Africa’s hair wars are far from over. A whole new generation of women is abandoning hair relaxers and straighteners for a natural kinky look. The Afro is definitely the style du jour, albeit with a twist.
Not only are women now only interested in growing their hair naturally, they are also learning about their African hair-a long overdue task, perhaps neglected for generations. Furthermore, they are going all out to embrace the curl in their kinks, finding ways to enhance them through styling and even shunning the comb. Twists, Bantu knots, crocheting are some of the ways Batswana women are using to define their kink.
Just in June this year, a “Hair Meet” was staged in Gaborone, and organizer, Kefilwe Loewen says about 100 people attended. According to Loewen, the turn up was very good. “Considering it was the first of its kind, and no one really knew what to expect I think it was really good.”
The show featured advices from key people from the hair and beauty industry, notably a trained hairdresser who presented on styling tips and products that are friendly for natural hair.
She revealed the presentations were mainly on, “Basics of hair – structure, and general makeup. This was important because most people only know relaxed hair, and once they move to natural hair they have no idea what to do because it is totally different in care and handling.”
“We also spoke about natural hair terms to know, blow drying techniques if one does blow-dryâ€¨and did Demos of how to do styles eg bantu knots, flat twists etc,” Loewen shared.
Loewen herself waves the banner for natural hair. She started a blog where she shared her natural hair journey and other tips on grooming natural hair. Furthermore, she started a Facebook page which so far has 2477 members. She went all natural in 2013. She has been experimenting with natural hair styles and twists and concedes she will never go back to relaxers.
African women have over time been under heavy scrutiny for their choice of hairstyles. African women who opt for relaxers, weaves or braids have been called un-African, women who wear dreadlocks or their natural hair have been praised for being connected to their African roots. However, opting for the natural look comes with its troubles.
African hair is versatile. A lot of African women’s texture is kinkier and consequently stubborn. In Botswana it’s popular for African hair to be referred to as “dikgobe”or “sekgwa”. Sekgwa means bush, ‘which derives from the bushy texture, dikgobe is a Setswana dish comprising beans and samp, or maize.
According to Loewen, a lot of women want to know how to make their natural hair softer and manageable or longer without using relaxers. “The main question I normally get is ‘How can I make my hair soft and manageable?” Of course there is no short and simple answer to this one because natural hair is so diverse,” Loewen said.
“Then follows, ‘How can I grow my hair fast?” And again, no fast answer, but what I do know is that natural hair grows amazingly beautiful, and it can become very long with proper care. From personal experience I’m always on the lookout for ways to keep my hair moisturized, which is a challenge for high porosity hair, and our dry climate doesn’t help. This is very important because dry hair breaks, and dry hair hurts, and dry hair doesn’t grow.”
The ubiquitous 70s trend has gained momentum in the last five years in the United States, although it has been present from way back as the 1960s. It has also gained track across the world, with natural hair advocates going all out to share information, tips and videos on social media with the rest of the world.
This however does not mean it’s all a smooth path for women returning to the natural hair look. Natural hair, locks included has overtime been considered unprofessional and unkept. A lot of women have opted for weaves or wigs to attain a more professional look, or to don a more acceptable look.
“Because of the general perception that natural hair is not beautiful, most people seeking to go the natural route don’t get cheerleaders, which is a very important aspect in this journey. Most people will tell me that they used to be natural, and then they reverted to relaxing,” Loewen said, adding that the natural hair group on Facebook, NHBots has been a support platform for women ready to give up on their natural hair.
“Some days you wake up and your hair is just not cooperating, so having other people telling you that hey, tomorrow will be better keeps one going for sure,” she said.
The greater challenge, according to many women who are not using chemicals for their hair is the lack of specialised hair dressers. Loewen further asserts that the access to products that are natural-hair friendly is very limited.
Keitiretse Bagele Bapindi has had her fair share of the hair game. She has relaxed her hair, locked it and now, though by coincidence bears the afro. Her journey with growing the natural afro began in 2009 when she cut her hair to re-grow her locks. But she instantly fell in love with her new growth and forgot all about the dreadlocks and decided to let it grow naturally. But that her hair texture is naturally soft is a plus for her. “I don’t do much to it, I use moisturiser and gel activator sometimes, shampoo and spray,” Bapindi said.
According to her, the afro style is very affordable because on some days she can do a wash and go, or cover it up with a scarf.
Two weeks ago, members of the NHBots group spurred on the craze with the hashtag, sekamoforwhat, for the Friday-Fro selfies. Every Friday, members post a selfie to the group wall, on this particular friday, members were encouraged to spare the comb for the day and share selfies to the group, showing off their curls.
Locally, some famous faces with the afro as their hairstyle of choice include poet and public speaker, TJ Dema, Ko Pisa hitmaker Gaone Rantlhoiwa and athlete, Amantle Montsho. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi has also for the better part of her career as cabinet minister also showed off a bulky afro, including former Speaker of Parliament Margaret Nasha.
This past week seemed like a time travel back to the early 1970’s where women were judged and stoned for what they wear, what they should wear, and whose attention their dress code will grab.
Every Tom, Dick and Harry gave their two cents on the matter, unnecessarily so. Its disheartening that in 2021 a woman is dictated to about what she should wear.
The genesis of the whole saga was because of a certified life coach and personal trainer, Agang Atlholang, derided as an example of an anti-feminist.
Atlholang updated a controversial post on her Facebook page where she seemingly attacked and dragged some women for wearing appealing clothes that leave little to the imagination.
The personal coach further went on to highlight that she could be fully clothed and be able to attract and steal some of these women’s lovers. Audacious of her to assume but more disheartening that her wardrobe is subliminally dictated by men.
It should be noted that this wasn’t her first controversial post where she has threatened or promised to take other women’s men, it may not be her last either but this post however did get on a lot of women’s last nerve.
“A woman’s sexuality is so much more than her thighs, (beep) and breasts. It’s your aura, confidence, seduction and the way you carry yourself, watching everything rock and roll in silence. I know who I am, I am a boss lady. I can still get your man without showing skin,” said Atlholang.
It is hard to place the fitness coach, is she pro-feminism or anti-feminism? Because one minute she would say something that makes sense and that almost everyone can relate to and other times she barks threats like a toothless bulldog.
She was not wrong to publicly and indirectly affirm that she doesn’t wear revealing outfits, but for her to be coming at those who do so was entirely out of line. How a woman presents herself to the world has a very little to do with a man’s preference.
Any personal liberation of what one chooses to clothe their own body is clouded by the misogynistic backdrop of the world we live in. In all cases, a woman’s body is assumed to be someone else’s before is it her own.
If she takes off her clothes, it is seen to be a sign of her insecurity and need for validation, rather than feeling comfortable with herself. Once she’s stripped, that’s all she is. This is the insidious pressures of misogyny that we all have a duty to attack and put in the past where it belongs.
WeekendLife reached out to Atlholang but her phone went unanswered. She did not respond to a questionnaire sent to her on Wednesday. Celebrated feminist Resego Kgosidintsi says there should be no expectations on what a woman does with her body. Some women are thick and curvy, while some are slim and petite, all body types are beautiful.
Kgosidintsi uploaded two pictures on her Facebook page in which she compared herself. In one picture she was only in a bikini on the beach whereas in the other picture she was wearing formal attire. She went on to say;
“I am the woman in both pictures, my worth did not decrease on picture 2 because I revealed almost all of my skin and neither is my worth on a 100 on picture 1 because my skirt is below the knee.
I have about 7 tattoos on my entire body and that still does not make me less of a woman. I drink and smoke cigarettes too and that doesn’t mean the woman in church who doesn’t smoke or drink more woman than me. Can we respect people’s choices, can we respect women.” Feminist, media personality and socialite, Oratile Kefitlhile shares the same sentiments as Kgosidintsi.
‘‘Feminism is subject, if I feel as a woman that when I’m fully dressed I’m celebrating my femininity, so be it. If another woman feels they are embracing their femininity more with their thighs out, that’s perfectly fine still. Let them be.
We have been preaching this revolution for a very long time of women being allowed to wear what they want, and being allowed to embrace their womanhood in the way that speaks to them, so I feel at this point we should not be having these debates,” Kefitlhile told WeekendLife on Tuesday.
Controversial poet, artist and businesswoman, Berry Heart is of the belief that women are envious towards each other. She argues that celebrating femininity has no boundaries subsequently making no one woman superior.
Quizzed on what makes women fight over small issues such as what they wear, she says “Batswana women are broken so much that we don’t want to see another woman succeeding on anything. We desire to make them dejected.”
You will know a tree by its fruits, the same way you will know a music producer by their works.
Top music producers in the country have set themselves apart through the quality music they produce and reap the results of international recognition from as far as the United States of America.
These producers are behind every star performer, listening and analyzing each and every note. When artists perform a vocal swell, rising to an octave that sounds like it’s going to shatter voice box, it’s easy to forget that someone was on the other side of the glass asking questions like, “Can you hit that note every night, or will it hurt too badly? Maybe we should lower the octave to save your voice?”
Producers make hundreds of decisions in each song, not to mention the push and pull relationships they have with talented performers.These relationships can make or break careers. Some of your favorite bands and artists wouldn’t be so memorable without a great producer helping to guide their distinct voices.
Kagiso Kenosi, or better known as Fella in the entertainment industry, is only 31-years old but he has already left his imprint in the music industry. The young chap, originally from Palapye, is not in the industry to add numbers, but to do his magic working behind the scenes producing hit song after hit song.
When most producers went to school to produce the hits that we hear today, Fella’s foundation and passion for producing came from being active in church.
“I grew up in a catholic orientated family where music is the essence of our religion. The love for music in its entirety emerged from enjoying singing at church and blossomed over the years as I grew up, being exposed to the internet and software’s such as fruity loops.”
Fella says he then learnt how to make beats and proceeded with vocal processing so besides the love for music, he had an amazing group of people who helped him reach his life dream; being the best in music production. The sky was the limit for Fella.
Unfortunately for so many music producers locally, this kind of hustle is basically about being famous. Some of them bite off more than they can chew just for a quick buck that doesn’t even go a long away for them. At the end of it all, these fly by night prima-donnas end up cutting corners and producing subpar records which eventually leads to a premature death for their careers.
Fella’s advice is that fellow colleagues should be patient and continue learning the craft, even if it means taking online tutorials. “Even though I’m still learning too, for I believe music is a fast infinite universe where no one can never say they know it all, I think believing in what one does, the level of creativity and being able to stand alone can do magic.
We living in an era where people go through a lot, so it is imperative for a music producer to be able to relate to those kind of situations. This takes only the right instrumentals, which will compliment emotions of an artist.”
The most asked question outside the music industry is; who chooses the instruments for a song, is it the artist or the producer? Fella gave his take;
“I make instrumentals and keep them until an artist comes to work on a song. That’s when I advise on whether I think the concept they chose goes hand in hand with the instrumentals. We will then look for a more appropriate song.
In some cases, artists can come and we record vocals without an instrumental and then get to make a beat on top of the recorded vocal which in that case guides me to make a relevant instrumental,” he said in an exclusive interview with WeekendLife on Wednesday.
Digging more into finding the difference between a producer and an engineer, Fella clarified that there is not much difference. There is actually a thin line between the two even though an engineer does more than a producer when dishing out a song.
“We use the word production to credit people who only make beats. Engineers are people who record vocals, clean them, do the mixing and master the song preparing the record for radio. I must say an engineer, does the critical components of a song.”
As young as he is, Fella has been through thick and thin with young artists. It has been a roller-coaster of emotions, because, frankly some of these fledging artists are way too complicated to work with. Fella admits that he too has flaws but c’est la vie, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.
“It’s always a blessing and quite exciting because these different people of different energies and mind-sets and creativity will humble you. It’s a chastening experience and also accords me with experience to manoeuvre and adjust to people with different characters.
So truly, it has helped me grow as a person, and a producer.”
Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) is known for its bad reputation that has been getting worse over the years. There has been a lot of chinwag, squabbles and the organization literally lost touch. It has gotten so bad that stakeholders pulled out, and members were left with no choice but to face the music alone.
Just when you’d think the waters are calm, the new Executive Committee awarded a fledgling company, Total Music Group, to handle the 2021 music awards. This move was seen as a biased decision that got BOMU members bent out of shape.
However, BOMU Secretary General, Rasina Rasina told Weekendlife that the Executive Committee that it has many irons in the fire. He indeed admitted without reluctance that, BOMU has been clouded by hubbub.
“We pledged when the new administration took over that it would begin with cleaning our own house. We have built structures as we had promised and we are glad that they are fully functional. One of those is the disciplinary committee.”
“BOMU has for a long time appeared to be lacking discipline and proper laid down procedures. This has led to the organization losing out big in its endeavour to serve its members and the entire music fraternity. The National Executive Committee, chapter committees and sub-committees have committed to ensuring that non proper governance and accountability shall take centre stage and this is all that is happening,” Rasina told Weekendlifeon Tuesday.
Rebuilding and rebranding a disintegrated intuition such as BOMU is not just a walk in the park, it needs concerted efforts and team work to actually reach that goal. A stitch in time saves nine, but as for BOMU, the entire union failed to address its dares a long time ago, but the union says everything is on track in recuperating public trust and fixing the mess created then.
BOMU Research and Policy Committee is hard finalizing a new code of conduct which will contribute significantly to how members and leadership conduct themselves and relate with each other for the furtherance of BOMU’s mandate, Weekendlifehas been reliably informed.
“We are doing everything according to our constitution, logic and reason. We advise our members that they should point out where the constitution has been breached and that they are at liberty to follow due process and report any misconduct to the disciplinary committee,” said Rasina.
This is following the suspension of some executive committee members and BOMU subscribed members for questioning the integrity in awarding the music awards tender. Some members, told Weekendlife that they will seek legal advice on the matter.
“We do have members who have already appeared before the disciplinary committee on various charges and decisions are yet to be taken. We also have members who are yet to appear before the committee for various complaints levelled against them. Current suspensions are related to various complaints and offences.”
With regard to appointing Total Music Group, BOMU National Executive Committee says it used Article 9.3.19 of its constitution. The article says; “The National Executive Committee of BOMU shall have the authority to enter into legally binding contracts on behalf of the Union.’’
Rasina says the leadership needed a company to manage, host and sell the BOMU awards for five years consecutively so as to attain stability and refurbish the brand image of both the music awards and the organization. “Without any money at our disposal, we debated on the best model and agreed that we should engage a company that also has the capacity to mobilize resources. We used our discretion and decided on a direct appointment model which is perfectly legal and constitutional.”