25th January, 2011
Recently, I started feeling bad about us, African women. I started this year with soÂ much pain thinking about our long lost African Heritage. We have thrown away our ownÂ culture. We have unconsciously embraced the culture of the white man thereby taggingÂ our own â€œunacceptableâ€ and â€œbarbaricâ€.
Like I said last week, we keep talking about slave trade coming to an end centuriesÂ before our birth when in the actual sense we are still slaves to the white men.
It pains me when I look around us and see so much that nature has blessed us with,Â but we are busy enjoying the culture of the white man and promoting everything aboutÂ them while they assist in making sure our own culture is dead and buried. Like Dr.Â Uma Ukpai once said; Africans are a people who look, but donâ€™t see; when they see,Â they donâ€™t appreciate; when they appreciate, they donâ€™t celebrate.Girls, this is theÂ major cause of our problems as Africans.
I tried to do a little research into the origin of all these wigs and long/sleekÂ hair madness. I tried to look at those social institutions that have shaped howÂ African â€œnappy â€œhair is perceived. I also tried to find out what black hair standsÂ for in todayâ€™s society.
According to James A. Rawley, during the transatlantic slave trade (17th century),Â the time when blacks were deported from the â€œDark Continentâ€ (Africa) into theÂ Caribbean and America; black women were dehumanized and made to feel inferior asÂ their hair was viewed as wild and animalistic. You know all our fathers and mothersÂ went through in the hands of their taskmasters. As the slave trade continued, whiteÂ supremacy rose and blacks became more inferior. Black women were sexually abused andÂ impregnated giving rise to children with lighter skin and longer hair close to thoseÂ of the Europeans. These mixed women were treated specially and taught how to readÂ and write because they closely resemble the colonistsâ€™ race. This led black womenÂ into using heat to straightening their hair for a better relationship with theÂ whites.
With the introduction of relaxers in 1920s by Madam C.J. Walker, African women wereÂ able to secure better jobs among the whites. Most black hair care companies todayÂ are still owned and controlled by Caucasians with their advertisements gearedÂ towards discrediting our black hair for better sales. It is really sad how we haveÂ fallen so cheap to these antics of the white man. They use the media to make usÂ believe that our natural hair is animalistic while theirs is sleek and beautiful.
This is one advert I have decided to kick against. What makes them think I shouldÂ have their very own hair texture? I didnâ€™t go too far in blaming them because weÂ accepted it. It was only towards the end of the year my eyes were opened to theÂ truth and I vowed never to go for all those attachments simply because I want to beÂ like them. As an African woman, I love myself and I donâ€™t want to be like any otherÂ person. I am one person that is so blessed with a very high self-esteem and thatÂ makes me not to believe there is anyone better than I am. I know some of you will beÂ wondering; why is she talking about African hair when her picture shows theÂ opposite. That picture was taken last year when I was one of their slaves. WheneverÂ my work permits me, you will have my new pictures, but you can also see my new lookÂ on facebook.
I am one person who does not spend on clothes what I spend on my hair. Few weeksÂ before Christmas, a Liberian friend called me after he saw my picture on facebookÂ with my natural hair. He pleaded with me not to give up my natural beauty for allÂ those stuff women wear. He reminded me about the beauty of an African woman whichÂ has been lost a long time since we started struggling to become what we are not.Â While he was still talking, I started reflecting on the glory of the African woman.Â I remembered my mumâ€™s pictures where you see the natural beauty. I remember seeingÂ some pictures posted by my older friends on facebook, pictures taken in the 70s whenÂ women were with so much glory.
I didnâ€™t stop there, I remembered Chris Kehinde Nwandu posting a comment on facebookÂ on how everything about African women is now false-false eyelashes, false hair,Â false nails, false eyeballs, false pregnancy, false virginity, false, false, false.IÂ may not have done the false lashes, not because I couldnâ€™t have done it, but becauseÂ I was just too scared for my eyes. But I tried to calculate the amount of money IÂ spend on false nails and artificial hair; my God, it was mind blowing. I realized IÂ have spent so much on frivolities-Brazilian and Indian hair. I also asked myself aÂ question; is God happy with you for not acknowledging what he has made you to be?Â This and other reasons which I will let you know in my next article, made me to takeÂ the vow never to have those things on my hair and nails again.Initially,it wasÂ difficult for my kids to adapt to my new look, but gradually they have come toÂ acceptÂ and respect me more for being real.
Girls, there is so much glory on us as Black women, but we have gradually lost itÂ all. I also did a little research about our own Afro hair and what it stands for. WeÂ all know that most people look at you as weird and wild when they see you wearÂ afro.Girls, my finding was a very interesting one. In 1970s, African women, afterÂ sufferi