Lupita Nyong'o's Debut Children's Book 'Sulwe' Tackles Colourism, Self Esteem & How True Beauty Radiates From Within



Kenyan Academy Award-winning actress, Lupita Nyong'o is now a published author of a children's picture book titled 'Sulwe'. Sulwe, which means star in her native language, Luo is written by Lupita Nyong'o and illustrated by author, illustrator and filmmaker Vashti Harrison.

The eagerly awaited book tackles powerful themes about colourism, self esteem and learning that beauty radiates from within. It is a story created to inspire children to see their unique beauty.

About Sulwe

According to Google Reads: Sulwe's skin is the colour of midnight. She's darker than everyone in her family, and everyone at school. All she wants is to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey through the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.


The 12 Years A Slave actress says she wrote the book to encourage children (and everyone really) to love the skin they are in and see the beauty that radiates from within. She took to her social media platforms to further elaborate on Sulwe, using her 5-year old self:


"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.

Colorism, 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. #Sulwe arrives October 15. ✨ Link in bio to pre-order."



The Black Panther actress also added in an interview with BBC News, "colourism is the daughter of racism in a world that rewards lighter skin over darker skin. "I definitely grew up feeling uncomfortable with my skin colour because I felt like the world around me awarded lighter skin."


Concluding Thoughts

This is right on brand for Lupita. I also like the fact that her debut book is a children's book. If we are to change the narrative around such deeply rooted issues in our community and how we are depicted as Black people; we need to start with the kids. They deserve to grow up in a colourism free world, where they are represented and validated.

Sulwe epitomises what the late prolific Playwright and Poet Ntozake Shange once wrote; "I write for young girls of color, for girls who don’t even exist yet, so that there is something there for them when they arrive."


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