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1 Cup of Brown Sugar, 1 Tblspn of Cinnamon: A Recipe for Melanin Magic

“ In a society that put greater emphasis on creation than production, boredom would not even be an issue. Instead of fearing time and thinking of it as an endless space that has to be filled in, we would value it more and make sure we had time to express our own particular form of creativity” - John-Francis Phipps, Henri Bergson and the Perception of Time

Social Media is great, but it’s not everything. Although it is a platform that has launched people’s ideas and has created a market for businesses of all sorts, it can also be a very toxic space. The extent to which we can become preoccupied with other people’s lives, seek validation by means of likes and have a social media presence is a shaky topic. Now when you are exposed to a plethora of content online you find yourself pressurized to generate the very same content. What was initially an inspiring and creative space- note that creativity is not limited to art and can extend to thoughts and ideas- now feels like a competitive space for individuals to launch themselves into higher social ranks. Within this space, remaining a mystery has become attractive. I witnessed such a thing from my friend Dorothy, aka Paul Wall. This practice is also necessary considering how easily your ideas can be copped by anyone who finds them attractive enough for themselves.

There is a fine line between drawing inspiration and simply mimicking. In my Notes to Self-series on my personal blog, I remind to learn “how to distinguish the difference between one who is inspired by you, and one who wishes to emulate your entire persona”. As a person who respects individuality, I feel violated when someone feeds off of the small things that collectively structure who I am, although individually these small things are not unique to me. I now walk on eggshells before publicly sharing something. Either way, I feel very uncomfortable by the idea of having spectators who dictate how I must look, feel and breath. Perhaps this is what sparked my admiration for Rihanna, which is ironic considering that she’s a pop star in the lime light. My obsession with the bad gal is not only centred around her aesthetic as one would most likely presume, but also around her attitude. She is simply unapologetic. There is so much power when you are beyond living within the comfort of others.

Gone are the days of minimising yourself owing to the fear of judgement. Gone are the days of having to explain yourself to people who misunderstand you. And what’s the point of projecting something out into the world if it’s disingenuous to you? For the hype generated by numbers? Well numbers bear less weight in my idea of value than they did before. A shift from emphasis on production to emphasis on creation has been refreshing. This editorial somewhat resembles this as the current point at which we are vibrating in our lives. Or, as Dorothy says “Internally Blooming”.

- Tshiamo Ramano


Conceptual Analysis

Society is a dinner table and the black woman is tired of being the last served guest.

Tshiamo approached me with a vision and a raw concept for this editorial. She seduced me with a bunch of loose ideas that all came down to one thing - ‘Brown sugar and cinnamon glistening under the sun’. We had to build onto this concept paying close attention to execution in order to avoid producing something that would ultimately end up being unoriginal and predictable. From the go, we both knew that we essentially wanted to produce images that would send out one, simple message - “My Melanin is poppin’”.

Although this raw concept is nothing new and it is nothing that hasn’t already been executed before, Tshiamo and I feel that this is a concept that can never be overdone. This is a message that every black woman needs to feel free to express repetitively and unapologetically. We live in a time where at an increasing rate we see black women use social media as a platform to speak out their truth. Black women are tired of being side-lined. Black women are tired of being served last at the dinner table.

We see black women owning and flaunting who they are. The black woman is loud and unapologetic about her self-worth and her self-love. She is unwilling to be compromised any further by society. She is boldly claiming her place and her significance as a noble trendsetter in this unattractively trendy age that we are living in. This is something that moves Tshiamo and I deeply so together we built onto this concept and with the help of our very talented photographer friend, Aubrey Ndiweni (@apetownshenanigans), we produced a collective of images that capture the beauty of the brown skin under the sun.

We furthermore built onto this concept by allocating a typical Sesotho/Setswana name to each image. Subtly defining each name in English and also showing that each one of these vernacular female names is a strong quality within the black woman. We do not only define each name but we also intend to show that each name defines the black woman and who she is.

The black woman ke Lesedi - the black woman is light.

Ke Thatohatsi, she is love-able.

Ke Omphemetse, she relinquishes thirst.

Ke Mpho, she is a gift.

Ke Kamohelo, she is acceptance.Ke Gontse, she is settled.

Ke Lerato, she is love.

Ke Tshepiso, she is a promise.

Ke Tokelo, She is a right.

Ke Lehlohonolo, she is a blessing.

Ke Bonolo, she is sensitive.

Ke Palesa, she is a flower.

Therefore through these images captured by our beloved Aubrey, Tshiamo and I say ‘More power to you, black woman’. For the sun so loved you that it kissed you. Your brown skin, your sun-kissed skin is everything.

- Dorothy Ramodibedi



Makeup & Styling: Dorothy Ramodibedi

Photographer: Aubrey Ndiweni

Creative Direction: Tshiamo Ramano

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