What is Good Hair? – The Big African Woman Debate

What is Good hair?
This is a question that I will pose to every African Woman and man. I seem to have reached my nirvana with hair the day that I decide to go natural. It was a culmination of both an end to the suffering of burns from chemical relaxers, painful scalp from all the pulling and a sort of self realization that I loved myself as I am and did not need to have straight hair to look acceptable.(The song I am not my hair comes to mind by India Arie)

I do not know if there are any studies that have been done on what percentage of Kenyan Women still have their natural hair and those who have either relaxed(permed) or have weaves/wigs on but a spot check on the streets of Nairobi can give you a clue as to what the numbers are. Actually, I think Nairobi has more salons than it has pubs and there is none that lacks customers.
The hair and cosmetic industry is a multi-million dollar one especially in Africa because almost 90% of African Women relax their hair or wear wigs.
I have never been a fan of weaves and I am sure many men will concur with me(though they wouldn’t be caught dead saying it to their women). It is a debate that always ends up being nasty anytime I pick it up with my lady friends.
A similar debate became a nationwide discussion in the US as Chris Rock set out to find out What is Good hair? -A documentary that he has been researching on for 2 years.
The same elicited a huge confrontation on Tyra Banks’ self titled show part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and Part 5 a show that gave a feel of the real problem that African American women face with their hair, a problem that seems to be an underlying facade of a bigger problem of perception. and to some extent, inferiority.

In his documentary, CK notes that the idea was about by his daughter who kept telling him that she does not have good hair coz its nappy and curly and not straight and soft.

The documentary features one of my favourite poets, Maya Angelou and a host of other African American celebrities who confess to wearing weaves alot and not being comfortable with their natural hair.
Chris also reveals that most of the weaves are made from Indian Hair as India is the highest exporter of human hair.
The comic docu is to be released in select cities on October 9. but previews and info about it can be found here

My Hair
My hair is my air
Feel the flair
as you stare
its beauty a snare

Long hair is rare
in my country Zaire
but no one is aware
when I glare my horse hair

God was not fair
giving Indians more than their fair share
leaving me to despair.
this is no funfair
my short hair to forebear
I looked elsewhere with my prayer
Thank Buddha for human hair
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Njeri Wangare
kenyanpoet@gmail.com
Sept. 2009
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Showcasing the best in Kenyan Arts;Music,writing,Poetry,fine art and art reviews as well as info on emerging art trends. “Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite…getting something down.”