One and a half years ago, I decided to finally do the big cut. After weeks of postponing even after hubby gave me the green light, I finally set the big date with the barber and downed nearly all my hair. It was scary at first, the sudden cold feeling on my scalp and the ‘empty’ feeling when I ran my hand over my head. But I had done it!
There was nothing really wrong with my hair, but I guess we all have that season when we feel like we want to do something life changing. You know that time when you just want to resign from your job, jump on a plane and go surfing. Well, I couldn’t do the surfing thing so I decided to do something more radical – I shaved my hair!
I didn’t know how it would make me feel but it was one of the most liberating things I have ever done! And it also came at a time when photos of most of the people who had short hair were doing the rounds on social media. I would be glad to let you know that my photo appeared alongside those of our first lady Margaret Kenyatta, and other first ladies such as Janet Museveni and Jeanette Kagame to name but a few – photo-shopped of course.
Not many people were amused of course and I had to bear with the gasps and angry stares from my friends. Others were honest enough to ask what bug had bitten me while others just wished they could be as courageous as I was. I was having a blast experimenting.
A few months later, I decided to let it grow again, this time I was going all natural! So I descended on braiding with gusto! Before I knew it, my hair had grown long! You see, if you have hair like mine, seeing it grow beyond five inches is a call for celebration. And it is also the very light kind so to actually see it form a real afro was quite a feat! So here I was, loving my afro and wearing it everywhere. And I was getting the love and support from both expected and unexpected quarters. My husband loved the afro and a few strangers acknowledge it too.
But then there were question from a few people. At first I thought these were just some concerned ‘friends’ who wanted me to have a treat in some spa or something. But then the questions kept coming, some from acquaintances who I barely knew. And if I thought I was the only one raising eyebrows, I was wrong. I even witnessed a friend get battered on why she hadn’t made her hair, yet her hair was clean and neat and natural. She kept being asked the same question I was getting: “Why haven’t you made your hair?”
I washed my hair every weekend and combed it with a blow dryer so it was not tangled or anything. She too had good, clean, well groomed natural hair yet we still were expected to go to the salon and ‘do our hair”.
Is something wrong with my African hair? Do I have to relax it or put on a weave for me it to be properly ‘made’? I have grown to hate weaves with time but I’m not going to go all hate-mode on weaves but for the life of me I cannot understand why there seems to be so much discrimination against my African hair!
I’m not planning to relax it (it has not informed me that it is tired and needs to relax yet) and I’m also not planning to weave it. I hope more African girls can be more proud of their hair and show it off more often – long, short, dread locks, pop corn – show it off ladies!