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.
After its initial outbreak with a cluster of pneumonia cases at a seafood, poultry and live wildlife market in Wuhan City, China, Covid-19 has spread rapidly across the globe. The virus has hammered economies worldwide and brought devastation to many.
On 16 September Shincheonji Church of Jesus, a church with thousands of members in various countries, held a global online prayer service to pray for the victims of the coronavirus and their families, healthcare workers, government officials and for the complete eradication of and cure for Covid-19.
The virtual prayer service was live-streamed to the entire congregation with more than 200,000 members in countries all over the world participating, including the USA, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Australia, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
In keeping with social distancing, health protocols and protecting its members from possible exposure to the coronavirus, Shincheonji arranged the virtual gathering for members to pray together in safety and set an example for others.
Prayers were mainly for the healing of those infected with the virus, for overworked healthcare workers who are struggling to fight Covid-19, and for people in economic distress in the wake of the pandemic. The overwhelming online participation from its members worldwide showed the desire and urgency to end this virus and for healing and restoration in communities.
The Chairman of Shincheonji Church Mr Manhee Lee suggested this online virtual gathering and said that all believers will continue to pray at the church’s worship services until the complete eradication of the coronavirus.
At least 1,700 of the church’s South Korean-based congregation have donated their blood plasma for research around an effective treatment. Convalescent plasma has also showed promise as therapy for Covid-19 and is believed to have reduced the severity of symptoms in critical patients.
“In order to defeat Covid-19, we need to embrace, love, and unite,” as global citizens, the church said. “We wanted to do all we can as believers by praying for the people working to prevent the spread of the virus and healthcare workers who are working at the frontlines of this battle against Covid-19 and we believe that God will answer our earnest prayers.”
The annual prestigious music awards, African Muzik Magazine Awards and Music Festival (AFRIMMA), has resumed this year. But this time around with a virtual version of it.
The awards that celebrate the originality of African music has unveiled their seventh edition. The awards seek to promote the African talent by bringing together on the same stage African legendary artists to celebrate African culture.
The event was established by the International Committee of AFRIMMA, in collaboration with African Union to reward and celebrate musical works, talents and creativity around the African continent while promoting the African cultural heritage amongst African countries.
However after the Covid-19 global pandemic, the event will not be hosted on a live global stage, but it will be hosted virtually and nominees are expected to deliver their performances virtually. The AFRIMMA Virtual Awards 2020 is set to be the first of its kind in the African music world with performances coming from different artists around the world and audience catching the performances, speeches and award presentations on multiple streaming devices.
Amongst the many who are nominated by the AFRIMMAs is local sensation Vee Mampeezy who has been nominated in the category for Best Male Southern African alongside music giants, Black Coffee- South Africa, Slap Dee – Zambia, Cassper Nyovest- South Africa, Master KG- South Africa, Jah Prayzah – Zimbabwe, Vee Mampeezy – Botswana, Shyn – Madagascar, Tshego- South Africa, Tha Dogg – Namibia and Yanga Chief – South Africa.
Mampeezy has established with WeekendLife that prior to that, he had received an email from AFRIMMA confirming his nomination. They wished for him to perform which he said he will confirm the performance first with his manager, but as for now he is not sure if he will be performing.
“We have accepted the nomination. It is such an honour to be nominated alongside music giants like Black Coffee. I am very excited, others I am not as excited to be nominated alongside them because I have been nominated before with them. I do not mean to say they are not great, they are great in their respective right,” he said.
“We should be excited as a country that Botswana has been nominated as well. Before anything else, the fact that we are there as nominees makes us winners. It is such an honour to be recognised more so that Botswana is a small country with a very small population.”
Famous and most decorated artists the likes of Diamond Platnumz, Mr Flavour, Harmonize, Davido and Jah Prayzah are also amongst the nominees. However, South African based artist affectionately known as Master KG has been nominated six times for Video of the year, Best Male Southern Africa, Artist of the year, Best Collaboration as well as song of the year.
Master KG’s song ‘Jerusalem’ has been making waves internationally, and it was used mostly during the pandemic to shake off the Covid-19 anxiety. The song was nominated after South African Music Awards (SAMA) failed to nominate the young talented artist.
The Queen does this through school tours, tree planting activities, street campaigns, coastal clean ups, speaking engagements, shopping mall tours, media guesting, environmental fairs, storytelling programs to children, eco-fashion shows, and other environmental activities.
Even though this auspicious year has been faulted by the COVID-19 crisis, Miss Earth Botswana 2020 Seneo Perry has seen this as a chance to fix her crown, and get dirty in conserving the environment. This is highly impressive as it expresses how dedicated she is not only in wearing the crown, but putting in some work to create a better greener world.
Perry is a Botswana based environmentalist, equipped with a degree in Entrepreneurial Business Leadership from Sheffield Hallam University (BAC) and a top 5 finalist in Miss Earth Botswana 2019. As an eco-warrior at heart, she has dedicated her time and energy towards educating and empowering the next generation on the importance of preservation and careful management of the environment and natural resources (a clean and safe environment.)
Miss Earth Botswana will be hosting SOS Children for a film documentary dubbed “Into the Okavango” on Saturday 19th September, in Tlokweng. This initiative is influenced by National Vision 2036 Pillar of National Values which is our identity, our unique natural and cultural resources, tolerance of diversity as well as national values constitute a value preposition that makes Botswana a place to live, work and do business.
In an exclusive interview with WeekendLife, Perry’s Manager, Shimah Keakopa, said the purpose of this event is to encourage the children to open up their minds a bit more to think outside the box as they are about to choose their career paths and what more they can offer to their country as upcoming young leaders.
“This event is held under the theme ‘‘Botswana will have healthy ecosystems that support the economy, livelihoods and our cultural heritage as well as enhance resilience to climate change’’. We strive to help young children grow up knowing their purpose in life and what they actually do in achieving their ambitions.”
For her part, the queen said since 2013, conservation topics have always attracted her interests towards achieving a clean and safe environment for the benefit of humanity. She said “Botswana relies heavily on the tourism industry as it contributes 7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Our tourism industry has been characterized as more of a fauna and flora type, which is the great attraction to local and international tourists.”
“Therefore it is imperative that we conserve and continuously engage in environmental issues, to preserve our untouchable pristine wilderness. Furthermore people who live closest to natural resources generally absorb the greatest cost associated with conservation,” she said.
Perry told WeekendLife that a lot still needs to be done to ensure everybody is of one mind in an effort dedicated towards environmental conservation, which not only benefits the flora and fauna but the economy as well through activities such as agriculture and tourism.
“In Botswana, there still not enough policies (some outdated) and public awareness towards environmental conservation, especially the collective effort that should exist between government, private sector and Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs).
Whereas members of the general public do not have adequate access to the information on the importance of environmental conservation and this results in them being unaware of the best practices and standards in environmental conservation,” she said.
When she is not impressing at beauty pageants, Perry is a Managing Director of “Restoring the Prime Colour of the Earth” a charitable organization established in 2019 with the objective to educate both young and old people the importance of keeping a clean and safe environment and to restore the breath-taking landmarks in Botswana.