That AMBI. Is it something special?

Come look at this face...


even closer...

Now, check the skin.

Not bad, huh?

I use AMBI skin cream,

And you are looking at skin AMBI helped beautify.

You see, AMBI helps get rid of blotches, dark spots...the works!
AMBI conditions and softens your skin too. And AMBI blends your skin into one beautiful glowing tone, all over...

That AMBI. It is something special!

Text: From Hydroquinone (skin bleaching agent) advertisement regularly aired on Kenya Television in the 1970s-80s.
Illustration: Watercolor by Hana Njau-Okolo (Feb. 2007)

Tuongee? [Thoughts?]


Mama Shujaa.

All content, images Copyright © Hana Njau-Okolo 2009. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Great post Mama, but an ad from the 70s and 80s isn't something I can say brings memories...hahaha....

  2. Mama Shujaa!!! I used to recite that commercial almost every day and suprised myself when I could still remember the words today! I guess I'm giving away my age! But anyway...Great commercial but.... Sad that a lot our country women actually fell for that skin lightening craze and even sadder that there are many (including some African men!) who still subscribe to it in the 21st century - despite the many warnings of the dangers of the toxic ingredients. Take a look at these images: Let's be proud of our skin tone - no matter what complexion!

  3. Unbelieveable that parents are also bleaching their kids' skin! Check this interesting You Tube Clip : as well as the orginal video from the Tyra Banks show

  4. You dey bleach o, you dey bleach. Yellow fever, you dey bleach. Fela.

    Ironic that Africans bleach while Europeans tan.
    Sadly, it is also common in the West Indies.

    In the States, light skin has always had an edge.

  5. Your painting: full of music! AMBI: Yuck! My mom and I used that stuff when I was in middle school. We called it Michael Jackson cream (no offense, Mr. Jackson). We slathered that crap on our faces for years. It leaves the skin with a flat, dull grayish tone. We even had the soap. WTF?!?

    Mama S, you are simply sensational, woman! I can feel your momentum churning and rolling and picking up incredible speed! Your writings ground me and soothe my ruffled nerves. I enjoy the energy underneath your words. Your blog is like lounging in a comfy chair, wearing a soft robe and sipping a mocha latte.

  6. Another hidden talent! You didn't tell me you could paint! I guess something must have rubbed off from the Paa Ya Paa Art Gallery days! Congrats Mama-every-woman-Shujaa!

  7. @ Cee: LOL...don't make me feel old and sexy girl! I'm not THAT much older than you; besides that ad is just as relevant today!
    @ AO: It is indeed a sad truth that to this day so many African women hunger for lighter skin. And they continue to use a chemical product that is said to cause cancer, has many toxic ingredients. Apparently, Hydroquinone is still used widely, but I have also heard it is banned in South Africa - is this true?
    So there are guys, besides MJ that subscribe to it these days? I know a couple Nigerian guys who'd rather be dark chocolate than yellow, so they take baths in HOT WATER to darken their skin, because they are tired of the "olopka" [police officers] calling "Yellow, come here!"
    Really shocking those parents are subjecting their children to such esteem-reducing habits.
    Which brings me to?
    @Tipsy Joe: I can't believe both you and your mum applied this skin cream. You are both fair in complexion, and you both have lovely tone, already...?! 'nyway gorgeous, thanks for your kind words :-)
    @ Anonymous: to your point about Europeans tanning, one of my blogger buddies recently did a post about the attention Ghanaian actress Rosalind Baffoe received because she visits a tanning salon after the winter months. Here: An African living in Europe who visits the tanning salon to retrieve some of her dark complexion.

  8. oooergh..think it's bad for the skin. that's what media does...have to be lighter, darker, skinnier, straighter or curlier hair blah blah blah....images thrown at us and kids...hideous...still. as always, powerful post mama, kabisa. hapa hamna mvua. sasa iko shida...hamna chakula. send some rain!!!!! lots love and salaams as always xxx janelle

  9. oh so funny,, hillarious

    have you seen the video of the family of bleachers from jamaica ?

    it's unbelievable;

  10. I love your blog Mama Shujaa, so fun, teaching and beautifully written!

  11. I remember Ambi. My elder sisters used it but me they slathered me with vaseline till my face shone. I was so jealous!

  12. @ RE Ausetkmt, Carina and Shiko-Msa: Thanks for stopping by and for the comments.

  13. How funny! I enjoyed the whimsical variety in Njau-Okolo’s painting. I hope you post more of her work.


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