. This is not the well-known yellow fever that you usually need a certificate for when traveling abroad, oh no. This is a unique strain. There is no injection that can protect you from this particular ailment, as there is no known cure.

Yellow fever can be clinically defined as the attraction to beautiful (and sometimes not so beautiful) light skinned ladies. In Kenya they are referred to as yellow-yellows, while in the U.S the urban slang term used is 'yellow bone' or 'red bone'.

In the Kenyan context many of the ladies who would fall in this category would include mixed race or .5s, many ladies from Central Kenya, Kambaland, Coast, Taita taveta, Maasai, and a number of other regions. Infact in areas like Nyanza, getting a light skinned Luo girl is akin to getting Gold, as finding one is a rare occurrence but a major catch and in very high demand. Then of course there are the Somali Kenyans and Ethiopians.

Symptoms of the 'yellow fever' condition may include; dilated pupils, slight fever, cold sweats, reduced concentration levels, confusion, incoherent speech and swearing under one's breathe when in the presence of the said type of lady, and so on. Chronic symptoms include professing ones love on first date, premature marriage proposals, continuous conspicuous spending, extreme possessiveness and in rare cases madness.

You may be saying to yourself 'not my man!' Well, there is a simple test to see if your man has 'yellow fever' or not. Simply switch your television to citizen TV at 9.30pm, and watch his reaction as Michele Morgan reads the Business News. If you can't seem to get his attention and he shows any of the above symptoms, then your man too has 'yellow fever'.

It is not clear why so many black men suffer from this condition. I know a couple of guys who only date light skinned girls, with no exceptions. When I ask them why, they simply say that's their preference. They have a weakness, they don't know how or when it happened, but that's the way it is; they are in love (read lust) with yellow-yellows.

Some of the reasons that may influence onset of the condition is early exposure to media like magazines, television shows, movies, rap lyrics and urban music videos, all of which have conditioned us to believe that a light skinned woman are the preferred choice.

In Kenya they are referred to as yellow-yellows, while in the U.S the urban slang term used is 'yellow bone' or 'red bone'.

One of the more serious reasons may be the history of slavery and colonialism. Africans were subjected to racism, prejudice and segregation for centuries because of our darker skin. This may have led to self-hate, and to the belief that lighter skin (white) was superior. In slavery times, the master would have sex with female slaves and the lighter skinned children would be elevated to house slave status, while the darker skinned ones remained field slaves. Mixed race children were therefore preferred, and lighter skin associated with beauty, while darker skin was associated with ugliness. The mental scars of this self-hate exist to this day.

Unfortunately this has forced many of our perfectly beautiful chocolate or dark skinned sisters to sometimes go to extremes to make themselves lighter to appeal to men as well as their own sense of self-worth. No wonder there are hundreds or creams, powders, pills and injections in the market that promise these ladies lighter, fairer skin. Most of these treatments have extremely dangerous side effects, but to many of our ladies it's worth the risk.

We black men are oblivious that our 'yellow fever condition'-this obsession with light skinned ladies-has left many of our women self-conscious and insecure. So what can be done to curb this condition, if anything?

I say start appreciating the beauty in every woman, no matter what shade or color she may come in. Also, Look beyond just what you see on the outside. There's more to a woman than just her looks or skin complexion. There's character, personality, intelligence, charm, there is her ability to be a mother, home-maker and much more. If you're going to date or wifey someone just because she is your trophy yellow yellow, then you're in for a rude awakening. Get ready for major heartache.

If you are one of those affected by 'yellow fever', you are one of millions of black men worldwide so don't despair. Kanye West says it best when he raps in his hit song Power "we rollin', with some light-skinned girls and some Kelly Rowlands". Its time to also appreciate the Kelly Rowland's of this world.

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