Women and hair

With all the sorry stories about Nigeria lately, it is uplifting seeing women taking care of business that is theirs.

I am quite pleased to read about the work of African Hair Summit, they are working to promote beauty of African hair amongst many other worthy objectives. I like that the event was well attended last year, this is going to open up long due conversations amongst women within Nigeria. 

As a mother of two girls, I often forget that the older my girls grow, the more assertive they  become so now they ask for reasons I don’t allow them to use relaxer. The relaxer question is easy to answer because it damages hair.

My girls are in primary school. I know that kids talk and ask one another questions they are curious about during playtime, so if a 10 year old was asked why she applied relaxer to her hair, what could she say to her mates that will not translate to ‘my hair is not good enough?’

Sometimes last week, I was trying to get my daughter ready for a school trip so I asked which hairstyle she’d like to do given it is a full week away. Out of nowhere, the girl flipped, for a moment I thought the spirit of Yemoja has entered. She was upset saying nothing she did ever worked.

She loves her hair, she says. Why is the outburst if hair is not the problem?

Background – the day before, we were talking about getting hair done, so she went online to get hair style inspiration. She liked this. She thinks the girl has the coolest parents ever to allow that hair style. I think the hairstyle looks cool too but I think it is more appropriate during summer holiday.

I have just realised that while my girls seem to agree when I give reasons they are not ready for some style yet, it is only temporary, every holiday we tend to go over the same topic all over again as there is always something new in town.

I am excited for this hair summit, and really hope that as time goes on there will be more interested people across the country. My girls are always quick to remind me of friends and family who allow their kids to have hair extension, then I have to explain that each family is different, I wore low cut throughout both primary and secondary years and most importantly hair politics in Nigeria is on a whole different level from the west.

I don’t want my girls’ hair to become the only point of reference. Even their dad was amazed to read all about black hair talk that now the only thing he has not learned is to braid.

By the way, now I am learning to hear the girl out so we meet in the middle. She likes Willow’s hair so we did cornrow to match – everyone is happy. She later told me she will be careful not to get hair wet, I don’t even know where she got that from so I said she is allowed to get her hair wet everyday, if friends are dunking their head in water, go ahead and do the same because it is fun, dry it off like everyone else.

She smiled and gave a big hug.

People seem to think mixed race kids don’t have black hair wahala, I laugh at this because being mixed race is even trickier as whatever they do or don’t do get measured against which part of them they are most proud of – silly world.

I am really pleased to see that there is growing enthusiasm around opening up conversations on our hair. Adults can and will continue to do whatever they are so pleased with their hair, having said that, children need avenue where they can learn more about their choices and to embrace what they have without having to drag other race into the conversation.

There is a hair event coming up in August organised by Curly Treats, I love this, we already know our hair is a big issue, it is our job to make it easier for coming generations. 

The clip here is from Nigeria African Hair Summit last year. It is nice to seen celebrities getting involved.

22 thoughts on “Women and hair

  1. I like the twist and turns of this post especially bargaining with your girls 😀 It is great to hear about how we are promoting our Nigerian hair – dos. Personally I am not a fan of children applying relaxer on their hair. For me they are just too young for the stress. Check out how some kids hair breaks and their mother will have to cut it to grow an even hair length!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you ‘Bisi. As we say ‘aye omo la wa’ Agreed, no kid deserves to be put through needless stress. Future looks brighter when women pull off the covers over issues that directly affect us…


  2. Dear Folakemi,

    Thanks, and more thanks for this very useful – but more – a most beautiful post. And, your meeting the two young ladies in the middle is very interesting; they learn to persuade from very young ages!

    I love your daughter’s classic old braid, and great you let readers know it does not require “hours” so that they can try it. It’s a very wearable style that can go formal or casual. A supple-handed grownup can do the style with two mirrors but she would have to reduce the number of parts; I’m not good at braiding or weaving but I used to do mine into 4 or, at most, 6 way back in afro days.

    Thanks, too, for the pix from the HAIR SUMMIT: my, oh my, very varied and interesting styles most of which seem not to have tasted relaxers!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Mrs Adenle.

      True, sometimes we only spend as little as 5 minutes for 6 thick cornrows and it looks neat for a whole week.
      I only learn to braid from their hair and now they practice on each other. I think salon sometimes isn’t the best place for young black girls, parents of today need to step up and live by example and plus I just can’t justify the expense, maybe I am too ‘cheap’ 🙂 – money at a salon for both is equivalent to what we spent for the whole family at a nice drive-through Longleat zoo, experience stays for life, hairdo is obsolete within two weeks at most.

      Good observation re hair summit, that is what I love the most about that summit, people can see that within the country there are so many successful and beautiful of different age group wearing their own hair – that representation is powerful.


      1. Dear Folakemi,

        The pleasure of contributing to discourse here is also mine.

        There’s nothing CHEAP in doing your girls’ hair, and there definitely is noting CHEAP in teaching the young ladies a mastery of learning to save from early ages. And they must be having fun learning to do each other’s hair. I know they wouldn’t be going to boarding schools in Nigeria but this is an aside, the seniors would take advantage of their capability and before they know it, each would be braiding for multiple seniors every weekend!

        Sincere regards,

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This was a beautiful read ma. I loved that hairstyle too, but as I wasn’t allowed too much freedom with my hair, I resorted to braiding a similar hairstyle like your daughter’s and loving it too. I even loosed one a few weeks ago but with twisting instead of braids 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!

      We love twists too, we have done it a few times, directly or restyled from loose braids.

      Re freedom, I see brighter future with our hair, sisters will have to work together to define what beautiful hair looks like starting from our little ones.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the way your daughter’s hair is braided. It must have taken you hours!!

    Willow Smith’s style is awesome.

    I watched a documentary once on hairdos and it compared texture of hair for different nationalities.

    To a hair stylist, black African hair is harder to manage, next comes my Asian hair, which I fondly call a “mop” and the easiest is caucasian as it is “cotton wool texture”…thanks for sharing this.😊

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, but I think schools in the States have slightly different policy re uniform/hair and of course the fact that the girl has super star parents so rules may not strictly apply to them.

          With internet, the ‘line’ is blurred to kids hence I become a preacher without ordination lol

          Liked by 1 person

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