Sulwe: The story of the black African child

By Benedict Musyimi


Sulwe is a fictional picture book for children penned by actress Lupita Nyong’o. The story is about a young girl with black skin or skin colour of midnight as others call it. She is obviously a black/African girl.

The story which is about colorism and self-appreciation portrays a girl who is not satisfied by who she is. She feels different and almost condemned and an outcast. She wants to look like others so she can fit in society. She is not satisfied and does not agree with the famous slogan, “looks can be deceiving”. She believes looks say it all. She wishes to have lighter skin like her mother and sister.


Sulwe, a children’s book was written by Lupita Nyong’o.

Sulwe means star in Lupita’s native Luo language.

The story is based on Lupita’s childhood. Sulwe is simply Lupita when she was young.

Sulwe feels ashamed of her skin color

She wants to look like other people, her mother, and sister

Sulwe goes through rejection, maybe asking herself many questions about why she turned out black and whether it is a curse.

Kiswahili and Dholuo translations were made available for the public in 2020 in East Africa through Bunk Books, a Kenyan publishing firm


Sulwe’s mother gives her great advice and opens her eyes to see the beauty of her life. She tells her how beautiful she is and teaches her to learn to appreciate it.

Then an interesting journey in the night sky changes her whole perspective about life and helps her see life from another perspective.

The story is also about black women and their feeling of inadequacy. They need to accept their complexion and believe that they are an image of everything good.


Parents should teach their children to love and appreciate who they are, no matter how they look. This should actually begin with the parents themselves. They should lead by example.

Self-appreciation and identity mastery lessons should be taught in schools.

The story should be an anthem in black countries and societies because it inspires children to see themselves as qualified, beautiful, and deserving. It’s about empowerment. It motivates children to be who they are and that is enough. It helps them to know they are sufficient and adequate to achieve all they were meant to be.

Lupita deserves a “well done” for remembering the young African and African American girl child who sometimes and many times feels undervalued and unworthy.

Children's morals are essential tools to a child’s growth and…