A new trend has hit Harare that has seen black women forgoing chemically straightened hair and weaves and embracing their natural hair. ‘Natural hair’ as it is called, is the way hair grows out of the scalp without alteration, and generally used to describe unprocessed hair worn by people of African descent.
The movement was founded in the USA during the 2000s and in French-speaking countries the movement is called mouvement nappy. Harare is now in the throes of its very own natural hair movement which encourages and promotes women of African descent to wear their natural, afro-textured hair.
In the past, many women have been reluctant to wear their hair natural. This is because of the perception that it is too difficult to maintain, breaks easily and is hard to retain the moisture that allows hair to be easily managed and styled fashionably at home. Moreover, many hair salons do not offer natural hair care or trendy natural hair styles, leading women to opt for weaves which are practical or chemical straighteners which are more manageable.
Harare News spoke to Nyasha Shingayi Adler, founder of Kinky Fros and recent contestant on ZBC TV reality show Simba Savannah. Adler is a trained architect who started keeping her own hair natural after years of having it chemically straightened. Her decision to keep her hair natural inspired her to start Kinky Fros, a natural hair studio that styles and cares for natural hair.
“My hair would always reach a certain length and then it would start to break even in its natural state. I became really concerned and started to do some research. Because of the global natural hair movement, more information is widely available online about how to take of natural hair. I started learning about coconut oil and olive oil and how it was good for natural hair.”
Adler’s own hair journey led her to discover the best methods and products for natural hair. Adler says the cheapest and most easily available product to care for natural hair is water. “Our hair is like a plant and every plant needs water to flourish and grow. A good way to have healthy hair is to clean and moisturise your hair and scalp.” Adler adds that a simple way to keep natural hair moisturised is to fill a spray bottle with purified or bottled water and one tablespoon of either olive oil or coconut oil. Once shaken together, Adler advises using the mixture as a daily moisturising spray to nourish the hair and encourage growth.
Unfortunately wearing your hair natural is controversial as seen in the Pretoria Girls High School incident which made worldwide headlines this past August. In that case – high school girls of African descent say they felt pressured to relax their hair and faced discrimination and harassment from teachers if they did not. The case led to an international outcry with women worldwide saying that even in the workplace, they feel pressured by their bosses not to wear their natural hair as it is viewed as unprofessional or ‘untidy’.
Harare News asked a few Harare women what made them decide to begin wearing their natural hair. Radio and television personality Ruvheneko Parirenyatwa said, “What motivated me to go natural was a conversation I had with Dr Solomon Guramatunhu. He was just emphasising the fact that he doesn’t understand why us as African women have assumed an identity that is not ours. It got me thinking because what he said was so factual and true. But none of us really have the guts to ask ourselves the same question. I then gave myself a challenge: can I pull off my own natural hair and still look good and above all feel good? Well, I still feel beautiful and authentic because I am one hundred percent me.”
Harare News also spoke to Tafadzwa Chiwanda who recently decided to switch from chemically straightened hair to keeping her hair natural. Chiwanda said “It’s easier to maintain and the natural look is healthier than putting chemicals in your hair.” Grace Makusha added, “I stopped having weaves and straightening my hair because it seemed to be very artificial. It is society’s standard for what beauty means” she said. Whatever the reason, it seems Zimbabwean women have embraced the natural hair movement.
For more information and tips on how to take care of natural hair visit the Kinky Fros Facebook page.
Image: (left to right) Raviro, Tamar, Nyasha (founder of Kinky Fros), Wadzanayi and Ruvimbo.
Image Credit: Tnash Photography.