Hey Kurlies, today we would like to introduce you to the lovely Alberta, a proud natural who has a tale to tell about her experience with going natural in Kenya... It's an interesting read, so dive right in!
Natural hair is still weird in Kenya. When I got the big chop, everyone around me was super shocked. I was nervous too but it was more than a change of hairstyle for me. I had spent over KES 12,000 on salon visits in 2012, KES 4000 on two tricologist appointments and easily KES 10,000 plus on MSM, Biotin and Silica supplements (that were fantastic on my nails but worthless for my attempt at trying to maintain the kind of damage I had), avocado oil, almond oil, mustard oil, the entire motions hair care line, Suave, Tresemme- I was tired!!!!!
I look back and cringe at the kind of money I spent on 8 inches of hair (my 7 year retention 4” of which were splits). As a college student by that time, there was no way I could continue to justify that kind of extravagance. I wanted to save my money and move on (When your hairdresser calls you every three days to remind you of an appointment - you are clearly throwing money away).
My journey in the world of natural prejudice begun the day I cut off all that relaxer. I walked out of the barber chair with my cute dress, top fade and button earrings to the frantic yells of the salon girls next door that I should get a ‘curly kit’ and a color treatment and that natural hair did not look well on me. I looked at them and it hit me that I had never ever seen my hairdressers’ hair - except under weave and here she was trying to bully me into a style she wanted to sell me.
My boyfriend hated it so I gave him the relaxed hair I had saved from the barbers in a nice polythene bag and told him to keep it. He never mentioned my hair again for a year after my big chop- until he started to love it.
I was glad I had cut it then. Money was tight. My grandma had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and she was frequently on diapers and drugged up. My natural hair gave me more time to spend with her on her last days without resenting or worrying about already broken hair. I could hold her and sit by her and feed her and for some strange reason with relaxed hair, I would have stolen some of those moments to waste away at the salon.
Well, I was going to be the recipient of many, and I mean constant, numerous; crappy, mean comments from often relaxed women about the look and state of my natural hair. I was going to have random hands shoved into my head (a habit/ culture I notice now that I am relaxed); women wondering out loud about why I don’t relax my hair and if my decision to not relax is financial; a woman with traction alopecia and broken ends lectured me once on 'lady like hair' or when a dreadlocked lady came to tell me that my roll and tucks and my twists were unappealing and tried to bully me into locks or a relaxer at the age of 22 no less....well...the bad manners persists- like on my grand ma's funeral ...I’m upset and everything when this grown woman starts to grill me on why my afro isn't perfectly spherical- and all I could think was “Have I been Naswad?” Clearly I was mourning and this strange woman had the gall to ask me what is I would do to my hair for the funeral and go further to recommend a salon. I was stunned.
I get so frustrated when African women act as if natural hair, shrinkage, multiple textures and kinks is alien to them and yet unlike in America, almost every Kenyan woman has been natural at some prolonged point in time like in primary school or in high school so I can’t begin to understand how an honest woman would try to punk me into an impression-that she was born with a relaxer. How do you try to reconcile that someone would imagine especially at this age that one is obliged to explain their natural tresses in response to ignorant or clearly rude questions that only little kids may ask.
|From the Big Chop up to a Year|
I get that natural Nazis exist but relaxed Nazis are the mainstream here and they drive me crazy with abject misery. Imagine me at a salon screaming "Get a grip! It’s free and you should be going green (in reference to natural hair and the act of relaxing). How dare you pollute my environment you jerk! Do you want to have cancer? And if they proceed with the relaxer session, suppose I shouted I hope you do get abundant fibroids or perhaps poly-cystic ovarian syndrome.”
I’d probably be lynched for sure. So for now, let me join the tired ranks of the ‘maids’ (stereotype), broke folks (I'm not going to be spending that kind of money on hair) and the cool, brave eclectics and natural hair enthusiasts and say... “When you see my hair, don’t touch and if you don’t have anything positive to say…Well, ain’t nobody got time for that boo”
From me. Alberta, Thank you.”
Special thanks to Alberta. You are the picture of natural beauty with your proud mane...
What do you think ladies, have you gone through similar experiences? Let us know in the comment section below.
Would you like to share your natural hair journey, horror stories, musings or frustrations!? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we'd love to hear your story.