Natural Spotlight: Chiteu

After a brief hiatus, it’s great to feature a Zambia naturalista, Chiteu, who we first met at the ZedHair Natural Hair Show in April this year, where she wore a gorgeous twist out. We were so pleased when she agreed to be featured on ZedHair and also gave us a bonus experience about being a bride with natural hair. Read on…
All-round French plait with accessory

All-round French plait with accessory

About Chiteu:
Where in Africa are you from?
I am Zambian born to a Kaonde man and Bisa woman, but have lived a little bit of everywhere in the Eastern and Southern African region so I  am kind of a child of Africa. I spent my formative years in Mansa, in Northern Zambia and  Arusha,Tanzania; I spent my teens in Harare, Zimbabwe and parts of my early adulthood in South Africa.
Where are you currently based?
I am currently based in Lusaka, Zambia.
When did you decide to go natural?
I actually didn’t decide to go natural, life kinda decided it for me. I was in a car crash in October of 2009 and suffered head injuries and as a result my head was shaved in order to do some stitches. When my hair started growing back I thought why not keep it natural and see what happens. I was also afraid of chemicals going into the scar that now ran across the width of my scalp so I guess this was motivation enough to stay natural – then of course I started enjoying it 🙂
What has been your experience having natural hair so far?
I absolutely loooooooove being natural!!! Firstly, I always hated sitting in a hairdryer for 45mins to an hour due to the thickness and length of my hair, so I love being free from that. I have been through all the crazy natural hair experiences including being frustrated with the in-between stage and buying a box of creamy crack, having a staring match with it and winning in the end (Yay – Ed). I love trying out new things, learning about different ways to look after my hair and embracing it in all its coily glory. I have also found that people are fascinated with natural hair and for whatever reason I get more attention with my natural hair than I did with relaxed hair (the only annoying thing is people wanting to touch it to check if its real lol).
What is your hair regimen?
I have to admit that I was natural for 2 years plus before I had a regimen. Before, I just used to wing it and hope for the best, lol. Now though, Sunday is usually my wash day. I try to pre-poo the night before (something I learnt recently from the ZedHair Natural Hair Show). I used to deep condition with store bought conditioners like Cholesterol but this has since changed and I will usually pre mix something myself with a creamy mayonnaise or yoghurt, honey,avocado oil, a few drops of tea tree oil and Tresemme Naturals conditioner.  I co-wash in sections 3 times a month and then shampoo with a clarifying shampoo once a month. I have found my hair retains more moisture this way and is easier to work with.
I have also been recently introduced to the magic that is the Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) rinse. So after I wash the deep conditioner out, I do a final rinse with an ACV rinse mix. I then seal my hair with either coconut oil or avocado oil. Most wash days I will then do flat twists or two strand twists using whipped shea butter mixed with a little glycerine, tea tree oil and coconut oil.
I have two daily spritzes right now: one has aloe vera infused distilled water, tea tree oil, castor oil and avocado oil and the other one has Tresemme Naturals conditioner, distilled water and avocado oil. I spritz my hair twice a day in between washes.
I don’t comb my hair with a comb. I own exactly 2 combs – a wide tooth comb, which I never use and one for combing my weaves. I don’t use heat unless I am braiding it which isn’t very often (probably 2-3 times a year). I’m not too bothered by shrinkage and when I really must, I stretch my hair either by threading (cotton) or simply braiding it in two or three strand plaits.
How did you achieve the hairstyle in these pictures?
An All-round French plait.

An All-round French plait.

All-round French plait (side view)

All-round French plait (side view)

1. I started with stretched hair, parted down the middle but not all the way to the front. I then started at the back (left side) and did a french plait all the way round to the other side. Once done I placed two head bands to keep it neat and in place, it can also be accessoried with flowers (see picture at the top of the page).
Shaggy Fro

Shaggy Fro from a Two Strand Twist-out

2.   Two strand twist out. When my hair was shorter I loved the shaggy afro look. I would two strand twist while wet, air dry and mositurise and go.
Pompadour and plait - side eview

Pompadour and plait – side eview

Pompadour and plait

Pompadour and plait

3. Loose twist and french plait, during my in-between stage, the french plait was the answer to everything!!! Here, I loose twisted the front and pinned with a french plait in the back.
Fro-hawk from the front/side

Fro-hawk from the front/side

Fro-hawk from the back/side

Fro-hawk from the back/side

4. The fro-hawk was achieved by making three ponytails down the middle of my head. I then used a daily spritz to dampen and slick with eco-styler gel. I took each ponytail and parted down the middle, one side was then pinned forward and the other side pinned backwards. Repeat for all the ponytails et voila.
Large Two Strand Twists

Large Two Strand Twists

Two Strand Twists

Two Strand Twists

Two Strand Twists (up close)

Two Strand Twists (up close)

5. Sectioned the front and did about 6-7 loose two strand twists. Flat twisted the back in a circle and slicked the side with gel. I then pinned the twists back and pulled here and there to get the right shape.

Any future plans/dreams for your hair?
Mmmmmh, future plans? Healthy hair, shooting for bra-strap length so working on retaining length and maybe some day soon doing YouTube videos showing what can be achieved with the limited hair resources available locally. I also love what NC Hair Studio is doing for the natural hair community so would like to see more hairdressers in the conventional hair salons learn how to treat and care for natural hair and provide informed hair care tips to their clients, especially natural brides. In fact, let me just briefly share my experience with bridal hairstyles being a natural (Yes please – Ed).
Chiteu on her wedding day

Chiteu on her wedding day

I got married 2 years ago and having embraced and totally loving my natural hair, I didn’t want to relax it or damage it with heat. If I had my way I would have had a twist out with a flower to accessorise it. My first battle was dealing with my aunt. I really wanted to have my twist out, but the general feeling was that it would look “scruffy” (I thought my shaggy afro was AWESOME!!!!!). After much deliberation and stern warnings from the aunties, I relented. But I still wasn’t going to let the creamy crack touch my head. Then the drama of finding a hairdresser who understood that I didn’t want my hair in the conventional, accepted ‘prim and proper way’ began. I decided if I couldn’t have my hair I wasn’t going to subject it to blow drying it until it was straight and heat damaged (although a friend did suggest I get something called blowout that made natural hair look straighter than an arrow). My last resort was to get braids, then have them styled.

I went to several hair salons at Northmead where I was asked WHY I wanted to have braids for my wedding and the hairdressers would then proceed to show me pictures of weaved bridal hair styles and the physical weave that they used to achieve each styles — I was not interested in the parading of weaves or being schooled about their uses or 100% human hairness. All the while I’m sitting there thinking, “are you listening to me? I SAID I am doing braids for MY wedding, are you able to style them?” I remember walking into one place telling them I would do braids and asking them if they could do a trial run but they were so bent on this weave thing that I left annoyed and frustrated (mostly at the fact that listening to the customer and what she needed was not a priority for them as they would much rather shove their ideal down your throat).
After this drama I decided I would get Masai braids — first and last time!!!!! I have NEVER had so much edge damage and couldn’t stand losing up to ten braids a day. I took them down as soon as the wedding was over. Fortunately, during my monthly salon wash (during my non-regimen days), I mention to my hairdresser that I was having trouble finding someone to style my braids for the wedding and she directed me to Namungo at Icons. I spoke with her and we arranged to do a trial run and things turned out pretty well on the big day.
I would really love to see more of these hair salons that we dedicate so much time and money to embrace ‘unconventional’ hair styles, textures and styling needs, especially natural ones.
Any advice to those considering going natural?
Firstly, go for it! It’s a beautiful experience as you discover your hair, how to look after it and love it. Secondly, don’t be afraid to try different things; ask questions and read up on what products you can use and experiment with (safely that is); have fun and play with different styles and accessories. Lastly, embrace your hair  (in all its various stages, frustration and all). Own it, be confident and rock it!!!!!
About Your Blog:
What prompted you to start blogging?
I’m a little bit of a closet nutcase so friends of mine that get to have a glimpse of this side of me kept saying I need to start writing a blog. Fast forward 2 years and I tried my hand at it on WordPress but got lazy. I then got introduced to Tumblr a few months ago and I’m loving it. I named it Coils and Strands mostly because of my hair and taking it more seriously, but also because I feel life is like a tapestry and through our experiences we weave colour and character into it. The coils represent the twists and turns that we encounter in life and the strands are the straighter, higher moments that bring cause for celebration and growth. The username bellamufazi came from my wide experience with languages and living in other countries, bella is Italian for beautiful and mufazi is Zulu/Ndebele for woman.
What has the response been like so far?
So far the response has been good, I try to write during my downtime, most people expect an update on Sundays and sometimes its like I’m being policed with people quizzing me if I skip a Sunday 🙂
What are the plans for the future of your blog?
For now its a place for me to share my life experiences with others. I am not entirely sure about the direction it will take in the future, but I definitely plan to keep writing and see where it goes.
Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
Take the leap, the thought of people reading your stuff and whether they will find it interesting can be daunting, but find your story, how you want to tell it and tell it like it is. We all have a style of writing that will appeal to someone and make for interesting reading. I like to write like I’m talking to someone and I find this works for me and keeps it fresh for the reader (I think). Blogging is loads of fun and a great way to share your thoughts and ideas with the world.
You can follow Chiteu on her fantastic blog, Coils and Strands.
If you would like to be featured on, please email with sample pictures of your hair. Also please email us if you have a natural bride story to share.

6 responses to “Natural Spotlight: Chiteu

  1. @ Chiteu,wow! What a journey. I’ve always secretly fancied natural hair but was at a loss as to where to begin. I envisioned myself in locks,even went all the way to the salon. But I got cold feet because while there I called my mum for some moral support but she didn’t share the vision. 😦 My life long dream has been to rock a ‘fro leaving the rest for another day.
    I have began my natural hair growth and am excited 🙂


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  5. wow sis!beautiful hair . proud to see Zambian ladies with natural hair .However, its a challenge to find natural hair products in Zambia.


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