Ink sketch and Watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm
From my Africa / Ethnic series.
In this painting, I had just added some random colour to the paper, not actually knowing where I was heading, just feeling inspired by seeing the colours flow. As the colours dried, I started seeing a shape emerge and as I followed some of the outlines with my black ink Pilot FineLine Cokey pen, this lady’s face started taking shape and I just went with it.
A Black Woman, Nothing Else
By Annie Ruth
There used to be a time when
I was ashamed of my skin.
I received tormenting jokes
from all of my friends.
Of course it wasn’t done
to make me feel this way
But being black gave me much dismay.
“African, charcoal, Black Baby”,
I would hear
But no one even noticed or knew
That I had silent tears.
Those names became nicknames and
I’d hear them everyday at school
‘Cause when I was young and growing up
I’d play by my peers rules.
One day when I was still young
My father left us all
And married a white woman
Who beckoned his every call.
I was really ashamed of my skin then,
I thought it was very bad,
I thought the white woman had something
Which I could never have.
But one day when I was still young
I met a black lady darker than I was,
She cherished and boasted that her
Color was a gift from above.
She told me that I was beautiful –
Something no one had ever done.
She said, “your skin is
So black and smooth-
Which shows the perfecting of the sun”.
She said, “To match the pretty black skin
Your teeth are white as snow
And I’m sure that you will show them
Everywhere that you go”.
Everyday she would tell me this
And her words began to spread.
They came from other people
I never even met.
The words of my friends changed to,
“Let me feel your face
And let me see you grin”-
For sister, you are beautiful-
Be proud of the colour of your skin.
Now, I’m not ashamed of my skin
Though obstacles it may bring.
I proclaim to the world that I am
A Black Woman, the element of spring.
I blossom with happiness
And pride within myself
For I am A Black Woman
And I wish to be nothing else.
(Annie Ruth is a nationally acclaimed visual artist, poet, author and performing artist whose work impacts women and children across the country.)