Last week, I wrote about my irritation with the saying and mentality that ‘a woman’s hair is her crowning glory’. I wrote about the schemes that many people in my life employed to trick me into growing my hair during the 14 or so months that I chose to shave it bald. I also wrote about the craziness I encountered when finally I decided to grow and style it.
I had reached the part of the story where a hairdresser in Wandegeya tried to assault my scalp with Ariel detergent.
After my escape, I made peace with the fact that I would never again be welcome in Yusuf’s salon and turned to YouTube for inspiration. For the last two years, a natural hair revolution has swept over the internet and there has been faithful documentation by black women from all over the globe, on all kinds of platforms from YouTube to tumblr to Facebook to pinterest.
I was therefore confused when it proved hard to find a short and simple instructional video. I shifted my research to Google and keyed in all the variations of the words ‘spiky natural hair’ that I could think up. My luck was meagre.
It became clear that the information I wanted was deliberately hiding from me and so I decided to learn by trial and error.
I called my best friend, secured her commitment to my cause and then bought three kinds of locking gel. I also bought a bathing sponge woven out of string and went over to her house. On arrival, I washed my hair and proceeded to rub my scalp first with the sponge and then with my palm. I rubbed and rubbed and rubbed and rubbed. By the time I thought about giving up, the hair over my ears had spiked up but the rest of it remained bunched up like defiant steelwool. I also had a raging headache and the skin of my scalp felt and looked like bruised tomato skin.
I took my sorrows to back to facebook and finally caught my first break. Apiyo, that dear girl offered to help. Herself a lover of stress free hairstyles, Apiyo is a veteran as far as sharp hair is concerned. Reader, I knew this from the very beginning. Why hadn’t I contacted her earlier? I have no idea.
It took 30 minutes of rubbing to turn my head into a mass of spikes and I walked out of her house preening like a pampered pony. I made sure to stare every cute person in the face, mentally ordering them to propose marriage. I felt fabulous and felt the need to show people outside my social circles how great I looked. This search for attention led me to National Theater the next Thursday evening, for a show by Fun factory.
Was I distraught when I saw Anne Kansiime rocking my very hairstyle? Yes. Did I irrationally decide that she’d somehow stolen it from me? Yes. Did I magically forgive her when I got the opportunity to take a picture with her? Of course. The lady is hilarious.
During the course of the show, I managed to win myself a free hairdo of my choice at Jephi’s salon on parliamentary avenue. Even though I love Kansiime and had totally forgiven her for making me feel less special about my hair, I decided the time for a change had come.
Jephi’s is upmarket and its workers are very skilled but the director was irritable and snappy during the first five minutes of my arrival. When, however, he heard that I would be writing about my experience, his attitude totally changed, of course.
The golden spikes on my head have been a source of much chagrin in the hearts of some of the very people who were complaining about my baldness. Dad took my sister Jero aside and asked her, “Have you told Mildred how bad her hair looks? It’s terrible! It looks like nothing. Go and tell her to remove it!” Smh. In matters of hair, you’ve just got to do you.
Here are some pictures: