WARNING: This is a long one. But there are lots of nice pictures to make up for it.
After over 18 months of thinking about it, talking about it and planning it, the ZedHair Natural Hair Show took place in Lusaka, Zambia on 6th April 2013. It was the first natural hair event in Zambia.
We have already recapped the show on Facebook. You can view the album on ZedHair’s Facebook page here. This is an opportunity to share a selection of the pictures from the event and also to say a little bit more about the show itself and what went into planning it.
First of all, ZedHair has been in existence for just over two years. Some time in 2011, on BGLH of all places, I came across pictures of Kurly Kichana‘s Natural Hair Meet-up in Nairobi and I was inspired. First, because I was yet to come across other natural hair blogs based in Africa and second to see that the much talked about natural hair meet-ups could happen anywhere in the world. Soon after this, I discovered Natural Nigerian and learned about the Naturals in the City meet-up that she and other Nigerian natural hair bloggers began to hold on a regular basis in Lagos and recently Abuja.
But, as it happens, many things prevented me from having the time or money to have such a gathering in Lusaka. I am a perfectionist and so of course I wanted every single little thing in place before going ahead. By the end of 2012 however, I just decided to take the plunge and do it. Initially, I had in mind a small gathering of 30 women at a cafe somewhere. I was going to pay for everything as I love talking about hair it was just going to be drinks and snacks at most. It was going to be an opportunity to share and learn, exchange information and products and so on. I shared the idea with a few people and it just sort of grew way beyond what I had initially had in mind. This was a little scary, but I decided to roll with it in order to see what would happen. Just like when I first started the blog, I wanted to know how many people out there were interested in coming to a meeting just to talk about natural hair.
The response was AMAZING. It was extremely HUMBLING. And it was also so ENCOURAGING. We ended up ‘marketing’ the show as a platform to talk about healthy hair care, whether your hair is natural, relaxed or locked. This was in an effort to widen the appeal, but also to create a basic foundation to talk about healthy hair care. The fundamental principles of using fewer harsh chemicals, less heat, gentle handling, balancing moisture and protein and maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle apply to all ethnicities and hair types. African hair is no different. Then, the practical demonstrations and hands on testimonies would focus on natural hair.
Actually, we need not have worried at all. We sold 150 tickets and learned that there are plenty of people who would love to take care of their hair but have got no idea where to start from. Also, there are so many naturals out there with great hair, and with regimens that work for them that were longing for a community of likeminded people to come and share ideas with. I also learned something about the mixed race people that I know who also have natural hair struggles. In the week leading up to the natural hair show, ZedHair went from 500 Facebook likes to 1,500. We are now steadily approaching 2,000 only three weeks later.
The event itself was a MASSIVE success. We did not make any money at all — and that wasn’t the objective anyway, but at least with help from our sponsors, we were able to at least cover all the bills. In my mind, the achievement was seeing what the natural hair scene has for us in Zambia, meeting so many fabulous people, seeing them rock their hair and finding out that people want more.
Here at ZedHair, we are planning a series of smaller practical and hands on natural hair meet-ups on a quarterly basis (sort of like support groups), followed by a bigger natural hair show like the one we have just had, most likely on an annual basis. This is the one that would accommodate all hair types as we really are about promoting healthy hair care and practices.
Amezam Shipping – Amezam Shipping are specialists in overseas shipping of personal effects, household goods, and general commercial cargos from the USA to Zambia and Malawi.
The Zambian Travellers Shop – The Zambian Travellers Shop at Makeni Mall offers great service at unbeatable prices for all your business and leisure travel.
Mercury Express Logistics – Mercury Express Logistics offers a 4 day delivery service of parcels up to 30kg from the UK to Zambia. They also offer courier services to and from Zambia to destinations all over the world.
NC Hair Studio – Visit NC Hair Studio at Golden Bridge Hotel or Makeni Mall
Global Link Zambia – Global Link Zambia is a company that is passionate about research, communication and marketing.
Many people were really interested in the idea of a natural hair event, but not all companies want to take the risk and invest in something so new and different. For this reason, ZedHair does not take this support for granted. It was not going to be possible to stage the show without their support, so I thank you once again.
The ZedHair Team:
Most of the ZedHair team live in the United States, then there is one person in Finland and myself in Zambia. The constant emails, IM discussions that went back and forth over and over again over the last few months and more feverishly in the run-up to the show are what kept me sane. The team gave suggestions and ideas and brainstormed on everything. They listened to the venting as well.
Also, a number of the prizes that we gave away at the show were bought by the ZedHair Team. This includes books (Better Than Good Hair, Going Natural, I Love My Hair, Bintous’s Braids, My Nappy Hair), bun shapers and the mini spray bottles that we used to make moisturising spritzes.
A few months ago, we introduced ZedHair readers to our then new contributor, Sibongile who runs a closed Facebook group called Zedian Naturals. The ladies in this group were so enthusiastic about the show and gave their support through encouragement, spreading the word, suggestions and ideas. This is where I ‘met’ Mwanabibi and Alice who ended up also speaking at the show. Mwanabibi is our latest contributor to ZedHair. The ladies from Zedian Naturals based in the US, UK and Japan also contributed toward the prizes that we gave out. They bought satin bonnets, satin scarves, satin pillowcases and books (Going Natural, I Love My Hair, Bintous’s Braids, My Nappy Hair). It was a pleasure to have one of the ladies who happened to be visiting Zambia from Japan present some of the copies of I Love My Hair to the children on behalf of the Diasporan organising team.
Thank you so much to Natural Nigerian for the support and encouragement. Thank you also to Omozo from O’Naturals (also in Nigeria), who was actually supposed to come and speak at the ZedHair Natural Hair Show. Omozo contacted me in 2011 after seeing my comments on Natural Nigerian about planning a natural hair meet-up in Lusaka. She asked if it was ok if she came. She said she wanted to share some of her experiences and she said she would pay her own way. I said, “Hell Yeah! Come on over sister!” Unfortunately, the people at the visa office at the Zambian High Commission in Abuja didn’t grant her a visa. This was bitterly disappointing. But, I was blessed that she even wanted to come in the first place and it will be ZedHair’s pleasure to welcome Omozo or anyone else that wants to come to Zambia at the next event.
My Hair Dresser:
Yes, the post introducing you all to my oft talked about hair dresser is still coming. But all those who came to the show will have met Nomai and will agree with me that she is not only as nice as I have said, she is also extremely knowledgeable and experienced. She was an amazing support throughout this whole process and was the main speaking resource aside from myself. Nomai and her team basically did everything on the day in terms of logistics so please visit NC Hair Studio and get your hair done.
The Other Speakers:
Mwanabibi who ended up helping with so much and joining the ZedHair Team amazed everyone with her knowledge and understanding. Welcome aboard.
Alice and Jeselle who ensured that dreadlocks were represented in a really fun way.
Luyando (aka YouTuber Vashtikk11) who took time to make a video especially for the show on The Dos and Don’t of Extensions.
Lusubilo and Ayana who shared from their personal experiences with natural hair.
Limpo who managed the Facebook and Twitter liveblogging for the morning. Chishala who helped with running around. Towani Clarke and Kutowa Designs and Sherrie and team at Sure Slim Zambia who helped to spread the word and sell tickets. My brother Kapalu who also helped spread the word on his radio show.
Eve Banda from LiF Magazine – look out for a feature on ZedHair in the next issue.
Janice Matwi from Corporate Heelz gave great advice on marketing and promoting the show. Also look out for some more with ZedHair and CH in the next few weeks.
Alfred who did our graphic design work – the new logo, the tickets, the poster and banners.
BalistiQ Photography and Jamiel Banda for the video.
Staff at the Government Complex Convention Centre who helped get us the venue we wanted.
Nancy Handabile from Times of Zambia and Angela Chishimba from Zambia Daily Mail for some great media coverage of the event.
All those who helped spread the word via email, on Twitter and on Facebook. Thank you!
There are so many more too numerous to mention. If I have forgotten anyone, a thousand apologies. If you helped in any way, thank you. Lastly, to everyone who bought a ticket (because some did not make it on the day) and to everyone who was with us at the New Government Complex, thank you so much for taking time to attend the show. I invested so much time and energy into it that I began to wonder if I was making a mountain out of molehill. I did ask myself if people would come.
But hey, “If You Build It, They Will Come!”
I realise I keep on switching between me, I and we. Obviously, as Masuka M., I was driving this whole thing and I take ultimate responsibility, but the planning and organising was done by the ZedHair Team, Nomai and other volunteers who pitched in.
So, on to the show itself. As mentioned above, the full picture recap is on Facebook. Below is a selection of pictures, with captions. I have also tried to do a basic summary of the show in between the pictures. Enjoy!
Of the 150 tickets we printed, about 130 were sold before the show. In the end a number of people didn’t make it, but many more came to chance tickets at the door.
We started a little late, so we decided to start the show by giving out the first prizes of the day to the first three people to arrive and register. Late coming and poor time keeping is a disease that we must get rid of. This prize was special to my heart because I really wanted to honour those people who reject Zambian time, coloured people time, African time or whatever you call it and resolved to be on time anyway, regardless of what the rest of the world does. They each received a copy of Going Natural by Mireille Liong a Kong.
The other ‘subjective’ prize went to the first person to pay for the show. Obviously this was a friend of mine. She gave me money way back in January to help me make a downpayment on the venue when we didn’t even have a confirmed date. This was a step of faith on her part and I bought the gift/prize with her in mind. It was a copy of Better Than Good Hair by Curly Nikki (Nikki Walton). The remaining prizes went in answer to questions, to people who volunteered to speak, the first person to grab it from my hand (satin pillow case) and for correctly answering the quiz questions.
Many people reported that the combs and brushes session was the most eye opening for them. It was simple, but effective. What works for relaxed hair, wigs, weaves, natural hair, Caucasian and mixed race hair. Also detangling, smoothing, blow drying, sectioning and so on. I confess that the next day I examined all my combs and brushes and did the same when I went shopping the next day. I went to three shops with a known extensive brush/comb section.
Next time, we hope to see even more people attend.
In the three weeks since the show, at least four people have told me they are Big Chopping or transitioning as a result of what they learned or heard at the show. We actually had a barber on standby incase anyone wanted to BC — and there was a special gift for whoever did. But no one volunteered, so we shall keep it for next time.
We had a great selection of models with different hair types. However, due to time, not all of them got to have the full demonstrations of hair styles done.
I admit it, I felt kind of like Oprah when giving out the prizes. Alas, there was nothing under the seats. Next year.
We had some child models and also children of participants and presenters/organisers.
We wouldn’t be in Africa without various forms of Duku (head wrap).
All hair types were covered at the show. Alice and Jeselle told me they would have an informal chat over a cup of tea. And that’s exactly what they did, with sugar and milk and everything. This was a really funny and quirky talk.
There were some great natural hair styles on display.
The first two people to volunteer to share their hair stories got a copy of Better Than Good Hair and Hair Care Rehab in exchange for their bravery.
It’s a simple one, but I always tell people that changing my nighttime routine is one of the best things I ever did for my hair.
This woman is a hard core naturalista. My goodness!!! This was my favourite session because I learned so much.
This was my favourite picture. No further comment necessary.
It was great for many people to hear from someone who is not Zambian, but is also natural. I was once again reminded that here in Zambia, type 4 hair is the good hair. Many African Americans that I know have shared how they have been pleasantly surprised by this fact when they come to Zambia (and I am sure it is the same in other African countries).
The turnout and the number of people who were still there at the end was so encouraging.
I sneaked out during the Dos and Don’ts of Hair Extensions video in order to take just one picture. There was only time for one. The story of my failed hairstyle which had to be rescued at the last minute is a story for an upcoming post. Suffice to say, the natural hair journey is never boring and I learn something new almost every week. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Whenever you have a function, something will ALWAYS go wrong. I was happy that we only had one technical challenge. The Government Complex Convention Centre is the most complete and well equipped conference facility in the Republic of Zambia. But, it is only as good as the people who manage the facilities. So, despite having lots of fancy sound equipment, the guy who was supposed to connect our computer to the speakers disappeared and despite his colleagues trying to track him down, they failed. So we had to improvise or cancel the video which Luyando had laboured to prepare for us. We chose the former and placed the microphone on the laptop speaker and the problem was solved.
Did you know that Towani (who we featured in 2011) often has natural hair models showcase her designs or sometimes the models (of all races) wear massive afro wigs at her shows. Check out her page here.
We had 20 basic questions on natural hair care practices, myths and acronyms. It was so interactive and to be honest, it got a little unruly as people got so excited. There were so many prizes to give out that we were running out of criteria to give stuff away. In the end, the last prize, a copy of The Science of Black Hair went to the person who gave the best closing remark.
We actually have a review of I Love My Hair coming up from a 9 year old. It is hand-on-heart cute. This is a phenomenal book and is highly recommended for all girls.
It was just great to see so many wonderful styles in terms of hair and fashion.
Due to time, we didn’t get to have as many practical styling demonstrations as we would have liked. Next time.
What I learned from the show is that there are a lot of naturals out there who are styling their hair and all we need to do is give them a platform and opportunity to share that knowledge and information with others. My work is half done, it seems.
Many of the older generation’s hair is damaged beyond repair. But, if somehow, we can rescue the hairlines of the next generation, and if we can teach them to love their hair just as it is, I will hang up my keyboard and log out for good.
And that’s a wrap…!