Embrace the Follicle!

I’m guilty. This has been weeks – okay, fine, months – overdue but it’s been more to do with how to avoid sounding effeminate about my hair. And that’s just the thing. I think a lot of Zambian males have cardboard cut-out personalities because they lack the character or rebellion to wear their hair fashionably.

I’ve been sporting my hairstyle for two years and it’s been dividing opinion like Marmite.

My hairstyle was a two-pronged response to the headache of having to get a haircut every other week and the increasingly blurred line between the black African and, well, black anything else. Yes – there’s black Asians, Europeans, South Americans and we have to get with it. Even more so was a yearning to tap into my identity as an African.

I have to say it’s been a deeply enriching decision. I feel more in touch with my identity and abilities as a young, African male.

Popular opinion is that men’s haircuts are cheaper than the average hairdo for a woman. Let’s see; K15, 000 every week translates to K60, 000 per month. In a year, I’ll spend about K720, 000 on having my follicles removed. Sounds like a good excuse to keep the hair but this hairstyle has got more going for it than saving me money.

It’s easy to maintain, fuels your creative side and is a good conversation-piece. I never tire of telling people what I do for a living in response to their thinly veiled attempts to question my hairstyle. First off, to get that bulb on your neck looking presentable I’d say it takes a good 1-2 months’ worth of hair growth. I’d recommend you don’t have anything done to it in the first month. Simply take care of it by washing, oiling and combing it everyday.

In the fourth week, the hair would have taken its natural course by coiling beautifully. My hairstyle took no particular effort. When I tried it out the first time, my former boss – a woman in her late fifties – asked me, “Why do you ever cut your hair? You should flaunt it!”

And flaunt it I did. I work in the PR industry so I suppose it didn’t need babysitting all the time or having to explain it away. It fuels my ability to think free.

Once you’ve washed the hair, the worst thing you can do is comb your hair. Get a face towel, wet and then wring it. Place the towel on the head and begin light circular motion as if to dry the hair. This shouldn’t be done intensely – just lightly on that bob of hair. Repeat all over the head in clockwise or anti-clockwise fashion; it doesn’t matter really. After this, apply oil and Bob’s your uncle.

I’ve never been one for dreadlocks and I think there’s quite a lot one can do with their hair to avoid this US Marines look that every local guy is hung up about. It’s like all Zambian men are enlisted in National Service with their bald heads. Hair gives character and We Must Embrace the Follicle!!

In children, this hairdo is relatively easy as their hair is still very soft and requires no more than a regular trim every two weeks to keep it from getting wayward. Ask your barber to ‘flatten the hair’ and you’ll still maintain it without anything drastic being done to your tot’s appearance.

The downside? None, really – unless you consider stangers fawning and cooing over your child’s hair as a parenting headache.


One response to “Embrace the Follicle!

  1. So excited about this post!! My sister just started wearing her hair like this for about a month now –so yes its a unisex style– and she looks adorable in it. She gets compliments all the time from everybody about her tiny little ringlets!!! People just can seem to stop touching her hair.


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