Saturday, May 27, 2017

#curlyhair-10 things I have learnt since going natural

The belief out there is that all cushites have good hair and by good hair I mean soft, long silky,straight locks, there are those who have such hair but a good number have kinky/curly hair (mostly curly). I naturally thought I had 'good hair' because lineage right? but a certain salonist broke all my hair bliss by saying 'you should consider texturizing your hair, it is kinky', I remember thinking get-out of here! What do you mean kinky?, because if you have any Somali friends you know that kinky hair is called jareer and it's not looked upon favourably especially on a female's head. Lots of online hair research reveals that I have curly hair that is type 3 C with medium porosity and is really good hair in the naturalista world.My online hair research also tells me no hair is better than the other and the definition of good hair is very subjective.

The beginning; a hair story

Salonist in chief; just one of the many tasks that  mothers do.
For the longest time my mum was my chief salonist, she washed my hair, oiled and plaited it.This worked great until I joined  high school, a boarding school far away from home and she couldn't stay with me.I was very unfamiliar with hair and the hard-work of taking care of it, most of my school mates however were quite the experts! some had permed hair and could STYLE their hair into beehives,do fringes,had rollers and knew how to use them, they knew what treating their hair and growth meant. Meanwhile me and my little hair skills/knowledge had the biggest struggle each morning getting my hair into a neat enough pony tail.In due time I learnt that the school allowed students to have two corn-rows, made a friend who could plait hair-Betsy Gatwiri(aka my high-school shero),she oiled and  plaited my hair every Saturday evening, in return I would also oil her hair, a good symbiotic relationship if you ask me.All through high-school I was the chubby girl in corn-rows.

After high school came campus and there is where I realized hair is truly a thing!!!! My room-mates went to the salon every other weekend,changed hair-styles so often even when the previous hair-style was still neat(why??). You are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with and all the people around me were really big on hair and in no time at all I relaxed my hair. The ease that comes with permed hair; no drama combing it,your hair suddenly is the soft, silky, straight locks you have been dreaming about, yaani, if you could, you would stand infront of a mirror combing it all day. Pure bliss. This happiness is mostly short lived as chemical treated hair comes with its rules; your hair shouldn't come into contact with water, after every two weeks you must go for  'hair treatment',pink lotion is your friend and other such rules.As a newbie to chemical treated hair I did not take any of these rules seriously and  a lot of my hair fell out. I am always in my hijab and so I decided who needs hair anyway and cut all of it off and was bald!!

I don't remember much of my bald days because soon after shaving my hair off I started growing it back, the struggle! Growing hair is not a joke. I would braid my hair and half the braids would fall off, eventually my hair grew back and because bad habits are hard to shake, I relaxed my hair again. To make matters worse I coloured my hair blonde. For  quite a bit of time, I had this beautiful blond relaxed hair that I so loved. Taking care of coloured relaxed hair is not easy especially for one like me who likes low maintenance hair. I would comb my hair and there would be so much shedding, because I had become an 'expert' in hair I bought so much anti-breakage/strengthening hair products and used them religiously but none worked.

To prevent 'unnecessary' shedding I decided to stop combing my hair, I would still wash and treat it but I did not comb it.My hair had other plans though as I was slowly becoming a Mau-Mau as in I had UGLY 'dreadlocks'.The easier thing would have been to shave my hair off but I knew the struggle of growing hair too well and so I did the obvious and combed my 'dreadlocks' out.

Curls run the world; a natural hair journey

After my 'dreadlocks' I spent a lot of time researching how to grow hair back, in the course of this I came across many natural hair blogs. I found out that relaxers are called 'creamy crack' and are to be avoided(ha ha ha). Seeing all the hair bloggers and their hair that looked so good I decided to embrace my curls, understand them, love them and take care of them.

Sharon Mundia is my go to girl for all things beauty, when I made the decision to go natural, I went to her blog and read reviews of products that she uses on her hair and went out and bought those that she highly recommended(the irony! of this because she has permed hair). The long and short of it; at that time she felt ORS range of products worked really well,online reviews said the same thing and therefore I got them(the deep conditioner,leave-in and hair mayonnaise). I have used them since and so far so good.

One year and 10 months is a lot of time and this is what I have learnt so far.

1. The ends are most fragile.

You know when you have relaxed hair and the growth is the hardest to take care of as it's new hair,well with natural hair it's the opposite,you should take more care of the ends of your hair as they are the oldest hair and are therefore more prone to breakage,also for you to see any growth you have to ensure the ends are healthy and not breaking because that's how you retain length and long hair is something we all want.

2. It’s not the products, its your regimen.

There is the misconception that natural hair is cheaper to maintain than relaxed which is such a big lie because for you to have a healthy natural mane you will need to use some products; shampoos, conditioners,deep conditioners,protein treatments,different kinds of oils(coconut,olive,castor,almond..............). These products should be silicon free, sulphate free and as organic as possible and most of them aren't exactly cheap. It's also very easy to fall into the trap of buying too many products because each natural hair blog you read talks of different products and sometimes very highly of said products.

The products will not do the work for you,if you buy them and rarely use them, yes good products are important but if you do not have a good hair care regimen or have one and aren't sticking to it, all the expensive products in this world would do very little for you.

The good thing with natural hair is that it loves natural home-made treatments and if one is on a budget they could use items from their kitchen and make treatments like avocado treatments,egg treatments and yoghurt treatments.

Key is deciding on a regimen, being realistic when doing this and sticking to the regimen come rain or shine.

3. Moisture/ LOC

The main thing that will help you to grow your hair is moisture because if your hair is properly moisturized, it's soft and when you comb it,it does not fall out hence length retention.

I have found that the Liquid Oil Cream(LOC) method of moisturizing hair works best for me. I use water as my liquid, coconut oil as my oil and whipped shea butter as my cream.Using this method what you do is first you apply water on your hair enough to wet it but just enough so that its not dripping wet, then you apply coconut oil and finally the whipped shea butter.There are other methods of moisturizing hair that are out there, find out which one works best for your hair and use it.

4. Satin/silk scarfs

I cannot over-emphasis the importance of ensuring that your hair is well moisturized and ensuring your hair stays moisturized for as long as possible.One of the ways to keep your hair moisturised for longer is to invest( 100-200 bob investment :-) :-)) in silk/satin scarfs that you would tie on you head when going to bed.The usual old stockings and kitambaas made out of cotton that most of us use contribute greatly to de-moisturizing hair because they tend to absorb a lot of the oils from your hair.

5. Water is your best-friend

Who would have thought water is good for your hair? because we grew up knowing your hair shouldn't come into contact with water unless you are washing it.Natural hair loves water as moisture really is water and in the natural hair world moisturized hair is healthy hair and healthy hair rules.

 6. Heat is your 'enemy'

Heat here means; hair dryer,blow dryer and flat iron ( these are the only ones I know off). To explain why heat is your enemy; would you use any sort of heat on your skin to straighten it, I am guessing the answer is no, because, we all know heat will cause a lot of damage to the skin.This is the same for hair, using heat on it might make it look really nice in the short term but the long term effects aren't good.Ditch all your blow-dryers and flat irons and get wide tooth combs.

7. Wide-tooth combs

Natural hair is prone to tangling and if you aren't too careful when de-tangling,you will end up loosing a lot of hair, which is a bad thing, good news is that this can be avoided/minimized. Wide tooth combs are a naturalistas close companion.Also as much as possible always try and use your fingers to detangle your hair first.

8. Protective styles, tight buns and over-manipulation of hair.

Natural hair grows best when you leave it alone, that's why you see people with dreadlocks having really long hair.When I first went natural I was so eager to manage my hair that I would comb and plait my hair ( I learnt how to do this) each night before going to bed and would then in the morning un-do the braids and comb my hair into a tight bun.I used to do the tight buns because I have a lot of hair on my head and this was my way of containing it.

Then as I read more and more natural hair blogs I learnt that what I was doing was over-manipulation and was doing more harm than good to my hair. I went on YT and  taught myself how to do flat twists and two strand twists and now I mostly have two strand twists on as they look better under a hijab.

Talking of hijabs, one of the commonest hairstyles to have under it is a juu-juu,which is a form of tight bun and because I am always in a hijab, I always had a juu-juu/mosodo.I found out this is harmful for my edges and so now I am mainly in loose buns to protect them edges.

9. Read reviews before buying products and buy the smallest at first to test them.

To save money before buying any product, do some research on it, because then you would see what other people who have used it think about it. A lot of the times if loads of people are giving it negative reviews then chances are you would also not like it.When trying out new products buy the smallest one first, if you like it, you will buy more and if not then you wouldn't have spent too much on it.

10. Hair goals

It's good to have hair goals because they will help you stick to your regimen because sometimes one can get really lazy and goals always act as a wake-up call.Different people have different goals-length goals,moisture goals and healthy hair goals.Decide on what you want to work towards and do your best to achieve this.

If you have read this far,I must say you are truly awesome :-). What hair tips/products/tricks have worked for you? Share :-) :-)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Shhh! Meeting in progress

Story of my life
'African time' is real  but more-so in this town I live in, we have embraced the concept and taken it to new levels, because people do not get impatient when others are late to a meeting or an event, we have come-up with things to do as we wait for the late-comers to show up; people carry their computers so as to not waste time,spend time on their phones and others like me come sit and stare into space/walls waiting for the meeting/events to start.

Is it just me or does everyone else love/prefer meetings that have food, no? people want time-saving, efficient meetings,well I want all that also, but a cup of tea has never hurt anyone, call me greedy but the meetings I love the most are the ones that have food, that's why I fondly remember PA committee meetings because, they were always mostly held at the student's mess and we would have tea and chaps(free tea and chaps), when tea and chapatis at the mess were such a luxury.

A while back I wrote this post about meetings and I figure 3 years is enough time for an update :-) and reading the post I thought, wait, what! why am I still note-taker instead of being legend 😀😀😀.

Types of people who attend Garowe meetings.

The I rather be at the office ones

These are the people who start their computers as soon as they are seated and actually work,how do you know they are working? they have no ear-phones on,they do not ask for the wi-fi's password and when you look at their faces they actually look absorbed into what -ever it is their are looking at on their computers.

cause of a lot sleepless nights and tears sometimes.
The meetings that has the most of these people are those that require people to make presentations and because apparently I am not the only person who sometimes doesn't fully read invites to meetings a lot of these people only realise the meeting requires a presentation two minutes before they come in and there is no way the truth will work, so what do they do? pray they are last in the list of presenters and work on their presentation while every-one talks/presents.

The I will catch-up with all my friends/on-line accounts I love.

Worse than the 'I would rather be at the office ones' are those who come with sole intention of catching up with their friends and all the on-line accounts they follow, as soon as they walk in the first thing they ask for is the wi-fi password and they will spend 90% of their time scrolling through their phones.What kind of disrespect is this! I understand those who are catching up on work because God knows sometimes deadlines!!! but scrolling through your phone, yaani, if I had power I will have this people to kneel down and raise their hands up high as punishment.

The Unprepared

A lot of times meeting invites are sent to the head of office right? and sometimes said person is too busy and would only tell you about it, 10 minutes to the meeting time and when you look at the agenda, you see agency updates; time allocated 15 minutes per agency and this when panic hits you (at-least sometimes I panic because 15 minutes is a lot of time). My to go to plan always is to write everything down and think about what I want to say and arrive 'early' and refine my list at the meeting venue because people are always late.

But there are people who actually come and say I have no update but would have the relevant person send you the updates! and I am sure every else thinks then why did you come, oh wait we know why? the all important attendance sheet.

The Over-prepared folks aka the Dr Sheldon Lee Coopers

These people I have grown to love,because listening to them is a joy,no stammers,no missing information,they throw in a story................I think they practiced everything the previous evening and when it is time to talk about way forward, you would think they are some text-book and most of them are the people who will put their phones away and listen to every one else.

The ones who come to settle fights/shame their 'enemies'

Sometimes there are those who come to shame their 'enemies', what I don't know is wether it is intentional or it is as a result of comments made by either of them but they sure make my heart laugh because I am weird weird person.

One fight I remember because it was so unexpected is there was this one time someone was giving updates for the agency they work for and they say something like and we are targeting 50 villages(which is a lot of villages) and this other person goes 'what do you mean 50 villages,you guys are targeting 10 households per village and then you come here and talk about 50 villages!!

The 'Field staff'

:-) :-)
There are these people who tend to think they are more 'field' than anyone else and 99% of the time they are the unprepared folk and so before saying 'I will tell the relevant person to send updates' they tell the story of village X, and normally their village of choice is a far to reach village that chances are nobody can argue with what they talk about and they say things like 'and then the village elder told me we are tired of all these white paper (questionnaires)', when will help come' or 'and the village elder said that he fears these shallow wells will turn into the grave of his community.

I will tell you why I think this is fiction(but I could be wrong),village elders are some of the most optimistic people you will meet.You ask them things like what will happen if the rains fail and they tell you we trust Allah's providence and these are people who have lost so much,so I figure them talking about shallow wells being graves can be a twisted truth but what do I know

The big boys

Who are the big-boys? you ask, I will tell how to identify them; they always have some item on, with their logos (caps,note-books,staff ID neck strap), if they are invited to a meeting,the meeting does not start before they arrive,good thing is they are relatively good time-keepers, a lot of people want to network with them and when they give their updates,no one even thinks to ask them questions like, what do you mean you drought response is planned to reach 500,000HHs because we all know they call the shots and can/will reach whatever big numbers they say.What they think of us and our small numbers is what I would love to know.And if they host a meeting they are snack and tea kings/queens 💪💪.

The Somali Nationalists 

They give their updates in Somali, speak Somali all through, woe unto the people who struggle with Somali if they are the meeting chair because they will chair the meeting in Somali and it's not that they can't speak English, they just prefer to speak their national language.These people I low-key do not like them.I however love love the education cluster lead because she is the best kind of nationalist, who was a teacher before the civil war and always tells this story about the day the civil war broke and she was in class teaching and how sad she is education as a sector is not considered life-saving, because of which, two generation of Somalis do not have an education.

The Talk early and talk often ones(Lean In)

In addition to note-taker I think I fall into this category. All the female at the work-place books I have read give one piece of advice consistently; during meetings, talk early and talk often and I am officially practicing what I have been reading but I am wise enough to know when to keep quite and listen.

I am thinking people are attending better and more fun meetings than the ones I go to,so what kind of attendees come for those meetings? I would love to know.