Inspirational, Tale Africa

African – kinky hair and all

By Vimbai Chimanikire, Zimbabwe:

A friend told me that my hair was too kinky and told me to get myself a nice Brazilian weave if I ever wanted to fit in modern-day society.

At 12, I would have gladly traded life-sized Mr Cuddles just to have my hair grow 3 inches in a week. It would now be a glorious long train of dreadlocks, and in their kinky thickness a representation of the African that I am.

Like the “typical girl”, my childhood memories consist of plastic tea cups, a home-made doll house that would dissolve under any sort of moisture and long-legged Barbie dolls with silky blonde hair, bright blue eyes and dazzling princess smiles.

All with caramel rubber skin…

I am not ashamed to admit that in my Barbie dolls I saw everything I wanted to be: That long silky hair I could do whatever with. My colour of choice? Ginger.

Tall with long smooth shapely legs that went on forever, and many a times I imagined I had a caramel skin tone so I wouldn't feel like I had dirt on my own skin all the time ; a nasty brown.

My braids always had to be as thin as they could possibly be so they would feel a little more like actual hair. Unfortunately, or not, I never got the opportunity to doll up and grace my lips with red/pink lipstick, or steal any of my mother's lace wigs ; because she never owned any of the above.

My admiration for my mother's disregard concerning the world's definition of beauty is undying. She has never been one to worry about the length of a weave, or what lipstick colour would pop against her brown skin. Only recently has she begun to braid; she kept a short trim of neatly combed natural black hair. She hates the way eyeliner makes her eyes itch, and how eye shadows make her look animated, not to mention the chapped feeling of layers of lipstick on her lips.

No, you will not find Mother dearest anywhere near the cosmetic section. And to her I owe much of my confidence.

You can let out that sigh of relief now and be glad to know that I finally understood and accepted what it means to be a Black woman. In those brackets; speaking your mind, standing tall with your head high even when the fall has soiled your every effort. It means loving hard today, and even harder tomorrow, waking up in the morning and smiling in the mirror because you have been blessed with more chances, opportunities, and above all – beauty.

“Your hair is too kinky”, “You are too dark”, “Try and act more like a lady”, “You are too loud”, “You will never make it”; You are Black.

I have come to understand that everything they shun in my Blackness is everything they could never be. I am not afraid to move; jumping to the beat of the Drum, or swaying to the rhythm of the Mbira. I will shout, laugh out loud, and ululate…because I have never been afraid of expression.

I am not apologetic for being Black, never will I be. I do not spite you for wishing you weren't Black. I do, however, pity you. Because Black is what you are in this life; and all you will ever be. So redefine it, if you will – but I am unapologetically black, kinky hair and all.

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  • Enzo

    .YOUR HAIR IS TOO KINKY’,’you are too dark’, ‘try and act more like a lady’, ‘you are too loud’, ‘you will never make it’, ‘you are black’. I loved this section and i think its the major theme: Africa is beautiful, we are beautiful, you made it clear that we are the only ones of our kind, thus they try to discredit whatever we are for their own benefit. Outstanding beautiful article, Alice Walker would love this aspiring writer!

    • Vimbai Chimanikire

      Thank you for the compliment Enzo. It’s sad how we have been insulted over the centuries. The scars will always be there, but we shall always be beautiful, and wear them with pride.