06 March, 2013

My Natural Hair Experience In Africa

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



  1. I would like to share with you that the reason that you got that reaction is because just because they are black people in Africa does not mean that they are your people. The real Africans cannot stand us as so-called African Americans. Most of us are in Ghana and that is why they were more favorable of you than Nigeria.

    1. Hi Yolanda im sorry that is the perception you have of Africans' attitudes towards African Americans. Honestly what I noticed from her post is that she was met with resistance in both Ghana and Nigeria. But the Ghanaians were more receptive to her hair. I see that the reason for this is that the attitude towards natural hair is more open minded there -evidence being the natural hair salon. I just think it's a matter of opening people's minds and not whether or not one is african or african american. Even when i go to the salon im still faced with hairdressers coming at me with fine tooth combs and wanting to blow my already salon-prepped and blow dried hair. When i go home to Zambia some people do ask how i manage my hair natural and rough. A lot of people still have the mentality that natural hair is rough and unruly and needs to be 'managed ' with a perm. Right now i live in Namibia and just two days ago, a fellow natural was telling me about a lady she met in a taxi who told her that her boss said she should either relax her hair or put a weave in it because it is 'unprofessional' to keep her hair natural. And that was said one Namibian to another. So it's not really about Africans hating African-Americans. It's about the the level of exposure in a country. That's the way I see it.

  2. Hi Chi Chi, its nice to see a Nigerian natural. I am Acharacha and I am going natural, four months post relaxer. You know natural hair is a relatively new thing in the US and to a large extent Nigerians are strongly influenced by the US ans UK. That said, the natural hair community is actually slowly growing in Nigeria and I guess that in three years time, the story will be different.

    Currently there are a number of ladies who have natural hair blogs in Nigeria which includes me, lol. Last month or so, a lady opened up the very first natural hair product shop in Nigeria. For the past two years, a lady known as Natural Nigerian started a natural hair meet up in Lagos. A meet up is actually coming up in April and I am sure the crowd will be more this year than the last.

    So the natural hair community is growing and more people are becoming aware of the whole concept. I just subbed to your blog and would love to sub to your youtube channel if you have one.

  3. Hi Chichi, the more of your posts i read, the more i consider cutting my hair. I am a little over 3 years natural now, and I'm convinced something is wrong with me because my hair is thin and all kinds of scanty. I absolutely love short hair, and it suites you so well. Thanks for having this blog and your YT channel; i just subscribed!
    PS: are you Nigerian or Ghanaian or both? hehe... I'm Nigerian

  4. Hello guys,

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