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MY UNCULTURED ROOTS

One Friday evening I went home, took a pair of scissors and cut most of my hair. Not in the “I am Britney Spears and I am having a meltdown” kind of way; I was very calm and collected. It was not planned or pre-meditated. I just did it. I went into the shower, thoroughly shampooed my hair which for the better part of the week had been held up in a neat bun and enjoyed a long relaxing shower. I then stood in front of my mirror and the thought to take a pair of scissors and cut off all the relaxed strands of my hair descended upon me. Without thinking about the pros and cons of my abrupt decision, I started cutting. There was no profound reason behind it.

I cut it, strand after the other, and within thirty minutes, voila! There sat my little brown afro. Coffee brown. It was soft and coily, but I knew it was just a matter of time before it dried up and became this stiff steel wool-like tuft of hair. And that is when I started to think about my decision. I had traded my beautiful long relaxed strands for what was going to be this short hair covered in a very visibly brown hue and struggle!

Growing up, I never had the typical beautiful hair. Not even average. I have this VERY hard to ignore brown hair that is dense and thick. For the better part of my childhood it was hard and painful to manage, and very little was known about natural hair care save for a certain bottle of coconut oil whose stench was out of this world. Thank God it was a rule in most primary schools for hair to be kept in neat cornrows. That really helped keep it from the glaring eyes of society. You can imagine how my little innocent self felt  during science lessons when we were taught that one of the symptoms of kwashiorkor was ‘reddish’ hair. Children, being lethal little creatures who speak whatever is on their minds without fear of contradiction were bound to make snide comments. So here and there, they made fun of me and all other brown haired children in class.

One of my aunties used to joke that my hair looked like mutitu wa Karura (Karura forest). In my head, Karura forest was this very dense forest, with trees growing really closely together. For all I knew and by the standards of my hair the forest was coffee brown in color. Nobody could penetrate through Karura forest. People would look at it and wonder how the trees managed to grow so close together. Maybe, there were creatures that lived in Karura forest that nobody knew about because it was too thick to get into. I think by now you have an idea of how skewed my perception of Karura forest was. I thought about it the same way I did my hair. I was pleasantly surprised when I visited Karura forest as an adult. It is beautiful, serene and safe for human beings to explore; just like my hair!

I would later come to discover the world of blow dries (which I still abhor to date) and relaxers. I have lived through them all. The blow drying did not sit well with my hair but relaxers worked just fine. This went on until last year, when I joined the ‘coveted’ natural hair community. I did not cut it really short because I had once tried that back in my adolescent teenage years and ended up looking like a little boy called Fredrick (don’t ask me why Fredrick, just know I looked like Fredrick). There is no way I was going to allow myself look like Fredrick!

Anyway, in the natural hair community they we have a number of unwritten rules that we kind of have to live by. Stay away from heat, moisturize and regularly impress the hair gods. They are not obligatory, and needless to say, I have broken most if not all of them. You would think that after years of religiously following hair bloggers do their thing I would have the skills required to take care of natural hair! I m learning, day by day and appreciating the journey.

Next week will be exactly one year since I cut this hair. I have embraced my coffee brown bush and I am learning to love it. I can’t believe I have mastered the courage to wear it out! Needless to say though, it has been a labour of love. These kinky strands have rules of their own. They can be quite ungrateful. You may cleanse, finger detangle, deep condition, moisturize, use oils, smell like a fruit garden, offer an unblemished sacrifice to the hair gods and the strands will not cooperate. Other days, you will do the bare minimum the hair will flourish!

I will not lie, I am thoroughly impressed by how much my hair has grown in one year. These pictures do not reflect its true length since most of it had shrank by the time when we took them (yeah, this hair does that, a lot!). I will definitely continue wearing this crown for a long long time!

PS: Thank you so much for all the love you showed me in my previous post! Mental health is in the core of my heart, and we shall keep the conversation going!

Stay blessed.

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5 comments

  1. Thought you’d also write about your comb shopping escapade 😂

  2. Nyc piece, kept me thinking 😊😊

  3. Nice piece.Always loved your hair “mutitu was karura”😂😋😋😋.Always inspiring.

  4. Everyone I knew had soft hair… Mine is more like a geographic feature in an atlas as well. Mt. Kwasa something or rather… Breaker of combs… Devourer of hair oil.. the royal helmet.

    I’ve come to love it too

  5. I remember mine was karura or thicker n mum had to heat the (gichini) hot comb to help thin the forest before we cud do the corn rows