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Posted by on Tuesday, March 28, 2017 in 1010 blog posts, Blog posts.

February 11th 2017 I had the opportunity to witness the African student Union organization “Harambee” put on the show “When Madu met Nefretiri.” Before anything I was truly amazed at the crowd of students that stood waiting in line for the production at Langford auditorium. Before having the opportunity to truly gain a feel and understanding for the production, one could feel the emotion and recognize this was going to be something quite special. Though completely unaware of what I was getting ready to witness, I did understand through the diversity of the crowd a message was set for people of all colors, and age groups. As I made my way into the theatre I quickly understood this production was going to impact the audience through more than its dialogue but was going to implement song and dance. The production caught my attention immensely through the powerful messages portrayed all throughout the show, from defining what “beauty” is thought as, to everyday struggles of the world such as sexism, colorism, and racism.


The play consisted of two main characters, Madu, a first-year student from Nigeria at Vanderbilt University was an intelligent kid with high aspirations of being a doctor. Before being introduced to the character of Nefretiri, one could personally feel the confidence Madu had in himself. The song and dance early in the production gave off a high energy that connected the audience with the production immediately. Even from my perspective as a spectator just seeing the emotion and feeling the energy from the synchronized dance continuously gained my attention. As we are introduced to Nefretiri also a first-year student, from Egypt we quickly notice some of the intended messages of the production. Madu is immediately attracted to Nefretiri’s outward beauty, and ask her on a date. While it took a while she eventually gave in and accepted the offer. Madu confident foolish personality leads to him showing up late, and then leads him to admitting to Nefretiri he liked her only because of her lighter skin tone. Nefretiri immediately lets Madu know she does not appreciate this statement, and says she is more than just a lighter skin tone. And it’s clear to the audience she is as they have a strong reaction to this scene. This is where colorism is introduced, discriminating or choosing an individual based off skin tone. This can be connected back to African times in which lighter skin tone was powerful, wealthy and beautiful. The emotion of Nfretiri are unfortunately very common for women throughout the country and too often lead to emotional damage for those not thought of as the “ideal” color.


As a minority student, myself I have witnessed this idea of colorism on a personal level. Even in predominantly African American communities people have separated the black race into two separate categories. Light skin vs dark skin preferences have developed conflict over the true perception of “beauty.” African American males especially have sadly diminished the darker skin tone. While this is a major issue its truly sad is men have looked only at the outward beauty of women, and have failed to understand that a woman to be so much more. Proverbs 18:22 in the bible states that “He who finds a wife, finds a good thing.” I say that to say it’s unfortunate to only look for outward appearance when there is so much more if one takes the time to understand.


Being able to see this production was something I’ll never forget I am truly fortunate this class brought me out of my shell to witness something I may have never experienced while here at Vanderbilt. The way in which the program uniquely incorporated its powerful messages through both song and dance was something special, and I will go back next year to witness the production again.




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