Being an African girl in a foreign country quickly becomes a hairy situation.
I first read about the ordeals of dealing with african hair when living abroad in Chimamanda Ngozi’s ‘Americanah’. To be honest, I had not fully internalized the magnitude of it all before my departure to a foreign, far away land. Here are a few things I have learnt along the way:
1. Taking Care Of Natural Hair Is Hard
When most black girls move to a different country, they prefer to cut their hair and start on a natural hair journey. And while going natural has been so romanticised, no one tells you of the struggle you go through trying to master how to get your twist out right. No one tells you of the many times your hair will be written off as ‘unprofessional’ because it does not fit Western standards of beauty. It should also be put out there that natural hair products cost an arm and a leg often denting our already struggling budgets.
2.You Will Surely Miss Kenyatta Market
As I have so learned, the lack of a neighborhood salons or Kenyatta Market will make you learn how to be resourceful. You will either have to learn how to braid your hair or you will make friends with someone gifted at it. If not, you will often have to spend lots of money just to get your hair braided.
3. Attention! Attention! Attention!
It does not matter if your hair is in braids or dreadlocks or it is just out in a ‘fro, your hair always draws attention. Most of the conversations I have with people in public spaces often start with questions about my hair. How do I braid it? How do I maintain it? Can this be done to my own hair? The worst case scenario for me is being asked if I wash my hair and how many times I do it. Along with this, are people who just tug at your braids out of curiosity. No questions asked. These kind of people make me want to blast Solange’s “Don’t touch my hair” on repeat until they understand how rude it is. One must also understand that there is a high chance that one will be subject to stereotypes for example; if you wear dreads people think you are a weed smoking hippie.
This article was written by Capital Campus Correspondent Garnet Achieng’.