My afro days started when I was still a baby…
I was only 6 months old when my mother started combing my afro out, she has always been an afro fan, so this all started as her own journey with my hair to being my own journey years later, although she remained the influence behind it. When I was in Primary school she would have my hair ‘blown out’ at the salon, comb my hair in up-dos in the morning before I went to school, other times she’d have me make that ‘Rebecca Malope’ cut lol and sometimes S-curl. Just like any other black girl back then, I had a fair share of chemicals used on my hair and it was very exciting at the time.
Fast forward to the year I made this journey my own, it was back in 2004, I was in grade 10, it was the same year that I was diagnosed with asthma, I’d been absent from school for a full 10 days, it was a very emotional time for me as I lost out on a lot of school work and was not coping with what I didn’t know yet was asthma. After all that trauma I felt like change, something that was going to give me a somewhat ‘fresh start’, my mother suggested that I cut my hair and grow natural hair, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands, I had the big chop! It was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. I started experimenting with natural hair products, my afro grew and I kept it throughout high school, I loved it so much and I’ve since fallen in love. I was ‘famous’ for my afro at school and even today people I used to go to school with still refer to me as “Kani wane wa afro” hahahaha.
Moving to tertiary, I didn’t wear my afro as much, I focused on growing it instead. Moving out of home and being a little independent came with the excitement of wanting to try new things, so for the first time in 2009, when I was doing my 2nd year in tertiary, I started weaving my hair, and did my ‘fro respond well?! I’d keep a weave for two months, you know moes student budget is tight like that kwaaks! And I achieved the longest hair length ever! For a reason I can’t remember, I cut my hair once again sometimes that year.
The journey has not been without temptations, in 2010 I decided to ‘relax’ my hair for my 21st birthday that December, once again ‘I felt like change’. So I put on that weave that has to “blend in” with a section of your hair, it looks very good on me, however the excitement did not last because after I took out the weave I had no clue what to do with my hair, I did not even like what I saw in the mirror. India Ariel says “I’m not my hair”, but I sing a different song because I felt like I lost myself when I relaxed my afro, I am my hair.
I tolerated the relaxed hair until I felt I couldn’t do it anymore, I had another chop in September 2011, I felt so refreshed! The hair had so much glow, well partly because of pregnancy, I was pregnant with my daughter and did not know it yet. Pregnancy accelerated the hair growth and it was so rich and beautiful, I was in love once again!
Temptations wouldn’t leave me alone, there came that weave again, a few years later, the one that needs to blend in with my own hair, the one that looks very good on me?? Yes that one! Lol that weave is the devil because it got me using chemicals on a portion of my hair, this time I decided to sacrifice JUST a portion of my hair lol like that was going to help coz I suffered the consequences aaaaanyway! Kikikikikikiki
I’ve grown a lot from then coz I’ve realised I only get temporary satisfaction from all that, so I decided I’m never gambling with my natural hair again! I’ve also just fell out of love with weaves over the years, I can’t even remember the last time I put on one.
What I love about my natural hair is how BEAUTIFUL I feel when I’m wearing it, I feel like I can just conquer the world nje (on those good days when it’s behaving of course lol)
I think what I actually love the most is the fact that I can wear my hair natural and go out there and still slay and actually even feeeeeel myself without any issues of insecurity. I also love how unapologetic I become when I’m wearing my afro, the level of confidence is out of this world. Even on the bad hair-days, there’s still lots of confidence in there, like I don’t have to make any excuses for my hair, its NATURAL, know what I mean?????
Moving on to the bad hair days, I don’t stress much about those, I usually just wear a doek, and I’ve got lots of them that I can incorporate with my outfits, and life goes on…
One thing that helps make the journey bearable on those not so good days is the fact that all the women close to my heart also grow natural hair, my mother, my younger sis, my sis in-law and even my little daughter J so we share tips and encourage each other.
The biggest challenge I’ve always had with my hair is the shrinking L L L it’s an ongoing struggle, sometimes people would even ask if I’ve cut my hair, so it goes back and forth. On days when I’m lucky enough and the length is at its peak, I take lots of pictures as a form of evidence lmao kidding.
The other challenge is the breaking of hair, our African natural hair is very dry so that’s also an ongoing struggle.
What I do to keep my hair protected and healthy?? Ok let’s see, I’ve had the typical hair regime for the longest time, I wash with any good shampoo and I have enjoyed using the cholesterol conditioner from Avon for many years, then I apply hair food, sometimes I use hair fertilizers. There are natural hair tips that Lebogang Mashile shared on facebook that I would love to try out one of these days, I’m so in love with her afro! <3 and also the likes of Pearl Thuli, I follow any woman who takes pride in her natural hair 😉
I love braiding my hair and I’m glad that’s also a way of protecting it from harsh climate conditions, I wear hats and try out different protective styles in winter. I also wear head wraps a lot, and it works in favour for my hair, coz afro needs a break from ‘exposure’ once in a while. Ever since I made a decision of not wearing ‘weaves’ anymore, I have embarked on a very exciting journey of trying out different braiding hairstyles for African hair, I recently surprised my family and myself too (lol) and went for the red box braids lol the feedback was not positive kwaaaks but I loved it!!!
Growing natural hair is hard work, not for the faint-hearted, survival of the fittest, I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times but I will never give up!