First published on 10th May 2011
The twentieth of May marks a year to the day I plaited my hair into tiny braids and began the process of “locking.” Of course there have been days when constant unravelling, lopsided growth and dryness have had me irritated and longing for the safety of hair extensions, but those days have been mere hiccoughs in an otherwise fascinating period.
Recalling that in November last year I had to give my dreads significant chop for various reasons, my hair has locked into approximately three hundred medium to small dreadlocks as a result of my own efforts, research and patience.
Looking in the mirror, contemplating how I will photograph my locks, I realised that this is the first time in my life that my hair reflects me, the first time that it has personality. It is not mainstream (smooth, glossy) and neither is it truly radical (freeform chunky locks). Some of my locks are longer, fatter or curled, but I can tie them into neat puff for important occasions, or leave them loose.
Since I used an interlocking method, I don’t need creams or gels to tighten them and I don’t require any specialised moisturisers, conditioners, hair food or any other concoction that the natural hair websites would claim you do. Head and shoulders shampoo has kept my head itch and dryness free and Sulphur 8 braid spray keeps my dreads oiled and moisturised.
The greatest lesson learned, however, is freedom from the trap that women of all races and cultures fall into – being tied to your cultural ideal of beauty. I no longer envy the hair of beautiful black women in Essence or Black Hair magazines, because they are focused on long hair and on straight hair.
I have found that many natural hair and dreadlock websites also focus on one thing Length! Short natural hair and short dreadlocks are part of “a journey” to long hair. This is a pity, because as Masuka noted a few times, we all have different hair.
The truth of about individuality is that some of us are not destined to have hair that flows down our shoulders regardless of how much mosquito poo, extract of eel or callus of toad that we try.
Photographs; Mwila Agatha Zaza