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Lupita Nyong’o Addresses Colourism In Forthcoming Book, ‘Sulwe’

Oscar award-winning Kenyan actress, Lupita Nyong’O is gearing up for the release of her book, Sulwe that is set for release in two weeks back.

The “US” actress in a social media post has informed her fans that Sulwe is to serve as a mirror for dark-skinned girls to see characters that look like them and to tackle colourism.


Sharing a photo of her 5-year-old self, Nyong’O said that the book reflects on her feelings when she read books but couldn’t see black characters that looked like her. She wrote:

Lupita Nyong'O

Lupita Nyong’O as a five-year-old

“This is 5-year-old me. I reflected on this little girl’s feelings and fantasies when I decided to write my children’s book, #Sulwe. With this book, I wanted to hold up a mirror for her. Here’s why:

As a little girl reading, I had all of these windows into the lives of people who looked nothing like me, chances to look into their worlds, but I didn’t have any mirrors. While windows help us develop empathy and an understanding of the wider world, mirrors help us develop our sense of self, and our understanding of our own world. They ground us in our body and our experiences.

#Sulwe holds up a mirror for dark-skinned children especially, to see themselves reflected immediately, and it is a window for all the others to cherish peering into.

Colourism, society’s preference for lighter skin, is alive and well. It’s not just a prejudice reserved for places with a largely white population. Throughout the world, even in Kenya, even today, there is a popular sentiment that lighter is brighter.

I imagined what it would have been like for this little girl to turn the pages of her picture books and see more dark skin in a beautiful light. This book is my dream come true for kids like her today. #Sulwearrives October 15. ? Link in bio to pre-order.”

In January 2018, Lupita revealed that she would be writing a book about the struggles she experienced with her complexion and self-image in 2014. In a post on her Instagram feed on April 1st 2019, Lupita shared the illustration cover of Sulwe that depicts an African girl reaching for what could be the stars. The book’s cover illustration was done by Vashti Harrison, an artist and filmmaker from Onley, Virginia.

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