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NATURAL HAIR: THE AFRICAN PRIDE

NATURAL HAIR: THE AFRICAN PRIDE.

It’s observable that a good number of women today, African women are “transitioning” their hair to natural. This choice cuts across women of different ages, class, career and educational qualification.

This indiscriminate spread is a good thing as it cannot be said that these women transit, not by choice, but because of financial incapacity to maintain a relaxed hair. Actually, maintaining a natural hair is more expensive, requires skill and is more time consuming than just relaxing your hair.

I really don’t know anyone’s reason for choosing to transit, but I’ve once heard that it is in the spirit of African resonance, an awakening among African descendants to uphold their,our heritage , promote their,our ways and live it with pride.
That is a good thing. The African culture is beautiful in many ways. Blunting out any of that beauty or denying it is a disservice to oneself.

Honestly, I don’t remember the last time I groomed a natural hair. It’s either that I have a poor memory or that it has been so very long ago. But I remember as a little girl struggling with my mother everytime she made my hair. The struggle was even worse when the hair was been made by someone else, as there was complete lack of compassion as I was held down while the person braided. In those days, after you loosen your (natural) hair and wash it, you would be quickly plaited “some gaps” so the hair would not become too tough by the time you are ready to waive or plait it the next day or the day after.

For the iGeneration who do not know what “some gaps” is, it’s a style where hair is cut into few portions and is held together loosely with thread. I haven’t seen anyone wearing the style in recent years. Maybe they no longer need to as there are easier ways to manage hair without worry about it becoming too tough to cut, comb or braid.

After some time, but still in my early girl days, my mother kuku “transitioned” me and my sisters. I permed my hair and my two sisters turned theirs to “Jerry Curl”.

I haven’t looked back since then. Even the sight of modern women wearing their natural hair beautifully with so much pride has ever tempted me to consider the struggle again. Not even Chimamanda’s hair.

Our women have turned to many ways to manage their tough Nigerian hair(in Lil Wayne’s voice). Some of these ways include relaxing it, moisturizing it, hot combing it, or plain wrapping it up in a scarf(and forgetting it). I don’t know why we would single out softening it with chemicals as downgrading our “Africanness”.

For whatever conviction anyone holds for transitioning, it is senseless(forgive me for using the word “senseless”) if one of it is that African women should love their hair the way it was made by God and not try to erode it with chemicals in a desire to have a sleek straight hair like white women. I know my hair can never be like the hair of a white woman, not in length nor in texture.

Come to think of it, what is wrong in appreciating the ease in how white women’s hair are groomed and managed and wanting to enjoy some of that ease too. For one, it would relieve you of the pain and struggle.

We live in a modern world, many cultures have intertwined and are being appreciated by people of other races and culture, this I believe is a mark of modernization and civilization. If we insist on holding onto our ways(in all things) without adopting inventions, improvements that makes things easier or enhance aesthetics, we might as well pack our things and deport ourselves back to the stone age. We would shut-down our educational system as we know it and revert to tales by moonlight kind of learning(and teaching). We go back to Amadioha and turn away from “foreign gods”. We leave our brick houses and easily erect mud ones and live happily ever after. We throw away our air conditioners, afterall the God that allotted us a hot region is not unwise. We shun all our modern day professions that originated or is influenced by the West and return to farming, hunting and fishing.

There is an India Arie song titled “I’m not my Hair”. Part of the lyrics of the song says “I’m the soul that lives within”. There is more to being African than “my hair”.

There are many ways to resonate our African heritage, it’s almost a ridicule to choose to only resound it only by grooming your hair “African”, when everything else about you; mannerism, make-up, language, clothing, food, accent, child rearing practices imitates the West and Westerners.

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