Nigerian Women and Their Struggles with Natural Hair

December 19, 2011  |  

It’s often a shock to many of my American friends who have never been to countries in Africa when they hear about African women getting relaxers or wearing weaves. Afterall, to them Africa is the motherland of everything natural and pure. A friend has even challenged my “Africanness” because I choose to relax my hair— Um, pretty shallow if you ask me since there’s more to being African than hair!

Believe it or not, African women do face similar struggles with natural hair as women in the diaspora mainly because they are uneducated about their hair. In Nigeria for instance, natural hair is associated with your economic status. The poorer you are, the more likely it is for you to have natural hair; or as it’s sometimes referred to, “village hair.”

“No rich man will marry a girl with village [unstraightened] hair,” declared Esther, 18, a rural migrant to the capital, Abuja. [full story here]

I was in Nigeria over the summer and I must say there is a lot of work to be done regarding the way natural hair is perceived over there. Every girl I saw was either weaved up, wigged up or braided up. However, I am optimistic as more educated individuals spread the word on the beauty of natural hair (natural hair meet up in Nigeria). I sense a revolution in the making and I like it!

What are your thoughts on this issue in Africa? Shocked? Saddened? Neutral?

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