They say your hair is your crown. Your hairstyle speaks a lot about you. African women have for ages made efforts to make their hair look like that of Caucasian women. At times they have resorted to wearing fake hair commonly known as weaves.
Brazilian or Peruvian human hair tops the list of such extensions. However, there is a new wind blowing in the fashion circles in Malawi and beyond. African women are going back to the basics. Loving and embracing their kinky natural hair. Not to be left behind, Malawian women are now freely maintaining their natural hair without using chemicals to straighten or colour it.
It looks like there is a revolution or some kind of a realisation that natural is better. Be in natural dreadlocks or short natural hair, Malawian women have embraced nature.
Zuleika Fiona Nanguwo is a 20-year-old Miss Malawi aspirant who will be competing in the finals next year. During the Miss Malawi Southern Region finals she competed while donning her natural hair. No weave, no extension, no additives.
“I feel more beautiful in natural hair. I am a proud African and I want my Africanness to stand out using my hair. I do not like to use weaves and chemicals because they change me,” said Zuleika.
The third year journalism student said in the past, it was believed that permed hair makes a woman look more beautiful but the recent past has proved otherwise.
“Some African models who spot natural hair have changed women’s perceptions on hair. It is not that a particular type of hair is beautiful but I believe every hair, as long as it’s your natural hair, is beautiful. All you need to do is carry yourself with confidence and accept what God gave you,” said Zuleika.
Zuleika also blames the image that most moviemakers portray. She said the women in movies always wear weaves and straightened hair which make viewers to feel that is the only beauty we have in the world.
For Lisa Mpina, a hair stylist at Mama Chipo’s Touch, her journey with natural hair started two years ago.
“I used to have permed hair but when it was time to retouch, I kept getting sores due to the harsh and strong chemicals in the relaxers. I said enough is enough and embraced natural hair,” she said.
She said it has been two years and so far so good.
“I have also seen the surge in the number of women coming to my salon to have their natural styles. I enjoy styling natural hair though it can be challenging especially when the hair is too short,” said Mpina.
Mpina said there is a certain wind of change blowing among women and more and more women are embracing natural hair.
“Now I do style natural hair brides. This never used to be the case in the past in my career as a hair stylist,” she said.
Cathereen Makhasu, a 35-year-old nurse at one the private clinics in Blantyre, also has natural hair. She said after researching on hair relaxers, she realised that they contain harsh chemicals which are not good for her delicate skin.
She said: “I realised it is not worth the risk. I already have hair, let me just maintain it and not labour myself with chemicals. Besides, right now going natural is the in thing. Perming hair n’zachikale. And why should you buy another human being’s hair and wear it like your own?”
A peep at a Facebook group called Natural Hair Sisters confirms that Malawian women are into maintaining their natural hair.
Posts on the page contain information about how to take care of natural hair, the oils and shampoos to use, the styles to try and where to go for hair treatments.
Famous women who maintain natural hair include Alek Wek, the super model as well as Lupita Nyong’o.