As part of my new “Natural Hair Journey”, I thought I would share with you guys my hair history. If you read my “About Me” Page or watched my “Big Chop” Video, then you know that I am originally from Tanzania. Tanzania is a beautiful country in Eastern Africa, that is often known for having the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro, The Serengeti which is one of the Seven Natural Wonders in Africa and the Swahili language. “Hakuna Matata” anyone? That is where I grew up, so it would only be fair if I start telling my story from the beginning.
The earliest memory I have concerning hair care, is from the time I was between 6 to 12 years old. During this time, I attended what we call Primary School, Grade 1 to 7. I attended a government public school, as a school requirement girls were either required to have short hair or have their hair in cornrows. Most of the girls wore cornrows. The cornrows were supposed to be straight down, no designs, extensions or accessories were to be added to the hair.
Similar to the look Ciara and Jada are rocking in the pictures below, except I don’t remember us thinking it was glamorous. In fact we hated it.We could not wait for Friday night so we can undo it and have our hair in buns and puffs. Sundays was also our favorite day because it meant we got to show of our hair in church. Holidays were the best because then we got to wear our hair in extensions and micro braids.
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Image Source: WireImage Via www.Goodhousekeeping.com
Even though we all had our hair done the same way, girls being girls, we still found a way to compare our hair length. We had two criteria. The first was the length of the ends. Those who had longer hair often had longer ends. The second being how many cornrows you had in your head. The less cornrows meant you had longer hair. Those with long hair would often have two, three or four cornrows. Any more than that meant your hair was short. The school did end up catching up with our little game and we were soon told that it was now prohibited to have less than five cornrows in our heads.
Of course there was another perk in having long hair, it meant you didn’t spend a long time getting your hair done. As children we would rather be out playing than having to get our hair braided. Most of us would procrastinate until Sunday night to get our hair done. Hair was often done by a professional stylist, who in our native language, Swahili, is called a “Msusi”. Having your hair done at the “Msusi” meant you get to keep your hair the whole week without redoing it. Because another requirement at the school is that the hair had to be neat throughout the week, no fly aways or old looking hair. If your hair gets messy before the week ends it meant you had to get your hair did on Wednesday again. Or endure punishment, but that is another story altogether.
Every morning before class we had a special session, where we would all stand in line and the teacher’s would pass through to make sure our hair amongst many other things were up to standard. Otherwise you would get punished for your tardiness. The neatest looking students would be called upfront of and praised. That meant they often became the popular kids.
In retrospect, that should of been my first lesson in hair care, having hair in a protective style is not the only factor that contributes to long healthy hair.
So of course, us girls with the short hair tried to find out, why the other girls had long hair while we had short hair. We came up with two reasons, that we could gather. Some of the girls who had long hair had relaxers and the others had Arabic or Indian influence in their family genetics. And so the quest for the coveted relaxer began. I don’t remember exactly when I got a relaxer, all I remember is it didn’t make my hair any longer, but it was much easier for me to style on the weekends and I was now in the “IN” group, the group of “girls with relaxer”.
Watch the video below to hear me talking about my childhood hair story.
What are some of your childhood hair stories? share your stories in the comments below.
Thanks so much for reading,
Will see you in the next post,
’till then much love and stay blessed,