The nat­u­ral hair evo­lu­tion is tak­ing hold the world over

The eth­nic hair in­dus­try boom sweep­ing South Africa means that the pop­u­lar­ity of ‘Western’ hair is fad­ing

African Independent - - TRAVEL -

of what was con­sid­ered ac­cept­able by the legacy of coloni­sa­tion.

“I don’t think it (nat­u­ral hair) is a fash­ion. It’s some­thing that is here to stay,” she said.

“Peo­ple now love their hair for what it is,” she added.

“It doesn’t mat­ter if I can’t or don’t like hair. It’s about busi­ness and there is a vi­sion here, there’s an op­por­tu­nity in the mar­ket and I need to take it,’’ she told her fam­ily who were as­ton­ished by her choice of in­dus­try.

The em­brac­ing of nat­u­ral hair in South Africa has not only given birth to op­por­tu­nity in busi­ness, but has also dis­played symp­toms of men­tal de­coloni­sa­tion.

As they did in the quest for po­lit­i­cal free­dom in the 1970s, stu­dents have played a sig­nif­i­cant role in the de­fence of their hair and it has erupted into heated protests.

A mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion led by the youth was the stu­dent protest at Pre­to­ria Girls High School.

In Au­gust last year, the school had in­structed stu­dents with afros to chem­i­cally straighten their hair as fail­ure to do this was con­sid­ered to be ob­struct­ing the school’s code of con­duct.

An un­savoury trend that has left many scep­ti­cal about grow­ing their hair is the theft of dread­locks.

Phatl­hane de­nounced the thug­gery.

“Crim­i­nals are not cut­ting peo­ple’s hair be­cause they en­joy it. They do it be­cause they need money,” she said.

“It’s re­pul­sive that peo­ple would stoop that low, but it also speaks to the state of the coun­try,” she added.

With the hair rev­o­lu­tion still find­ing its feet, mi­nor hic­cups are also sur­fac­ing be­tween stylists and nat­u­ral­ists, re­sult­ing in mi­nor dis­agree­ments.

Stylists of­ten find them­selves in predica­ments with clients who bring forth un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions, of­ten cre­ated by in­ter­net di­ag­no­sis and mis­in­for­ma­tion on their var­i­ous hair-care needs, goals and main­te­nance.

To make up for her lack of ex­per­tise, in ad­di­tion to good busi­ness acu­men, Phatl­hane has hired in­di­vid­u­als with ex­per­tise.

Among those is Sin­disiwe Nkam­bura, a dread­lock spe­cial­ist who has found a home at Afri-Fro.

“I haven’t been here long, but I love it here,” she said.

Aqua­line Chat­a­pura, the com­pany’s su­per­vi­sor, said: “I stud­ied hair for three years. I can tell you ev­ery­thing there is to tell about hair.”

Pop­u­lar styles in­clude Madiba line (in­spired by for­mer pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela), faux locks, 90s’ box braids, Ha­vana hair, braids and Bantu knots.

Mean­while, the Ma­sai twist has taken the coun­try by storm. It’s a hair­style pop­u­lar in East Africa, an all-sea­son style that was once ex­clu­sive to Ma­sai war­riors.

A re­ver­sal of roles has also emerged.

Male braiders are de­mys­ti­fy­ing the stereo­type that the hair­braid­ing trade is for women.

Among the men to have made an im­pres­sion in the pre­vi­ously fe­male-dom­i­nated in­dus­try is Michael Saningo, orig­i­nally from Tan­za­nia.

He spe­cialises in Ma­sai braids, a cen­turies-old tra­di­tion in his tribe.

There, males have their hair braided dur­ing the stage of war­rior­hood. It is braided into in­tri­cate pat­terns.

To Saningo, this is a four-hour job, much less time taken than by some fe­male stylists, who can take up to two days to do the job, ac­cord­ing to clients.

And if clients’ sen­ti­ments are any­thing to go by, the men do the job bet­ter than women.

“I pre­fer to be braided by a man be­cause the twist­ing of the hair is done us­ing a thigh as com­pared with the hand twist­ing, which takes longer.

“Those braids are also not durable,” said client Ke­femetswe.

Fe­male braiders con­ceded that the raise of male braiders had stiff­ened com­pe­ti­tion.

But in the spirit of en­trepreneur­ship, they are de­ter­mined to im­prove to re­main rel­e­vant in the in­dus­try. – CAJ News

The em­brac­ing of nat­u­ral hair in South Africa has not only given birth to op­por­tu­ni­ties in busi­ness, but also to men­tal de­coloni­sa­tion

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