There are all types of women in Africa from big mamas to skinny ladies that might look like they are starving in poorly time photographs. What makes one woman more attractive than the other to the average African male’s gaze is the colour of her skin. With all the horror that has been perpetrated on Africans due to such unmerited judgement one would think we would have learnt not to ‘judge a book by it’s cover’ by now.
Who is Nadia Buari?
There are many connotations that come with being fair skinned in Africa. Being a particular shade is seen as both a blessing and a curse depending on who is telling the story. Ghanaian actress Nadia Buari is one such African who is dealing with the complexities of colour in the public eye. Nadia Buari was born on November 21, 1982 in Takoradi in the Western Region of Ghana. Buari was an active member of her school’s drama and dance club. Following high school, Buari enrolled in the University of Ghana, Legon, where she majored in Fine Art, studying performing arts and graduated with a BFA degree.
She is the daughter of Sidiku Buari, a Ghanaian musician. However, it was revealed that her mother, a beautician called Hajia Buari, had her out of wedlock with a foreigner. Hajia later married Alhaji Sidiku Buari, who adopted Nadia legally. [i] The contention surrounding mixed race children is ‘as old as time’ on the continent. It was seen as taboo for black and white people to engage in sexual relations and worse still, create a child out of that union. However, in Nadia’s case being mixed race does not seem to be an issue due to her status of not only being the daughter of a prominent musician, but also a woman who fits the ‘imagined ideal’ of a beautiful black woman.
Watch Nadia Buari’s interview:
They call her Beyoncé:
“I am Nadia Buari but many of my lovely fans love to call me ‘Beyonce’ a name I personified in my recent successful movie.”[ii]Nadia’s breakout role was in the 2006 film ‘Beyoncé: The President’s Daughter.’ In the film, Buari plays a beautiful, vindictive daughter of the president who resorts to manipulation and murder to gain the affections of a man. Since then, she has starred in over 50 movies[iii] as well as producing and directing her own movie called The Diary of Imogen Brown.[iv]
In 2008 Buari moved from Ghanaian films to Nigerian films. Her breakout role in Nollywood was in the film ‘Beyoncé & Rihanna’ as Beyoncé, alongside Nollywood actress Omotola Jalade Ekeinde who played Rihanna. The film became very popular in Nigeria and Ghana. Buari believes the secret to her success is self-motivation and she is often compared to some Hollywood superstars. She says her desire is “to some day be like these Hollywood stars I’m often compared with.”[v] Unfortunately for Buari the superstar she is often compared to is Queen Bey herself, Mrs. Carter. Beyonce Knowles – Carter’s career has been marred with accusations of skin bleaching since her 2003 debut album ‘Dangerously In Love.’ Whilst these accusations have never been proven, it’s ironic that a mixed-race African woman [Buari] is the only African deemed adequate to be cast as the her counterpart by not only Ghanaians but Nigerians as well.
The ‘ideal’ black woman:
It is without a doubt that Nadia’s striking features combined with her ‘proportioned’ body and fair skin, have made her a prominent feature on the African media scene, but these striking features have also lead to a group of people ‘crying foul.’ “Ghanaian movies are gradually changing as light skinned or mixed race artists have invaded the scene. Most of them have become a star overnight as result of their colour. Some people believe that, fair skinned individuals have an undue advantage when it comes to the entertainment industry in Ghana.”[vi] Western media has been perpetuating that ‘light skinned’ women of colour are more attractive for years, and this often leads to them receiving more favourable roles. But at the end of the day there are very few roles for ‘blacks’ in Hollywood no matter how light your skin is – but not in Nollywood or Ghollywood.
Nadia has been ‘Beyoncé’ and a Desperate Bride amongst several other roles, in over 50 films, but we are yet to see the ‘real’ Nadia. Nadia Buari is not Beyoncé. Despite her beauty and ‘yellow skin’ we cannot take away the fact that Nadia is a hardworking actress with a solid background. She is the 1st daughter of African cinema, people love and hate her. She is viewed by some as a disgrace because of her well publicized love life and some of the roles she has played. To others, she is seen as a champion because of her entrepreneurial zeal and philanthropic exploits. But one thing we always forget is that Nadia is still young, Africa is still young. We are yet to find our path. African cinema can truly speak for all of us – we have the opportunity to show the world what ‘culture’ really looks like. Our voices might sound like screams and clicks to the outside, but we know what language we are speaking.
Nadia Buari’s story reflects Africa’s fractious relationship with Western media. On the one hand we want to be full blooded Africans who want to do things our own distinctly black way. On the other, we want to fit in with the rest of the world and not get left out in the ‘dark’. Our problem is that we are always thinking in black and white and not in ‘living colour’. Africans born in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australasia are always looking for more roles for black people in TV and Film but Nollywood produces more films than Hollywood. It’s time African media personalities stop hoping to be like ‘Hollywood stars some day’ and start being themselves. When that happens, we will fully inherit all the colours glowing under the African sun and see the opportunities that are blooming right in front of us.
nb*The featured image is taken from: https://blueink.ng/nadia-buari-celebrates-35th-birthday-with-stunning-photos/