Embracing and loving my natural hair

Natural hair is beautiful and versatile.

For many years my hair  was not well taken care of,  as I do not obsess much over my hair so it was usually dry, brittle and a bit dull.  I also think that much as I did not take good care of my hair I was not gifted with good quality hair (some qualities or features are inherited)….. My hair is thin, weak, very slow growing and a winner at shrinkage. I am one of those you would to refer to at school as having kaweke or PQ ( poor quality). I hate spending time at the salon / hair dresser’s, I usually buy or make  my own products and buy the hair equipment I need to do my own hair at home but I wasn’t also very consistent at it.

Truth be told, I find my type of hair very hard to manage and comb in its natural form and this is why I used to have it in braids and weaves most of the time. (I hear a fancy term these days – protective styling). When my hair is in braids , I do not have to worry about styling it a certain way or combing, all I have to do is keep it clean. The maintenance of natural African hair is a real struggle that all of us of African descent have experienced.

Thankfully, one of the great things that came out of the difficulty and lack of confidence in wearing and dealing with our kind of hair texture in its natural form, was the search for information and experimenting with various products –  both store bought and homemade remedies. At the fore front of this cause were the lady content creators on YouTube who created hair care and styling tutorials, reviews about the products and DIY projects they had embarked on. And with it was the birth / emergence of many women entrepreneurs who set up businesses to make products that specifically suit our hair type. These business ventures include hair salons and hair product manufacturers that catered to and demonstrated for us all how our hair in its natural form is both versatile and beautiful. Such examples in Uganda include Afros and Mo – a beauty salon that also makes its own products, Livara, Frotextured, among many others.

I love that our Africanness that comprises our art, culture, fashion, style, beauty and swag in general is gaining more prominence as well as being embraced and proudly showcased on the international scene by public figures and celebrities. These celebrities whether you like it or not influence opinion and cause change on a larger scale. They have got great influence on millions of people (the fans) and businesses who would like to associate with their power to influence and hence collaborate with them.

One of the things I liked and still like about the Black Panther movie, is that it honoured our African heritage in many ways including our fashion and beauty. Celebrities like Lupita Nyong’o,  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and many others have always proudly worn their natural fair and beautifully showcased the beauty of our hair in their various appearances and demonstrated that our African hair is neither boring nor Ugly.

It is refreshing when you see an influencer wearing jewellery or clothing that is originally African, I wish that in addition to wearing they would also talk more about it…… it should not be something that these big businesses and corporations do because they want to appear inclusive and correct ( not with all this diversity talk trend.).

This by the way, is not to judge or blame anyone that chooses a different style or who prefers to wear their hair differently or to even identify differently – by all means be you and do you. In the same breath, I or anyone else who chooses to express our selves  using or natural hair or any Afrocentric style  … i.e bold head, no comb, dread or braid…. should not be perceived to be unserious or not well put together aka “unprofessional”.

So, about three years ago I decided to go natural and cut off all my hair and I kept it short for about six months then I started to grow it again. My main motivation for cutting my chemically processed hair was because I wanted live a healthier (i.e practice wellness) lifestyle and this for me meant that I needed to eliminate as many chemicals as possible from my day to day life. … plus I guess I also matured and was more confident in who I was.

My new healthy lifestyle journey included growing natural hair and finding natural products I could use (mostly from my kitchen) to maintain my hair. So over this period I have tried many products and created concoctions including shea butter (Uganda has the best type of shea butter and my hometown Lira produces lots of it), olive oil, ghee (clarified butter), coconut oil, argan oil and all kinds of oils to condition my hair, I have made concoctions with bananas, avocado, ginger, onion juice, honey, eggs for my home made deep hair conditioning and as remedy for certain conditions.

I am always on the search for new information and tips on natural hair and do I keep up with various natural hair bloggers and YouTubers, trying out their recommendations so as to discover what works for my hair. During this process I have learnt to not only embrace but also love my hair because I now know how to both manage and style it.

I usually keep my hair in corn rows or box braids because it is both convenient and time saving, and when I remove the extensions my natural hair does not remain open more than two days, most of the times I have been braiding back to back. However this last time when I removed the corn rows ( about 4 weeks ago) I just felt I was tired of always plaiting my hair so I decided to either cut it short to a manageable size and keep it that way or to have a short chemically processed style… huh (I had picked out a structured short bob). Anyway, I got lazy to visit the hair salon as usual and had to improvise something for going to work on Monday. So I did my usual wash and condition then I pulled back the hair and knotted it at the back with a sort of bump at the front (forehead)…. It looked like I had I had a hair cut and I received so many compliments on this style from my colleagues and friends.This is how my hair got saved by the faux cut. So for now I am still enjoying my hair and I do not think I am going to braid any time soon.

The reality though, is that our natural African kinky hair at some length is perceived not to be presentable enough, that it is untidy, not nice enough and not a professional look for the work place. I actually find there is a sort of self inflicted racism and discrimination in many of our Ugandan schools. At a school with other races or mixed races (Asian or Caucasian) the school will allow these kids to wear their hair long and then strictly enforce the short hair requirement on the rest of the pupils / students. I guess this is why when one is out of the school system (those that prohibit long hair) we rush to braid and / or chemically process our hair – like it is some sort of achievement or rite of passage.

We also do not help ourselves much with this perception of our natural hair not being presentable enough, we are actually our worst critics. A while back I found myself in a very unpleasant conversation with two male friends who plainly told me our hair as ladies must be kept short to ensure it is both clean and presentable. That we (women and girls) do not wash our hair frequently enough, that the head must be washed daily and that they cannot allow their daughters to grow their hair because its not hygienic ( citing our dusty country and humidity). Then there is this thing that growing and braiding hair is a distraction for the children. That the child will end up minding more about her hair and wasting time on it instead of concentrating on her studies. One of these male friends actually had the audacity to ask me how my girls were performing at school because I plainly told him they wear their hair long. My opinion was that an issue of good hygiene was not related to growing hair and neither was it related to class performance. Our hair can be washed and kept clean as often as is necessary and if you can plan and manage your time well, hair cannot be a distraction. Honestly though, there are people who when they braid their hair forget about washing until after the braids / extensions have been removed and this is of course not okay….. That hair will definitely be dirty, smelly and with a built up layer of greasy dirt on the scalp…..eeeeww.

Anyway, I hope I did not get carried away , this post was originally meant to be my review on using ghee as a deep conditioner but it took a life of its won. Hopefully I will be able to share a more helpful and informative post on ghee for both cooking and beauty later. Otherwise thank you for visiting and I do hope I lit up something inside you and doesn’t have to be about hair.

Do you have an opinion about hair?

Kindly share with us in the comments.

Blessings always


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