Features

Going kinky in Brazilian hair age

SISTA D

VIOLET MENGO, Lusaka
IN THIS era of hair extensions and wigs, many women opt for artificial hair, justifying their preference with the claim that natural hair, being kinky, is difficult to maintain.
Most women feel maintaining natural hair is not easy especially during the times when they are in a hurry or have deadlines to beat.
“My hair is so difficult to comb, I cannot go out without covering it with a wig,” Lungowe Kashowelela says.
Ms Kashowelela says she finds it easy to use synthetic hair because she is a busy person.
The use of synthetic hair among career women, businesswomen and other ‘busy’ women in Zambia has become common.
While some women have become accustomed to using hair extensions and perming their hair, others are happy with their natural hair.
They argue that hair extensions and other synthetic hair types tend to erode the unique identity that natural hair gives to an African woman.
One such woman is Daputsa Zulu, known as Sista D in the music circles, who is passionate about maintaining natural hair.
She formed Afri-Pride, a non-profit organisation, to champion the need for African women and men to take pride in their natural hair.
Afri-Pride started as a dream by Sista-D three years ago to come up with something that would promote indigenous African beauty.
“The first thing that came to mind was hair. Hair is our identity and if we lose that identity, we are a lost generation. Not to pass judgement on people that are not like-minded, but this is to bring to light how beautiful natural hair is and the freedom it comes with,” Sista D says
According to her, African hair is unique when compared to the hair that people of other races have.
“Our hair texture is different compared to other races,” she says.
She is concerned that in today’s society, a woman in natural hair after removing artificial hair will say that she’s having a bad hair day.
Before a make-over with artificial hair, some women would often post pictures of their natural hair on social media and caption it as “a bad hair day”.
Sista D is often riled by such sentiments by women in reference to their God-given hair.
“There is a lot of negativity towards natural hair and that is the attitude we would like to change,” she says.
In the world of work, a woman spotting human hair such as Brazilian, Peruvian and Indian hair will often be complemented as looking beautiful. On the other hand, the one with natural hair may be seen as dirty, easy-going, unprofessional and socially unacceptable.
Sista D says Africans started wearing wigs in the 14th century when slave masters gave them certain types of wigs for identification purposes.
She said blacks with a lighter skin tone and curly hair were promoted as domestic servants, while those with a darker skin with kinky hair were relegated to the fields.
This is one of the reasons why she doesn’t like wearing wigs.
The artiste holds that African women should be proud of their natural hair and there is no need to feel inferior for keeping kinky hair. She argues further that women shouldn’t succumb to society’s standards for beauty which implies that straight hair or Caucasian hair is beautiful
For these reasons, Afri-Pride celebrated Natural Hair Day, an occasion where women stepped on the catwalk to showcase different kinky hair styles to encourage women to take pride in natural hair. The occasion was also used to share tips for maintaining natural hair and keeping it beautiful.
Natural hair lovers and women that have challenges of maintaining natural hair found the day productive.
Sista D said natural hair, just like hair extensions, needs good care for it to look stylish and healthy.
In terms of maintenance, natural hair is, however, different compared to other forms of hair as one needs to understand one’s kind of hair and texture to keep it well.
Despite the texture varieties, people with natural hair can use the same hair care products and upkeep techniques to maintain healthy hair.
“The most important technique anyone with natural hair should know is to keep it strong and healthy, of course with proper detangling and moisturising (efforts). The right shampoo and conditioner does the magic,” a representative from Hair Seed said as she washed people‘s hair at the event.
She demonstrated how natural hair should be washed and later allowed women to ask questions, which she adequately answered.
Caroline Moyo has kept natural hair most of her life, after a bad experience with permed hair.
Her major challenge was finding products and tools to use for her hair. For Caroline, like many other Zambian women who have opted to keep natural hair, the challenge was about getting hands-on information for a healthy hair maintenance for a busy woman.
“I wash my hair twice a week, deep-condition and oil it, thereafter style it or twist it in my African style,” Ms Moyo said.
In the night, Ms Moyo simply moisturises her hair with water and oil, and sometimes she uses coconut oil to lubricate the scalp.
She does not use direct heat to dry her hair, but rather dries it with a blower while masking it with a towel to protect it from extreme heat.
Although sharing a similar campaign but not in cohort with Sista D, ZedHair is one website that provides information that encourages African women to have confidence in afro beauty.
Lovers of natural hair across gender as well as hair dressers find the website handy in terms of giving out information on how to maintain natural hair.
The Natural Hair Day was a must-attend event for women who can’t go outdoors without a wig because they have lost their hairline due to over-usage of synthetic hair.
Presenters at the event stressed that kinky hair is the simplest hair to style because it can adapt to different twists and natural weaves. Apparently one just needs to grasp a few basic tips that were shared at the Natural Hair Day and one will never want to spend so much on artificial hair again.
The lesson at the show was that many women think kinky hair is difficult to maintain because they don’t know who to care for it and style it.
And perhaps for others, it is just a perception that kinky hair isn’t beautiful.

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