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-dry 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.
Creativity is seen everywhere and these individuals did something recently that’s never been done before, and some are still killing it. We see creativity on streaming platforms, stages, runways, social media and boardrooms even. Some of them are revamping their businesses, and lately, clothing sale is thriving.
They love concept-driven designs, storytelling and they bring fresh ideas and new perspectives that will leave footprints in the sand. Post the COVID-19 pandemic, these creative minds utilized the drawing board and they became cognizant that monetizing content will actually take them far, which is frank nonetheless.
This is commendable though, but the creative industry will still need support from government in order for it to flourish further. Allocation of resources (funds, facilities and empowerment) should be done consistently, creativity must be raised and at the end of the day, the economy benefits from that kind of investment.
Ever since he parted ways with his former manager, DJ Bougee Sid, Mahalapye born-pint sized, multi-award-winning artist, Hanceford Magapatona has been taking up space, unapologetically so. Han C has shown a strong will to take over the entire world, and he is in the right direction. He’s solely organizing the annual Mahalapye Spring Festival, which is taking place next weekend.
The Pepetetsa hitmaker raked some monies from his savings to put together this event. Mahalapye Spring Festival will feature Paige, Ubuntu Band, Khoisan, Amantle Brown and Double Up among others. Even though it didn’t come as a surprise, Han C was nominated at African Muzik Magazine Awards (AFRIMMA) in the US, under Best Male Southern Africa category.
However, the award was snatched by the late South African rapper, AKA. Its not all lost as Han C secured two nominations at the Yarona FM Music Awards (YAMAs): People’s Choice of the Year and Best Male Single.
This entrepreneur has turned his dreams into reality, and his promising apparel business is now a fashion destination. Matter of fact, Motswagole weathered the storms to be where he is now because through criticism and social media bullying, he still leads the pack in fashion.
His social media accounts got deleted but through his online store, KM Sales, Motswagole is able to rake in some profits. He initially started selling from his car but now owns a busy store and has employed a number of young people.
KM Sales has been offering fashionable items (shoes, t-shirts, pants) and has been participating in various lifestyle events such as Garden of Drip where it showcases its products.
If there is one young entrepreneur to draw motivation from is Koketso. The business started from humble beginnings, at the time when he worked part time at Ipelegeng as a casual labor. Indeed, good things come to those who wait, or well, work like a slave today, live like a king tomorrow.
KAGISO LUDO DE KLERK
Vee Mampeezy’s ex-wife Kagiso De Klerk clearly did not sit and weep over their dramatic divorce. The famous social media influencer hurriedly picked up the pieces and went hard on promoting business online. She literally took social media influencing to the head and it is working for her.
This year saw her partnership with Shell reach greater heights, and obviously, she is raking lot of pulas from the deal. Kagiso has been making frequent appearances in top events in South Africa such as Bubbles in Spring and Gold and Diamond Experience.
After a long break from the limelight, renowned media and radio personality, Gaona Dintwe is back. She was missed by many on TV, and she’s back where she belongs, news anchoring on BTV. Gaona has also found a niche in podcasting. She is a host of her own podcast, Gaona Live Conversation, where various people share their stories on camera.
Some of what they discuss is Gender Based Violence (GBV), polygamy and drug addiction. This is highly commendable because even BTV doesn’t have programs that discuss these crucial social issues. The Lentswelemoruti native is also seen in various corporate events where she is engaged as a host.
Now that one-man shows are made fashionable, traditional dance guru and ex-convict, Ditiro Leero is joining the crusade and he will be hosting his also. The show will be held next month at Zone 4 Farm in Selokolela, but the there are traditional dance music artists who have been lined up to perform at the show. Matshana, Morwa Leka and Maswailathota will be doing their thing and probably bring some heat too. Ditiro Leero will be making history as the first traditional artist to host a one-man show in Botswana.
With only two months before Miss World 2023, the reigning Miss Botswana, Lesego Chombo is having many irons in the fire, preparing for the much-anticipated beauty pageant. Miss World 2023 will be the 71st edition of Miss World pageant and it will be held in India. Chombo has been spotted toning her body at Jack’s gym, a requirement that is taken seriously at the pageant. She has also been participating in charity events, something that should add to her profile at the Miss World.