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True Life: I Went to West Africa with Natural Hair and Got Mixed Reactions

• Mar 13, 2013

My hair in Nigeria ( I was stuck in a dingy hotel room…shudder)

By Christabel of ChysCurlz

If you’ve read this post I wrote a while ago, you know that natural hair is not the norm in Africa and as much as that sounds non intuitive, it just isn’t. And boy, did my hair become an object of much debate when I went home!

There were the few who thought it was “cool” and “how can your hair do that”, “I’m sure you have some texturizer in it”, “oh it must be an American thing”, and “I can’t imagine not having a relaxer in my hair.” So, yeah, I got those responses for sure. What really threw me off though was the constant prodding by a select few to “fix” my hair or make it more “manageable”. Quite a few people thought it looked like locs and assumed that I never comb my hair and this in their opinion was unacceptable.

I tried as much as possible to educate people whom I sensed were genuinely curious and just let the haters hate. I also tried to play if off as nothing but the truth of the matter is that it really got to me how uneducated my fellow Africans were when it comes to natural hair. As in ZERO clue that natural hair can have a curl pattern that does not need to be combed out to ensure it’s manageability. What people are used to when it comes to natural hair is, chronically dry and damaged hair that is super un-moisturized and painful to comb through.

The ladies at the braiding shop blew my hair out. I had to comb it myself because they approached me with a fine tooth comb!

And then 6 of them gave me the tiniest braids ever!

Said Braids

I went to both Nigeria and Ghana and I must say that the response was more favorable in Ghana than it was in Nigeria. I even went to a “natural hair salon” in Ghana where they did two strand twists and loc extensions ( the newest rage). But even here, it was apparent at how even the stylists were uneducated when it comes to basics of moisture + natural hair = best friends. Here, I witnessed torturous sessions with fine tooth combs being raked through dry hair with no moisturizer and women wincing in pain through the whole thing. But as I said before, there is some progress because at least these ladies had the courage to ditch the creamy crack in a culture that is so dependent on it.

Alas, I left really satisfied that I had equipped my mama with the tools of the trade to continue on her natural journey and my best friend is going natural. So, yeah, amidst all the negativity, there exists some positivity.

Now, onto my plans to take the natural hair revolution to my home countries!



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