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Things they forgot to teach us about natural hair

by: Lufuno Ramadwa - 7 December 2016

natural hair_n (1)Naturalistas have found modern ways to keep their afros growing, and are sharing their secrets with with the world, so everybody can flourish. As much as these naturalistas have taught me, there are a few things they have not really considered. So I asked a few ladies with afros to help with some kinks and coils we sometime face on this natural journey.

1. Swimming

Debunk the “black people can’t swim” stereotype, it’s 2016. This December, we will be occupying all the beaches in Mzansi, so that the Penny Sparrows of this world can cringe. Naturalistas have taught us that water is food to natural hair, but when the water is filled with chlorine chemicals and salt,  it dries it up, leading to breakage. I don’t plan to keep my head above the water this December.

“I’ve recently made a habit of carrying a little hair bag. Inside it, I have a small container of conditioner, olive oil, hair ties and clips.” – Andisiwe  Dlangamandla (21), who has had natural hair for three years.
“When going to the beach I do twists or Bantu knots for the sake of water and shrinkage.” – Ashanti Maluleke (21), who has had natural hair for four years.

blessing your timeline part 14. BANTU KNOTS pic.twitter.com/j7Qcs6Q40P

 2. Going to the club

Naturalistas have taught us to plait our afros before we sleep to keep it untangled and moisturised, but they forgot to mention the struggle of having to do that in the early hours of the morning after a good night out. They even forgot mentioning how spending hours fixing your hair before going to the club can feel like a waste of time. Especially if you consider that you’ll probably leave the club with a shrunken afro that’s trying to revive itself from the toxic dance floor smoke machines and cigarette fumes.

“I really don’t like people touching my hair so I have it in an up do or the angel braid. Also, afterwards you have to give it a wash to get rid of all the smoke, so the angel braid allows for less detangling” – Pridey Pankhurst (22), who has had natural hair for three  years.


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3. Travelling on public transport

Whether it’s a 5-minute taxi ride, a 2-hour flight or an 18-hour bus ride, travelling with an afro is no child’s play. Naturalistas forget how some still depend on public transport to get to places. So forget about keeping up a puffy afro when the gale force winds of open taxi windows blow your hairstyle down. Also forget about taking a nap against the window of a taxi or bus unless you want to wake up with a different hairdo.

“Two big plaits help with shrinkage and allow you to sleep without the hassle of having to wake up with one side flat and the other not.” – Pridey Pankhurst (22), who has had natural hair for three years.

4. Graduating

When the graduation cap was invented, it was not expected that people of colour would be graduates. Now that we are out here slaying the degrees, the graduation cap design should be re-examined. I don’t want to have to compromise wearing my voluptuous afro for anything else on my big day.

“Bobby pins did the trick for me, and I cut out the parts that weren’t working. I’ve also seen people hot-gluing a headband to it. Any other hat, if I’m going to wear one, I will keep it on the entire day.” – Sofia Alexis (22), who has natural hair for four years.

Opening image by Lufuno Ramadwa