I was having this conversation with a good female friend of mine some nights ago and I was surprised when she told me she’s now leaving her weaves and trying an Afro out of her natural hair .I mean I used to know her with the weaves ,the wigs and stuff..But even apart from that she was going through some personal issues and that made it dawn on me that keeping/leaving ones natural hair makes you healthy rather than have all sort of unnatural invaders on your hair territory.
So all these set’s me on a journey to ask, whats the cultural or aesthetic value of an African woman having her real hair on rather than using synthetic ones to make her look beautiful.
One of the ways the Colonial masters strip African woman off their identity during the slave trade period was to cut off their hair as soon as they get off the slave ships, and even over time when they stopped cutting the hairs,they were let with little or no care for their hairs(am talking of shampoos,and other cream/oils to make the hair look better). But the African woman has always been strong and creative,so they came up with the shear butter cream to make the hair feel good.
And trust this even brought out the beauty of what a black woman should look like.
The early 1930-40’s saw a lot of racism in the US,as a result of the abolition of slave trade which led to the demand of rights by the ex-African slaves and it was period that had a huge effect on the identity of the black women. Culturally and socially thus most woman were trying to be like the next white woman,the use of iron combs and relaxers(a dangerous chemical to the body) became the black woman’s best friend. What happened to the glorious day of leaving your hair with various styles and women rocking their Afros.
Back in Nigeria,I was chanced to go through a set of pictures about women in the early 40/60’s in Nigeria. These woman left their hair in its natural state,whether its weaving ,or plaiting or just rocking the Afro,one could see the beauty and pride in these woman.
I am not saying its bad to relax or treat your hair and make them look good,my problem is the sudden craze of our women wanting to be like the White/European woman…What happened to the identity of the black woman,the robust wooly nice black and shinny hair structure?
The essence of one’s hair as an African lady is an identity,a source of pride,glory of what the African womanhood stands for. Where is that pride now,most ladies even believe leaving your hair in its natural state means you either dont have the money to get it done or you just not sophisticated.
I would say i prefer my woman,with their natural hair,let me see,feel it run my hands through the original natural hair,that’s quite a sensual feeling and most men will agree with me on that.
The introduction of the weaves and the very expensive Brazilian,and all kinds of weaves have rubbed our ladies of their true identity,in as much a white woman can look beautiful with her natural hair should we now say the African woman cant even look more beautiful with hers. Is this a from of inferiority complex or a trace of what the colonial mentality has done to us.
Lately it’s been a do or die affair for women to rock these kinds of weaves just to look beautiful and impress the next man. I would ask this question,how do you look beautiful in a borrowed outfit,how do you maintain that pride? And what if one day the owner of that borrowed culture comes to strip it off you,i sincerely hope going back to what is ours wont be too late.
Apart from the expensiveness and undesired crave for the hair,so many funny stories about the dead asking back for their hair is been said. Not that i believe the stories,but isn’t it possible? Would anyone come asking for anything if you were rocking natural hair.
Take a look at most great Africa women,you will hardly see them wearing these weaves or something. The real identity of what a real African woman looks like is keeping your hair in its natural state and you been proud of what you have and knowing its true worth.
Going down history lane a little bit, a lot of importance has been over time been attributed to women and their hair styles,even in ancient times in Egypt the level of one’s social status was recognized by the kind of hair you wear. This huge significant is not only in the beauty or aesthetic value it possess but also in its cultural impact in the community. The great legendary Queen Moremi of ile-ife wore her “suku” hair style with pride and that hair style was accorded to women from the royal family or someone from a religious background,this also similar to the hair patterns of the priestess of the Osun-Oshogo groove.
Women in ancient Kano/Katsina were known to always wear the hair in a rare and beautiful pattern thus differentiating them from women from other areas. In certain areas of the nomadic African areas,female virgins were said to have their hair pattern,different from married women. And a woman who has lost her husband is easily know with how her hair is been tampered with.
Women who are servants of various gods in ancient Egypt and Africa wore their hair do in different patterns that attribute their outlook to their allegiance to the gods they serve.
So looking at the cultural and aesthetic value how a woman wear’s her hair is a important part of her cultural ethics. And mostly important for any African woman to stay true to her roots.
To all African women wearing that black shining hair with pride,keeping it natural and simple we appreciate you,in as much we know how difficult the African hair can be lets get creative and strive to make it better. Its your culture and your glory,so lets avoid much foreign intrusion on the hair and let it breath..
Keep it simple,Keep it African.
We love you all
(Now am wondering how many women will hate or love me for this article)