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Kenyan Filmmaker Ng’endo Mukii Tackles ‘Globalized’ Beauty & African Self-Image In ‘Yellow Fever’

Kenyan Filmmaker Ng'endo Mukii Tackles 'Globalized' Beauty & African Self-Image In 'Yellow Fever'

An interview courtesy of Smart Monkey TV, with Kenyan filmmaker/animator Ng’endo Mukii, whose short film, titled Yellow Fever, we profiled on this blog months ago – an impressive piece of mixed-media art, combining hand-drawn animation, computer animation, pixilation, and live action, to make a statement on global standards of beauty and who controls them. 

Yellow Fever also happens to be Ng’endo’s thesis film, made last year, at the Royal College of Art in London. 

In her own words:

I am interested in the concept of skin and race, and what they imply; in the ideas and theories sown into our flesh that change with the arc of time. I believe skin and the body, are often distorted into a topographical division between reality and illusion. The idea of beauty has become globalised, creating homogenous aspirations, and distorting people’s self-image across the planet. In my film, I focus on African women’s self-image, through memories and interviews; using mixed media to describe this almost schizophrenic self-visualization that I and many others have grown up with.

It’s a short film which continues to travel the film festival circuit, attracting acclaim along the way, and rightfully so.

In the taped conversation with Smart Monkey TV below, the filmmaker further discusses on her chosen subject – one that’s been addressed in a variety of ways on this blog, and across the black blogosphere, and has been (and will likely continue to be) a source of much consternation.

First watch the trailer for Yellow Fever, and underneath, watch the Smart Monkey TV interview:

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Walter Harris Gavin

Mass media plays a huge role in how one views one's self. It is so important to present images that are "diverse," and foster the idea that "beauty" comes in all colors.

Nicole Ritchie

The article makes me question “who controls beauty”. I agree that race and skin has a lot to do with what society believes defines beauty. In society today a beautiful woman would typically be represented by a woman of lighter skin and a better texture of hair. Girls want to look like the models they see in the magazines and their favorite actress’s in the movies. Growing up in the schools i went to, they were rivered but the prettiest girls were all the light skin girls with good hair. Television has a big influence on what we choose for appearance, what we consider is “in”. It’s also been like this though. Since slavery days when the mixed women who were light skin enough they would work in the kitchen as cooks, and clean the house in front of guest . The darker women on the other hand got the cruel treatment and more labor. It’s just history repeating itself.


The trailer gave me chills. I would love love love to see it in its entirety.


Interesting! I would like to see it as well.


This seems interesting, I do hope it comes online.

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