Friday, July 4, 2014

Bedtime Stories | Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters


Growing up, a big thing in my family was taking pride in who we were and to never feel less than when it comes to the way God created us.  Some people would consider my dad to be pro-black and I guess in a way he was, because he always made sure I was exposed to black excellence in some shape or form, even it it wasn't always him. My entire family did an incredible job at painting successful images of African culture, even if they had to go outside of themselves to do it; meaning if they weren't doing well, they made sure I was exposed individuals who were doing better. I am so blessed. Because my family is one huge interracial melting pot of people, I never grew up with a string of color-ism, shade-ism, or any of those absurd things embedded in me that continue to demolish and destroy minority groups. Call me sheltered, but it wasn't until I was much older that I knew about race issues that existed within the black community.

One of my favorite bedtime stories was Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by: John Steptoe.  As you can see, I still have it, because I think it's a brilliant children's book and it gives young black princesses hope; it depicts black queens in a pretty and honorable light, which today is something this generation is in need of. Now, this was not something I was aware of when I was younger, but seeing a book full of illustrations of queens who looked just like me and hearing my daddy read it to me made a world of difference in my own life. In the same breath, I only played with dolls who were shades of brown and black (not that I had many to begin wit, but the ones I did have were all of color). It wasn't that my dad was against non-black/white people or anyone of European descent, he just wanted to make sure I fully understood that I, too, am beautiful and didn't want to saturate my absorbent, little mind with society's ridiculous ideas of beauty, class, grace, etc.  So to me, black "queendom" was the norm.

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters is a book that I'd want my future daughter(s) to read and fall in love over and over again. It takes place in a small suburban village in Africa under the leadership of King Mufaro. It's African folklore structured somewhat like a typical Disney fairy tale. Scripted with both a villain and a protagonist, the story, in a nutshell, is about the victorious underdog; how, ultimately, kindness always wins and beauty is skin deep. It dives into the opposing dynamics of two sisters, Manyara and Nyasha, and their journey to being wed to a prince. It's full of these incredible paintings full of life and beautiful colors in every face and every landscape. Reading this as an adult brought back wonderful memories of how beautiful it was to me as a young girl and I applaud Mr. Steptoe for this masterpiece. I think every little girl deserves this book, or one like it, to set the building blocks for her budding library; it's up to us to build it for her.

Do you remember your favorite bedtime story? What was it and what do you think it taught you? 

- ♥ Chymere A.


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1 comment

  1. I don't think I ever had a bedtime story! I don't ever remember my parents reading to me, mostly because they don't know English :P

    Jessica
    the.pyreflies.org

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