By Faith Haushona-Kavamba
THE fight between women and their unruly hair has been raging on since time immemorial.
The goal is to tame these often feisty extensions of themselves and turn them into their crowns.
Urged by hair product manufacturers to chemically treat their natural hair (further perpetuating the notion that natural hair is undesirable), most women give up the fight and often resort to relaxing their natural hair or weaving in extensions of much softer hair that is easy to manage.
However, there has been a paradigm shift with more women leaning towards embracing their natural hair and this is made easier by natural hair expos where all women from different walks for life can come together and embrace their natural hair.
Keeping with this trend, the second annual Natural Hair and Beauty Expo Namibia will be held on September 10.
The brainchild of Sharon Kasanda-Emvula, Maliza Mukungu, Zodidi Gaseb, Patience Mukandi and Kumbi Short, the expo is aimed at to learning, celebrating and purchasing products to stimulate the growth of natural hair.
The brilliant minds behind the expo were specially equipped to spearhead the expo as they all work with natural hair individually.
“In Africa, Western concepts of beauty dominate our screens, our magazines and our billboards. Natural African hair has taken a back seat in the flooding of our media and has had a ripple effect in how we perceive beauty. The expo is an annual event that marks a very important shift in how African beauty is viewed, not only in Namibia but in Africa as a whole,” Short said, explaining the drive for their expo.
She added that in the past beauty standards were defined for African women, and this was further perpetuated by racial segregation where opportunities were reserved for those with straighter hair and lighter skin. In a bid to live up to these standards, women forgot how to care for their natural hair.
“We are starting to appreciate our hair and the wide range of skin tones we have. This is more than just a phase, it is an awakening to the natural beauty that we have been given. We can be so much more creative with our natural hair. When you think about it, an African woman is not limited to one hairstyle for the month. Even women with dreadlocks can be very creative with styling,” Short stressed.
The natural hair expo was a resounding success in its maiden year, so it was inevitable that it would become an annual event. Its success lies in that it focuses on creating bespoke products for African women.
While organising the event came with a few challenges, the organisers were not deterred as this year’s expo promises to be better than its predecessor.
“We will have discussions and debates about natural hair/natural hair care; our hair and beauty product vendors have more products than you could imagine; there will be performances from local artists; there will be a wide-range of food and snacks on sale and there will be a prize draw for hampers sponsored by our vendors. It really is a lovely family day out with plenty of space for children to play and for picnics,” Short noted.
The expo will also be a great opportunity for attendees to support local businesses as a majority of them manufacture their products locally.
Short said that she believes that the natural hair market is growing and there is room for more players across the entire natural hair and beauty value chain. This is especially because there are many product junkies who are willing to try out the latest thing on the market. Her only advice to the new players was that they should be honest about what they are marketing and not try to dupe people because lying never ends well.
“I wish I could narrow it down to just one thing that our guests will gain from the expo. I suppose if I were to list something vitally important it would be enlightenment. In other words, they would have received new and useful information with regards to natural hair care, and would therefore be bolder about embracing their God-given beauty,” she concluded.
Tickets for the expo are available at Computicket for N$150.00 and free of charge for children under 16. The expo will take place from 10h00 to 17h00 on September 10 at Eros Primary School.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015