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UK artiste weighs in on local skin bleaching culture

Published:Sunday | December 28, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Recording artiste Tenza is appalled that skin bleaching is increasing in popularity in Africa and Jamaica, especially since some agents of the music industry are promoting the practice. According to the singer, artistes should use their musical gifts to inspire rather than to lead fans of their music into a direction that may have dangerous repercussions.

Tenza, who sold more than 500,000 copies of the single, Too Hot, as a member of the electric trio Fya, and was formerly signed to internationally renowned record label Def Jam, is now a solo act. The Jamaica-born singer is now gearing up to lend her voice for a positive cause, by releasing a new single called African Empress.

According to the singer, the song is intended to resocialise persons who have been misguided into thinking that black is not beautiful; hence they resort to skin bleaching.

African Empress was produced by Suncycle Digital and TMD Records, and is available for purchase on iTunes. All proceeds from the record sales will go towards Tenza's BossLady Charity. The initiative is geared towards assisting less fortunate parents with the financing of early-childhood education.

Tenza hopes African Empress will make a powerful impact and assist with breaking down the barriers of social stratification based on skin colour.

"It's a taboo subject, but a cruel racial hierarchy still exists in today's society, where the lighter-skinned persons are regarded as superior to the darker skinned. Dark skin is sometimes seen as failure and light skin is seen by many as being beautiful and equating to success," said the gold-selling singer.


Tenza says she saw the skin-bleaching practice in Jamaica as a fad that would have eventually disappeared. However, a recent visit to Africa revealed just how serious the issue of self-hate was among people of African descent.

"I noticed that a number of young, beautiful, black African girls were bleaching their skin and, when I asked why did they do this, they explained that dark skin is not beautiful enough to present opportunities," she said.

The artiste further stated that a musical gift should be used to inspire instead of as a tool to guide loyal fans in the wrong direction. She expressed that the spread of the practice left her heart-broken.

"It made me sad and broke my heart, but I was even more worried for their health, because young black girls are actually bleaching their skin with products designed to remove stains from clothing and all those chemicals cannot be good for the human body."

The Jamaica-born artiste has performed at several places, globally including India, Japan, Malaysia, Sweden, Austria, Gambia and Uganda. She has also received several awards, including the CMA award for best international cross-over artiste, and best female dancehall solo artiste of the year 2013, at the DIA UK awards. Tenza has also participated in charities, including the Sue Ryder Midnight all female 10k walk, sponsors of Buckingham All-Age School in Jamaica and the Tenza Fan Club in Brikarma, Gambia.