Saturday May 24 2014

Letting my spirit free through my untamed hair

The day Grace Kenganzi decided to step out with

The day Grace Kenganzi decided to step out with her hair as it is. Photo by Rachel Ajwang. 

By Grace Kenganzi.

No, I did not forget to comb my hair. And no, I’m not having a bad hair day. I have just accepted that I have hair with a mind of its own. It follows its own curling pattern. And if that pattern comes with kinks and coils here and there, so be it. Accepting this has brought peace to my soul and scalp.

But that doesn’t mean everyone is at peace with my kinky strands. I could sing to them India Arie’s I am Not my Hair but then they would find a problem with my voice then this would turn into a musical experience.
Back to my hair. Instead of defending the way I keep it, I have decided to concentrate on looking after it in a way that will keep both my soul and scalp happy. Hopefully, this happiness will rub off on the kinky hair naysayers.

To take care of my hair, I research. Research like I’m preparing a thesis. I have pored over blogs and books by women with natural hair.
I watch video after video on washing, conditioning and styling my hair. I have gone to the bathroom with my phone just to follow a video’s instructions, step by step. In short, I have made it a point to understand my hair.

By understanding my hair, I can manipulate it into some semblance of order. And I have accepted that my hair will catch on to the manipulation and get back to its wild self. So far, I have learnt that my hair gets thirsty … a lot. I feed this thirst with moisture, both water-based and oil-based.

I have also learnt that there are different types of shampoo and that my hair and scalp don’t agree with some. For instance shampoos with sulphates in them will strip my hair of its natural oils and cause my scalp to dry faster. Since I discovered this, dandruff has left me alone.

I have become those people who read the ingredients on a product before I put it in my hair and so far, it is worth the squinting I do while trying to make out those tiny words. Random thought –why do they put the ingredients in such tiny font?

The biggest lesson, and why my hair looks like crazy half of the time is that combing hurts my strands and scalp. Sure a wide-toothed comb comes in handy in controlling the coils, but it also means that I am pulling at the strands as the comb tries to go through the hair.

To “comb” my hair, I use my fingers, after making sure my nails are filed so the strands don’t get caught on a jagged nail. I also make sure my fingers are well oiled, which explains why my hair always smells like coconut oil.
These lessons have let me let my hair free and oh, how liberating it is!

That day’s experience

When I chose to step out of the house with my hair as it is, I had so many peculiar stares but inward, I felt freer that day than I have felt on the days I have struggle to tame the hair before stepping out into the world.