The tussle of rocking an afro

23 February 2018
Natural hair is beautiful; it’s healthy, versatile, and gets noticed.  Many may find it modern, lovely or even fascinating, but nobody knows the struggle that goes with rocking an afro other than those of us who do it.  I tell you now, it is not easy.
It is not easy in a sense that you are always tempted to relax your hair, , wear a wig or even go bald.  But, keeping a solid, healthy-looking afro takes a lot of work.
For the past two weeks, I have been rocking my afro. I must mention that these two weeks was also the time that my mother-in-law came to visit. I don’t think she has ever seen my natural hair, because I usually look good wearing a fancy head wrap, wig or extensions...Lol!
So, one morning she asked if the afro was “my hair”, while she moved closer to me to touch my hair.  I confidently said “yes, it is all mine.” Then, she gave me a lecture about how pretty I look in my afro.
My mother-in-law also asked whether I will continue wearing my afro.  I gave a non-committal response.  How one wears their hair is a personal choice.
You see, having natural hair is a lot different from having relaxed hair. If you are not aware, a relaxer is a very strong chemical that one puts on their scalp and roots for a certain amount of time, so that once it is washed out and blown dry, the hair will be straighter and (most of the time), softer and easier to style.
This all sounds nice and dandy, but after a long period of time, without constant hair products and proper touch-ups, these hair-straightening chemicals can leave scabs on your scalp, cause bald spots and destroy your hair.  
Afro hair and many beautiful hair styles, braids, and twists are a part of culture for black women.  We have been rocking natural hairdos for centuries. 
But let’s talk about the tussle that goes into rocking an afro.  The main enemy is dryness, breakage and split ends.  Just when you think your hair is growing, reality has other plans. 
Afro hair get so dry it sometimes feels like a damn desert.  Three to four days (or shorter) after you spend hours washing, deep conditioning, oiling the scalp, plaiting, moisturising, detangling and wrapping up, perm rodding, rolling and even twisting your hair, it’s bone dry all over again.
Then comes the cost and huge battle to get hair products needed to keep ‘natural’ hair looking healthy.  Between buying the expensive, organic natural hair products or the slightly suspect cheaper products that you know get the job done, there a lot of work involved in having an afro. 
Watch YouTube channels on this subject and you will get more confused about the ‘best’ products to use.
Some sites tell you to use products like castor, jojoba, hemp, coconut, or olive oils.  Other videos tell you that those clog up your scalp’s pores and should be avoided.  Some articles or videos praise mayonnaise, tea tree oils (or other essential oils), carrot juice, and even mud made from particular sands – all to be used in washing, conditioning or moisturising hair care.  The best we all can do is find someone whose hair looks great and ask them what they use.  
People touching my afro without permission, is not a good thing.  You cannot just put your hands in someone’s hair.  It is a matter of respecting someone’s personal space.  Just look at it and tell me you like it - that’s all. 
With natural hairdos, there’s no such thing as “wake up and go.” When I wear my afro, making it presentable is a process.  In fact, I wake up two hours earlier than usual just to get it right…Lol!
Most of us wearing natural hair don’t swim anymore, because of the tedious production involved in pre-swim and post-swim hair care.
Natural hair is great but just not for busy women all the time.  Many times, weaves, wigs, cornrows, and braids and colourful head wraps are great for us, they give us a break from natural hair care struggles.
At the end of the day, most women choose to mix it up and that is OK.  Sometimes we undertake the tussle of having an afro and sometimes we just wear a great wig or weave and rock that for a while. 


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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