Random Guy: I love your hair. It’s so beautiful.
Me: Thank you
Guy: It’s natural, right
Me: Yes, it is
Guy: Are you Adventist?
Me: No, I’m not
Guy: Really, because most women with natural hair are Adventist
I don’t answer
Guy: Are you Zambian?
Me: Yes, I am
Guy: What tribe are you?
Me: (Reluctantly, because I know where this is going), I’m Luvale
Guy: Oh, ok. That explains it then, because Luvale women have always had long and beautiful hair.
What followed was a well-meaning, but ultimately prejudiced further admiration of my hair by a Luvale man who, like many Zambians of all tribes, feel Luvale women and others from North Western Province have a proprietary ownership over good hair.
I reject this notion vehemently because it is the excuse people use to NOT look after their hair. I believe genetics goes a long way towards growth rate and resilience toward damage but it doesn’t help you retain your growth.
Long, strong and healthy hair is NOT about the products you use, but mainly about how well you look after it. Good hair is an investment. There are no miracle products, so stop spending pots of money, stop making excuses and start being nice to your hair.
My opening statement at the ZedHair Natural Hair Show was that people always ask me what they can put on their hair to make it grow. I tell them there is no product that will make your hair grow. It’s what you do to your hair and how you treat it that will determine if it grows or not. Last year, Sibongile wrote about Technique or Product as the key to healthy hair. In case you haven’t guessed it, technique wins hands down.
There are NO short-cuts to healthy hair. It takes hard work, diligence and patience to have beautiful hair. We all buy Indian hair extensions and yet most of us are unaware how much time and energy Indian women put into looking after their hair. Last week I shared about 15 healthy hair tips that apply to all hair types. In it, I noted that many of the practices favoured by naturals come from the Indian community. These are traditional and cultural hair practices, not store-bought expensive products. If you have seen Chris Rock’s Good Hair, you will know that many of the Hindu women who sacrifice their hair come from rural areas and are poor.
Similarly, in Africa many of us admire the hair on Ethiopian women. What many people do not know is that if you have any Ethiopian friends, or have spent any significant amount of time in that country, you will have noticed just how much time they spend looking after their hair. I have had lengthy conversations about hair with a number of Ethiopian women who have expressed shock at the lack of thoroughness and poor practices exhibited by hair salons in Zambia. So yes, they have great hair, but they spend hours deep conditioning it and treating it.
I bang my head against the wall every time someone uses my ethnicity as an excuse for why they cannot have healthy and long hair too. What they really mean is that they do NOT want to invest any time or effort in growing healthy hair, they want instant hair. But anyone who drinks coffee will tell you that brewing real coffee takes much longer, but its waaaaaay better than the fake coffee in a bottle.