'My hair is my crown'

LONDON - Social media sites were trending with various Zimbabweans for different reasons. However, amidst the tumult, I was amused to see the "hashtag" #musorowangu, a campaign spearheaded by Nyaradzo Mugarisanwa, a member of our Daily News Style Panel.

This week Nyaradzo, a knitwear designer, is our guest columnist and talks us through the idea behind this campaign.

Below is her contribution:

I grew up being told I had hardcore 'MaShona type mufushwa hair.' I have an abundance of hair so thick and dense you cannot see my scalp. The kind that makes a scrupulous braider increase her price. Initially my mother tried to keep my virgin hair but I remember being 4 years old and losing the battle to what I think now was a texturiser.

Years later I transitioned to smooth American boxed relaxers that had little girls with silky tresses, hair accessories and enviable hair. This led to years of a mindset that my hair had to be straight to be manageable. My hair grew long with no problems until I moved to the United Kingdom aged 17.

Cynthia Mtombeni

When I moved the battle of doing my hair began. I understood why my mother had advised me to braid my hair. It dawned on me why every diasporan aunty scrambled to find a braid technician before she flew to foreign lands.

Used to paying someone to do my hair I was put off by the salon rates, I'd convert the pounds to Zimbabwean dollars and walk away. For the next few years I maintained my hair as best as I could until I got over the pound –to-Zimbabwean dollar mentality.

Grace Senga

I started going to a British hair dresser who suggested I go natural as a way to nurse my hair back to health and then relax at a later stage if I wished to do so. I gradually cut off the relaxer and grew a large Diana Ross afro in the space of 3 years.

Then the panic of moving cities for university made me relax my hair again which I regretted almost immediately. The relaxer cycle continued for 5 years where I managed to grow my hair to 14 inches. As long as my hair was, it was not healthy. I started researching on how to relax my long hair on YouTube and with the rise of the hair vlogger I soon realised that my hair did not need to be relaxed.

Lani Masuku

I later came across Lani Masuku of Phrogroup and have watched her healthy hair care campaign grow into www.phrogroup.com. She is a Zimbabwean hair vlogger and wanted to show that hair could be healthy relaxed or natural.

Lani says, “I am passionate about well-informed hair care decisions for all. Whatever choice a lady makes, having fact-based information to guide them with their choice is very important.”

Noma Ndlovu

Empowered with this knowledge, I realised I missed my big hair and made the decision to do the big chop. When I cut my hair, a lot of people were shocked. I went from 14 inches to a grade 3 cut. Even my barber kept on asking me if I was sure. People were divided with one Zimbabwean man telling me I looked like a widow who was constantly hungry. An uncle offered to pay for my hair care if money was the issue. Another person asked me when I was going to s-curl my hair.

Some thought I had a breakdown due to the stress of my final year at university. Come graduation time one friend asked me when I was going wig shopping and what my cap would sit on, err my head of course. At one point my father laughed at me and said I looked like Don King, the boxing promoter known for his outlandish afro.

Nyaradzo Mugarisanwa

As I grew my hair I realised that it was a thing of beauty. I have grown a special relationship with my hair and I now know what works. I have learnt to be more sensitive to the needs of my hair and know how to adjust my hair care regimen based on how it feels and looks at the time. I am more aware of the ingredients in a product and how they affect my hair on contact.

The way I view my hair has rubbed off on the people I love. A number of my family and friends have cut their hair and are taking a more natural and holistic way of hair care. Natural hair care is not for the unfortunate, neither is it to be hidden under a weave or wig. My natural hair triggers a lot of dialogue for me wherever I go. Many ladies say it suits me but they could never do it.

Tatenda Zengeni

I would like to change that. It begins with changing your mentality; unshackle your mind to free your roots. My hair is an extension of who I am.It is an accessory and part of my image. I aim to show ladies that you have so many styling options for your virgin hair. When I have a daughter I want that love of my roots to extend to her. I started a campaign on Instagram called #musorowangu and asked all the natural ladies I have built rapport with to describe their hair in one word. My hair is my crown, she makes me feel regal. Have a look on Instagram, use the hashtag #musorowangu and see what the afroed sisters are doing. You will be surprised at how many Zimbabwean sisters have taken the plunge. What is your view on natural hair? Do you think this is just a trend?

Find me on Instagram as 'nyaduv', I'd love to begin the dialogue with you and help you wear your crown with pride.

*Pamela is a Zimbabwean fashion journalist and fashion accessory designer based in the United Kingdom. She can be contacted on pamsamasuwo@live.co.uk

    Comments (2)

    Thanks Nyari for the Echooo on natural hair. I too have natural hair and I get annoyed when I go to the dresser for a hairdo and they insist on relaxing my hair. Natural hair is beautiful!!!

    Michelle Mtemeri - 12 June 2014

    I too follow Phro's hair challenge and I think its awesome, love your msg and I think im going to go through with maintaining just my natural hair,something that a lot of people have been discouraging me to do...thanks for the msg

    florence masendu - 13 June 2014

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