This is for African Girls with the Hidden Crowns –

If you have ever heard your name and steel wire, makonge (sisal), nappy, kichwa ngumu (hard headed) hair mentioned in the same sentence – I am here for you.

If you have ever looked at the 2B-3C haired girls with a mixture of contempt and jealousy – I am here for you.

If you have ever cried trying to comb your hair – I am here for you.

If you consider shrinkage your deadliest enemy – I am here for you.

If your hair has multiple personality disorder and antisocial tendencies – I am here for you.

If you have a “bad hair day”, all day, every week, every year – I am here for you.

If weaves, wigs, perms, braids have become an unhealthy coping skill – I am here for you.

If the salonist has a better relationship with your hair than you do – do not fret, I am here for you.

There is nothing like looking in the mirror and getting into a staring contest with your hair. Looking at the tight curls and massive shrinkage like a foreign body intent on destroying the image that we have worked hours and sometimes, days – to create. The “laid, baby-hair, straight, bouncy, full, shapely” is an Icarus dream for many of us – unless of course you can afford a successful head transplant.

The crown atop your head is here to stay beloved, it is time you took her out of the closet, look at her for who she is and shine that diamond in the rough into the jewel that she is.

How do you start?

Accept yourself

This can be hard. Many of us did not have natural hair role models to look up to. When we looked up, we saw hair as something to be controlled and managed – taken down and wrapped back up again in the comfort of salonists who we depended on to maintain our identity. Ladies in intricate styles dotted the salon magazines and made us wonder if we would ever have the type of mane that would be photograph worthy. I remember being so scared, left alone to cope  with my hair in America – no salon, no auntie, nothing. I had no idea of what it was and what it could become – how could I deal with that? No matter how I tried to comb it, twist it, shape it, curl it, *insert anything else you have ever tried to do* it to make it look like Nadia Buari, Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton – it never worked. I suppose at some point after feeling like I was hitting a brick wall – I had no choice but to change my prescription and gain the courage to look at my hair again with new eyes.

Cole Burston/TORONTO STAR

Listen to your hair

How would you feel if you were constantly being pushed around, back and forth, forced to be something you are not, constantly prodded and changed to please someone with authority over you, any effort to be yourself met with contempt and additional torture? That’s what we do to our hair! Have you ever let your hair have a vacation!? Shampooed, lathered and rubbed it down like your most precious loved one? Exempting those with medical conditions that also affect hair, what you put in is what you get. Some of us run our hair into the ground with harsh chemicals and tight extensions, wondering why your edges are pulling a disappearing act. How can you expect to reap where you did not sow?

Experiment

The internet came to liberate. You do not have to feel alone anymore. Support groups abound online with people willing to put their hair on the line for your education and entertainment. YouTube videos, natural hair websites and tutorials have become the new hair advisors, opening our worlds to new styles, products, and philosophies of loving our hair. This is all at your fingertips – let your fingers do the walking! You have to try something – between 2010 and 2018 I have rocked everything from braids, colored hair, short hair to wigs, from multiple hair products littering my counter to a simple butter formula that keeps my hair well fed and ready for whatever I might do next. Courage is key.

Kumechacha! love the hair you are in

Your hair is your most authentic self. USE IT!

Your hair is like the queen that refuses to be knocked down and out. You better stop hating on her and start appreciating the tenacity. All those strooong African genes that gave you that melanin, beautiful nails, skin and body is also the same that gave you your hair – rejecting your hair is like rejecting yourself. Beloved – why fight yourself? If your hair continuously defies gravity – my sister you are destined for heaven. If your hair packs the tightest, smallest curls – my dear – you have beautiful clay waiting to be molded at your fingertips. If your hair has multiple personalities – sweetheart, you have infinite lives, infinite styles.

Change your hair narrative, and watch what happens.

Watch Kumechacha! talk more about the politics of hair and other awesome topics

Tujipange African Media