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Opinions Fri, 26 Jul 2013

Every african woman exudes heavenly beauty

Every african woman exudes heavenly beauty without a kitsch wig (part 1 of 2)

Compatriots,

The title of this feature is exactly its aim. Because Africa is the origin of human civilization, every African woman is the mother of civilization. Therefore, every African woman is a representative princess who epitomises humanity. She exudes indescribable heavenly beauty without a kitsch (tasteless) alien wig. This is a two-part article. Part two follows soon. It is titled: ‘EVERY AFRICAN WOMAN EXUDES HEAVENLY BEAUTY WITHOUT A KITSCH WIG (PART 2 OF 2): AFRICAN IDENTITY, SLAVERY & COLONIALISM).’

QUESTIONS

I want to ask a humble question. It is a question that may whittle down my little fan-base. Because it is the sort of ‘controversial’ question that, like religion, has undeservingly split African people along gender lines. Well it should not if we are critically trying to develop as an African family culturally. So, with a dash of audacity from my matrilineal upbringing I will ask it:

If our beautiful Ghanaian/African women are not ashamed of whatever hair they naturally have; if they are capable, in most cases, of growing long hair like South African, Asha Mandela (who has the longest locks in the Guineas Book of Records) why is it that nearly all of them these days publicly sport off-putting, synthetic or dead people's hair from Brazil, India, Philippines or Europe?

The argument that not all people are blessed with good, healthy abundant hair is valid. But if so, why is it that they do not then keep their hair low-cut, or cropped down to manageable, presentable shapes like older Asante women (like the NPP’s Ursula Owusu; even NDC’s Nana Oye Lithur)? Or many busy, cognitively conscious, self-loving, Africa-centric, assertive right-on professional African women do?

HAIR AND CHEMICAL AMAGEDON

But there is an apocalyptic downside to wearing stuffy wigs all the time. My god-daughter recently complained of serious dandruff. A visit to the doctor revealed a heavy, layered, convoluted, mish-mash of dead skin (epidermis) swimming in a mortuary of blood-sea lesions and decaying smell!

The extreme heat generated by the imposition of 'hair'-on-hair generates its own sanctions. Worse, the fashionable cultural switching to artificial wigs has other negative implications. These wigs require certain cosmetic creams, oils and lotions to make appear close to natural hair. But these cosmetics have extremely harmful chemicals. Their side effects overwhelm the momentary vanity of their use.

“Since 2004, leading researchers like Dr. Philippa Darbre have been proving a link between common ingredients in most shampoos and conditioners like parabens to breast cancer and other cancers. Recent research released this week from the Journal of Applied Toxicology indicated that medical researchers discovered that nearly all women with breast cancer have parabens in their breast tissue. The link between other chemical toxins commonly found in shampoos and conditioners such as sodium laurel sulfates used a “sudsing” agent has also been closely linked to cancer.

‘However, despite the incredible dangers of salon products in the mild products like shampoos and conditioners, the chemical treatments commonly performed in salons are even more egregious [shocking]. Chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene-2,5-diamine sulfate, thioglycolates, ammonia, and resorcinol which are usually active ingredients or pigments in hair color, straightening systems, and other products are even more carcinogenic, toxic, and dangerous to our overall health. With many of these toxins, even breathing them in can cause long term health concerns which puts salon professionals, who are exposed to fumes from these toxins everyday, at particular danger.”

(The Dangers of Saloon Products; http://www.organiccolorsystems.com/dangers-of-salon-products/).

So we see how absurd it is when these African women wear coffins of artificial-dead people's hair? They pay for their self-conscious display of society-defined vanities with their health!

Please forgive me but I don't buy the "My hair is difficult to manage" excuses. The above is direct quote from my own daughter. Naturally she has as long a hair as any seventeen year old African teenager can expect to have. Against the grain of the usual fatherly advice – parentally alerting one’s charge about the vagaries of de-centering Eurocentric cultural behaviour - she recently surprised me wearing a 'weave-on' ('Weave-in'?). In my estimation it butchered her natural beautiful hair.

MEDIA EFFECTS

I think we watch too much TV. We copy too apishly the false images that are portrayed by frivolous music and fashion 'stars’ like: Beyonce, Nickie Minaj, Rihana and Naomi Campbell (if the swimming pool has a say in the matter! I refer to swimming pool incident that exposed her shockingly ill-cared-for natural hair).

In a feature article in Ghanaweb.com, Dr. Saka quotes one Emeka, a Nigerian fashion designer:

“I believe this trend is as a result of the impressions they get from watching TVs, movies and all these foreign fashion shows where such products are presented to them as ‘modern’ fashion/beauty. We seriously need some institutions that will put pressure on the media to educate our people because we are Africans and ‘they’ are not. I think it will be a good idea to show our natural African beauty to the rest of the world too. Maybe if we do, they could also want to dress like us”. (More African Women Set to Go Natural, Saka, Dr., Feature Article, 31 July 2012, http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=246393).

NATURAL HAIR CARE

Might it be also that the average Rastafari 'sistren' and 'bredrin' can teach us a lesson or two about hair growth management? Have we forgotten about the powers of sheanut nku, coconut oil, aloe vera; the many natural herbal, roots, seed, tree bark and plant-bearing cosmetics that abound in Africa, the Caribbean Islands, the Americas and worldwide?

Encouragingly there is now a trend in Africans in American choosing only natural products for their hair and skin. But like all things, this is monitised into a mega-million Dollar business:

“Danielle Belton, wrote an insightful article for Clutch magazine concerning mainstream hair-care companies and their sudden shift toward the natural care market. According to Belton, "These companies are now followers - shifting formulas and marketing strategies to keep up with their African-American lead upstarts, who came out to dominate the market right from underneath them... Going natural is now a big and growing part of the more than $165 million black hair care mass market. Companies that focused primarily on creating hair relaxers are scrambling to capitalize on what they initially thought would be just a." (Tamika Sayles, 06/29/2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tamika-sayles/natural-hair-products_b_1629281.html).

(…Part 2 to continue titled: EVERY AFRICAN WOMAN EXUDES HEAVENLY BEAUTY WITHOUT A KITSCH WIG (PART 2 OF 2): AFRICAN IDENTITY, SLAVERY & COLONIALISM).

Columnist: Kofi of Africa