My Relationship with Bin Laden was Questioned because I Look Fully Black

Kola Boof, born Naima Bint Harith, was revealed to be Osama Bin Laden’s mistress in 2002. Before images of Boof were made public, very little was known about her, other than the fact that she is of Egyptian-Sudanese orijin. Based on this description, she argues that the American media “summoned visions of an Arab-raised aristocrat who they assumed would look like Cher” and had no reason to question the validity of her relationship.

However, Boof further argues that this all changed when it was revealed that she “was not only Black—but looked fully Black—and that I’d been adopted and raised by Black Americans in the United States and returned as an adult to North Africa as a model-actress.” She believes that it was because of her features and complexion that the media deemed her to be less attractive than Prince Charles’ mistress Camilla Parker Bowles or President Clinton’s Mistress Monica Lewinsky and questioned the legitimacy of her relationship with the person she now describes as “our generation’s Hitler.”

In recalling the media’s attack on her identity, she remembers how “American experts claimed that the billionaire “bin ladin” family had an upper class etiquette that would not allow an ‘overtly religious non-sexual” Arab Muslim Osama to have a Black mistress.’”

These aforementioned claims by Boof are included in her recent address to the American media. She expresses that she felt it necessary to address the assassination of her character simply because she looks Black. She pointedly states “I’m tired of being told by Americans both White and Black that because I’m cocoa-skinned, I’m automatically ugly and undesirable.” She further declares in her statement that “I am a chocolate colored African woman living in America and I have never been without a man—I’m not bitter or alone. I am a beautiful intelligent outspoken Egyptian Sudanese American Sunni Egypto Gisi-Waaq Oromo chocolate womanist who never wanted it known that she’d been with our generation’s Hitler.”

While the media will present their own arguments about why Boof’s relationship with Bin Laden was questioned, I find her claims to be quite interesting. I was recently involved in a conversation with a colleague about the recent uprisings in Egypt and other parts of Northern Africa when she expressed she did consider Egyptians or Tunisians to be African. She explained that they “looked more Arab” and not ‘Black’ like Africans, therefore, she classifies them as Arabs and not African. While I found her comments to be disturbing, I was not surprised because many adhere to this mentality. The fact is, many are unaware or fail to acknowledge one of Africa’s oldest civilizations to be part of its makeup.

Africa is one of the world’s most diverse continents. The different phonotypical features, the variety of languages, foods and traditions all contribute to the beauty of the continent. While many still adhere to the divide and rule mentality, it is important that we all celebrate and appreciate the diversity Africa has to offer.

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