As the natural hair movement sweeps across the United States and Europe, it’s also making its way to various corners of the motherland. The movement encourages African women, and others with kinky, curly, and otherwise not straight hair, to embrace their hair in its natural state.
Many women think that they can’t handle their hair without slathering it with a chemical relaxer. Over time, these relaxers can cause hair to become weak and brittle.
The natural hair movement reminds African women that they are beautiful just the way they are, and with the proper care methods their hair can be beautiful and manageable without chemical relaxers.
Among other African cosmopolitans, the natural hair movement has made its way to Lagos, Nigeria, which recently held its 3rd installment of the Natural Hair and Beauty Show.
The event, hosted by the Kinky Apothecary, one of Nigeria’s first natural hair brands, featured speakers from various countries, free hair and product consultation services, and a VIP lounge with Henna, nail painting, hair demos, and Absolut cocktails.
The event was not only a celebration of the natural beauty of African women and their hair, but also an opportunity for seasoned, budding, and potential naturals to network, ask questions, and share their tips and tricks.
The speakers included natural hair bloggers from all over the world speaking about their truths and sharing their experiences.
Los Angeles native Felicia Leatherwood ran a workshop titled, “Loving Your Hair”, while Kiitan A talked to the audience about protective styles and crochet braiding. Ijeoma Eboh, a Nigerian-American blogger, discussed the do’s and don’ts of dying natural hair, something she has been doing ever since she went natural. Wunmi Akiniagun held a natural hair styling workshop and Ronke Raji spoke about managing unrealistic hair expectations.
Most of the speakers didn’t just talk about hair, some took a holistic approach by urging people to live their best life in all by embracing their natural beauty.
Gaelle Prudencio, a Senegalese blogger living in France, talked about her journey to loving her body and herself. She reminded the audience that body positivity is about loving your body enough to take care of it and also not bringing others down by judging their bodies.
Yagazie Emezi, a multi-disciplinary artist and documentary photographer shared her photographs and spoke on challenging beauty standards through photography. Efik Zara held an interactive session with the audience, which pushed them to define their brand and be the best versions of themselves.
Nibi Lawson, the founder of Kinky Apothecary, was able to share some of her insights into the natural hair community in Nigeria. She believes that the natural hair community in Nigeria is still in its infancy but has certainly grown since she started her company.
When she first moved back from the U.K., she looked around and simply couldn’t find any products or services for women with natural hair. So she started Kinky Apothecary, not only to provide natural hair products, but also to teach people that their hair was beautiful and manageable in its natural state.
A few years ago, most people that commented on her natural hair wanted to know if she knew that relaxers existed.
Today, people are curious about her hair, but believe theirs wouldn’t look as beautiful if they were to go natural. Lawson wants people to fight actively against the notion that their natural hair might not be as beautiful as someone else’s. Her website uses the hashtag, #kinkspiration, to encourage women to post photos of natural hair styles that they like. The hashtag allows audiences to see the beauty of natural hair, while reminding them not to compare their hair to others.
Other bloggers and participants agreed that Nigerians still have a ways to go before the majority of women fully embrace natural hair. People who are easily offended by the shocked glances and rude questions about their hair may take longer to come around.
Some people shared that they were worried that they wouldn’t be able to care for their or that their hair was “too hard.”
Chinwe Nnajifor, also known as Igbocurls, revealed that she received similar reactions to her hair whether she was in a diverse and large cosmopolitan like Lagos or in a smaller inland city like Kaduna.
“We have to try to eradicate the ignorance,” she said.
Both Nnajifor and Lawson noted that many people rocking natural hair in the country had lived or schooled abroad, but that there was a growing number of Nigerian locals warming to the movement.
Although still young, the Nigerian natural hair community can only grow bigger and stronger, particularly by leveraging events like the Natural Hair and Beauty Show to bring like-minded individuals together to learn about how to take care and appreciate natural hair.