My Natural Resources

Society & Culture | By Kay Terera, Speaker / Designer | 28 December 2016

So, what’s the story with your hair?  I hear that question a lot so, forget history, today I am going to share my hairstory.

I’ve had a hate-love relationship with my hair for the longest time.  I say hate-love and not love-hate because I hated my hair before I grew to love it.  As a child sporting a pair of fluffy pom poms on her head, I often wondered why it was that my hair didn’t flow in silky waves like the women that I so admired on television.  I wanted my hair to blow and float all around me like the damsels in magazines.  Never mind the fact that there was no fan in my room. I wanted “the look”.  I hated my hair because it did not conform to the carefully crafted image of beauty that I had been conditioned to accept as the gold standard.

The “love” part of my relationship with my hair developed later in life as I gradually evolved into a woman comfortable in her own skin and the hair growing up (not down) from her scalp.  I have now come to accept the kinks, the coils and all the frizz in between and have been happily sporting natural hair for over a decade now.  Through this journey of nurturing my natural hair, I have learnt three valuable lessons that can be applied to the broader, fuller journey of life.

The first thing that natural hair has taught me is patience.  Factors such as dryness, and tangles mean that it may takes a minute before I see the growth of my own strands. But with practiced care and persistence, the length will materialise just as the tortoise showed the hare that a little patience goes a long way. 

 

But as Afrikan hair grows longer and longer the wash days will test your patience.  For long haired naturalistas, a wash day can literally be just that: a wash DAY!  Between the pre-shampooing, deep conditioning, detangling and finally styling, it can feel like forever and a day.  But when done right, the results make it all worth the trouble.  All this proves is that some of the best things in life are worth waiting for and painstakingly working towards.

The second lesson that my hair has taught me is sisterhood.  Every naturalista has experienced that moment when you’re walking down the street, minding your own business when through the corner of your eye, you catch a glimpse of another woman rocking her natural hair.  Her glorious afro, twists, updo, locs or cornrows draw you in until you have to force yourself to snap out of it because you remember that your mother told you that it is rude to stare.  But just as you decide to pull yourself away from gazing as that striking hair, you notice that the woman rocking that hair is just as mesmerized with your hair.  At that point, you smile at each other, which is the female equivalent of the brotherly nod.  You may even do the bold thing and make her day by telling her you like her hair. That right there is the connection, the bond, the sisterhood that natural hair ignites in women of the natural persuasion.

Finally, the third thing that natural hair has taught me about life is what it means to love.  I have often found that my hair is very much like person. It loves to eat.  When I go shopping, I’m shopping for two: chicken salad and chocolate ice cream for me; olive oil, coconut oil, honey and avocadoes for my hair.

Just like a person, my hair can be moody when it wants to be, doing everything in its will to go against my wishes.  But one thing I’ve realized is that you can cajole your hair into submission.  Just like bae needs some tender loving care, your natural hair will love you for it if you deal with it gently and affirm it by treating it right.  Natural hair responds to scalp massages, nourishment and frequent cleansing by floursing and looking glossy and full of life.  Essentially, just like anything (or anyone) in your life be it your body, your friend or your mind, if you love it, it will love you back!

It is these three lessons that inspired me to arrange a time to celebrate the sisterhood of naturalistas at the My Natural Resources hair meet-up held on the 5th of November 2016 at Pan Afrika restaurant.  At the event women got to fellowship and learn best practices for natural hair and appreciate how beautiful natural hair is and all the valuable life lessons that our kinks and coils can teach us.