Jola Naibi

Writer and amateur photog. I seek to inspire and inform with the words I write and share and the photos I take. I have written a book of short stories: Terra Cotta Beauty, and I am working on a lot more. Reading and writing fuel my energy. In reading, I explore this vast and diverse world, in writing, I employ my over-active imagination and address the 'what-if' questions that life often throws at us.

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Black, Kinky and Proud!

By on January 12, 2007

I applaud Evette Collins (pictured) for her very public appreciation of black and kinky hair in her article extolling the virtues of natural black hair which appears in the latest edition of Newsweek.
She tells story of her hair woes in the hands of chemical processing
of hair in a journey which led her to appreciate her kinky hair and took her back to her roots…having walked down that path myself I know the journey all too well.

There is a saying that what you are told or taught is sometimes less the meaniful than what you discover for yourself…too true. When I was younger and growing up in Lagos…my mom never went to what might be called a regular hair salon to have her permed…she went to Aunty Eva’s. Aunty Eva lived in Onikan in downtown Lagos and she had converted her living room into a make-shift salon where she pressed/straightened women’s hair using a hot comb.

To say she was good was an understatement, she was a hair stylist genius…she worked alone and by a strict appointment schedule. My mom got her hair done there…I would say twice a month and when I ‘came of age’ I would also get my hair straighthened at Aunty Eva’s during school holidays…taking a break from the hair weaving styles – patewo, koroba, shuku, kolese.

Perming or relaxing my hair was completely out of the question and in those days actually forbidden in the all-girls’ high school I attended – in fact permed hair caused quite a scandal at one point with the principal of the school and some of the teachers putting the scissors to the hair of the students with permed hair causing a widespread uproar which led to the principal eventually losing her job.

By the time I was ready to go to college, peer pressure dictated that having your hair pressed at Aunty Eva’s did not fall into the category of so-called ‘hip’ things. I finally got a chance to relax my hair and I remember being thrilled at the prospect of being able to wash my long silky hair without having to worry about it turning kinky again as is usually the case with pressed hair.

Alas, my experience was similar to that of Ms Collins…my hair started to break and fall all over the place. My saving grace came in the form of weaves…I would use those to make up for the body that my hair had lost to relaxers. Through college and beyond, I always wore a weave – straight and curly, long and short, sewed on or glued on…I was rudely awakened when someone passed a comment that human hair used for weaves is actually the hair taken from female corpses in Asia! Quel horreur!

While I did not actually think that there was any truth to the statement…it made me question my reliance on the weaves in the first place especially when once upon a time I did have very nice hair. I decided to take a break from the weaves which had dominated my hair for close to a decade and switched to braiding. While the hair underneath was still relaxed, the undergrowth quickly thickened and what did not fall off of the relaxed hair was chopped off by yours truly. After three years, my hair was all natural and looking better than it had for years sans weaves. I had a rich and healthy looking afro that even Foxy Brown would envy.

However, in a moment of post-partum euphoria… I caved in and relaxed my hair in the summer of 05. I must admit that having my natural hair shoulder-length and full-bodied that first day made me feel nice and warnm inside…but once again, I was about to learn the lesson that my mom had been trying to teach me those years ago when she would take me to Aunty Eva’s – though this time it would resonate even louder – what is good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander and while relaxed hair works for some ladies…I am not one of them… it is possibly genetic!!! Within days of relaxing my hair I saw it fall everywhere…I had a wake-up call one morning when I was breast-feeding my daughter and pulled a long strand of straight hair out of her mouth. Ewwwwww.
That weekend, I went to have my hair braided and when it came time for the braids to come out (when I had enough undergrowth that is), I put the scissors through the braids and chopped it off and had a barber trim off what was left of the relaxed hair on my head. I have been wearing my hair short and natural for several months now.All that is about to change…I think I am ready to grow my hair again. This weekend, I am having it braided and as a reminder to stay away from the relaxers. I am taking a copy of Ms Collins’ article putting it in a frame and hanging it up in a prominent and VISIBLE place.
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8 Comments
  1. Reply

    Ore

    January 24, 2007

    A fellow nappy! Pleased to meet you.

    From your account of the permed hair-cutting debacle, I am guessing that you went to QC. LOL!

  2. Reply

    Jola Naibi

    January 25, 2007

    Hey there, fellow Nappy…nice to meet you too…yep QC class of 1990

  3. Reply

    Anonymous

    April 3, 2007

    Hmmm..who are you?I’m from the QC class of 1990 too. Reading through your whole blog. Very nice. Good job

  4. Reply

    Jola Naibi

    April 3, 2007

    @anon – Thanks for stopping by…who are you??? But that’s okay if you want to remain anonymous. Thank you for your kind comments about the blog…I appreciate it

  5. Reply

    Anonymous

    April 3, 2007

    OK. Do you have an email address I can reach you? I don’t want to put my name up. Thanks.You don’t have to though if it’s too much trouble. I understand you may also want to remain anonymous to even me. Do keep up the good work.

  6. Reply

    Jola Naibi

    April 4, 2007

    @anon – jolanaibi@gmail.com

  7. Reply

    cher79

    January 16, 2008

    Hi, Jola! It’s Evette…glad to hear that you enjoyed my story. I also enjoyed reading yours, too. I came across your blog today and it looks great! I’ll definitely be checking it out more often. Peace 🙂

  8. Reply

    Jola Naibi

    January 17, 2008

    Hi Evette, Thanks for stopping by. I still have a copy of your story hanging above my desk at home as a reminder. I am glad you shared your story…it was a major epiphany for me and as I have been made to understand, several others too…

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