My Natural Hair Journey

I’ve always been different from others even as a child, and I hated it. I wanted so badly to be like others. Talk like others, walk like others, look like others, smile like others and even plait my hair like others. But no, village people will not let me shine. Being different wasn’t exactly fun for a child in the 90’s. Unlike now when everybody carry inclusivity for head. Back then, being different meant you weren’t fit for society: an oddity, a sell-out, an abomination. That’s how insecure I was about my hair. No one understood my hair, not my hairdresser, not my barber, not my mum, not even me.

I remember when my mum made me wear a low cut for Christams, with an artificial flower collecting real estate on my head, while my sisters had theirs beautifully braided. Wo, ain’t nothing merry about that Christmas because Jesus wept with reckless abandonment. Me and my artificial flower be looking like face-me-I-face-you neighbours forced against their will to live together. Hair meant a lot to me back then, still does. In fact, there’s no important story in my life without hair in it. If you see me looking sad in any family picture, that has to be the reason.

Okay, here’s a little profile about my hair.

It was not the typical African hair, it sits somewhere between silk, wool, rubber and hair. When cut, it looked liked a toddler’s leftover and grew back into a big fluffy afro in less than a month. So I got into trouble a lot in school for always having “bushy” hair. When plaited, it came undone and rough so fast, and after two days of getting it plaited, it looked like I’d been carrying the hair for two years. Plaiting it wasn’t value for money, so my mum made me stop. And that’s how she became my self appointed barber. Haaaa, my life!

But no sacrifice was too much to get my hair done. I didn’t mind the rancid odour coming from my Mama Nkiru’s “yonder” where she shoved our heads while plaiting. Her yanking my head in different direction could have easily been my favourite sport. Neither my burning scalp nor the bumps lining my hairlines – like frontline solders after plaiting my hair too tight – bothered me. I didn’t even mind losing my endangered edges to that experience. Is it your edges? Heck, she can continue cursing under her breath while trying to manage my oh so soft and slippery hair, shebi she will sha finish making my hair.

My sisters inherited my father’s thick 4c hair, the type that made combing a gruesome experience. Mine on the other hand has a little complicated history. I inherited my maternal grandmother’s hair, her curls and texture, but my edges was a late bloomer; a product of some genetic misunderstanding cos when they started growing they almost encroached into my eyebrows.

I looked at my sisters’ 4c hair and wished we could trade hairs. It didn’t matter what beautiful curls I had, or its smooth relationship with comb; or how caucasian it looked when oiled wet. I just wanted a hard head of hair, the type Mama Nkiru would approve.

Looking back now, I feel like cutting branch for my younger self, because quitting relaxer, artificial hair products, hot instruments and wanting to be like others is the best hair decision I’ve ever made. My hair is now thicker and fuller; I’ve long lost the curls tho (another genetic joke), and gained edges instead. I still don’t braid my hair because…village people. Guess I can forgive my mum, now I’m the one paying for it. Through it all, I’m grateful for the journey of self awareness and a healthy consciousness of my person and my hair.

So, you have it, my natural hair story. Next week, I’ll be bursting some natural hair myths and share some of my natural hair rituals. Till I come your way next time, I remain your go-to-girl for natural hair tips.

So, what did you like or hate about your natural hair growing up? Drop your comments below, let’s have a family meeting.

Post Author: Arinola Ogunniyi

I tell simple everyday stories we take for granted in ways you wouldn't have imagined them. From dated stories, myths, reviews, "street-lores" to topical issues, these mind bending series will leave you begging for more. And if you trip over my sentence structures, it's part of the experience. You can call me the Last Story Bender. I mastered the rules of language to break them.

21 thoughts on “My Natural Hair Journey

    Olu

    (May 22, 2020 - 11:59 am)

    🌶🌶🙌👏
    Brilliant stuff! What an interesting hair journey for you. Unfortunately I’m bald so I will just respect self inside this family meeting 😂

      Arinola Ogunniyi

      (May 22, 2020 - 12:10 pm)

      Hahahahahahahahaha sorry to hear that, Olu. Wish I had an elixir to restore the lost glory just so you can participate in this family meeting.

      You can take that seat at the back. Rest assured the small chops will reach you. Tenkio.

        Olu

        (May 22, 2020 - 12:13 pm)

        Lol. I can’t shout

          dhayous

          (May 23, 2020 - 7:31 am)

          LOL. Lucky you Arinola! Soft hair is bae.

          My hair experience while growing was about extensive waiting-times for my stubborn hair to be “relaxed”. I’ve recently grown tired and stopped all chemical products but I still don’t think I have strength for team natural, because this hair has refused to be tamed.

            Arinola Ogunniyi

            (May 25, 2020 - 11:26 pm)

            Wowww. So how do you intend to manage the hair. Have you considered locking it. I locked mine just last week. I’m waiting for the locks to form… but soft hair.

        Olu

        (May 22, 2020 - 12:15 pm)

        No wahala. So far small chops go reach my end. Lol

    Pearl

    (May 22, 2020 - 12:37 pm)

    Lmao.. Let us trade hairs o. Saturdays were my worst nightmare. Is like all of us had a Mama Nkiru in our lives. Mine was called Aunty Tawa. Aunty Tawa’s yonder use to smell like rotten tomatoes laced with otapiapia. My cheeks still hurt from the hot slap I received from her hand because my head will not stop turning at every sight. If you see Aunty Tawa, tell her she will not know peace where she is.

      Arinola Ogunniyi

      (May 25, 2020 - 11:28 pm)

      Abeg give me Aunty Tawa’s handle let me tag her. If e have many this in this family meeting, honezlay!!!

    Onome Onwah

    (May 22, 2020 - 12:46 pm)

    I was reading this with hot indomie and I started laughing with all these descriptions… Good write up! I have used 14different relaxers to get to the chosen one because natural was like death sentence. Combs died in my hair but if it had not been the Lord on my side…

      Arinola Ogunniyi

      (May 22, 2020 - 3:04 pm)

      The hustle is real o my sister. I also had issues finding the right type of relaxer. As soft as my hair was, no relaxer could relax it. Can you even believe that? My hair was simply not African, simple. Someone recommended Venus relaxer and that was what I stuck too for years. Let me not even go to the horror and chemical burns I sustained.

      Every month was torture. I used to cool the relaxer in our freezer two days ahead just to slow down the burning process, still kpa kpa yet, is cry I will still cry at the salon. Until one day, mercy said “NO”… hence my natural hair journey. My best hair decision ever.

    Bookiemonsterr

    (May 22, 2020 - 2:39 pm)

    We all had a version of Mama Nkiru growing up. Mine was Aunty Ann. My mum never had sisters so she was obsessed with me and my sisters’ hair. That’s why when I somehow grew ringworm in the middle of my scalp, she was so reluctant to shave off my hair that she took to styling it up differently to cover the ringworm until my father put his foot down and made her take me for a haircut. I think that haircut hurt her more than it did me. The only hair that gave her problems was my youngest sister’s, some people were not destined to have hair (my youngest sister is some people) and now my baby boy is following in her footsteps, same hair colour and everything.

      Arinola Ogunniyi

      (May 22, 2020 - 2:57 pm)

      This one cracked me up no be small. “My youngest sister is some people” kwwkawkwakwakwakwa…

      Shebi ringworm is better. I remembered when my sister and I had lice, no thanks to my mum’s maids. That one is story for another, because it ended in premium tears for us. My grandma took no prisoners.

    Mercy Oguntade

    (May 22, 2020 - 6:02 pm)

    I think I’ve been somewhat fortunate with hair. For a while now, I’ve been natural (as we naturalistas usually refer to our hair state and mind you, the ‘-ista’ too is another creation of ours.) This explanation is for outsiders who are peeping on our meeting though!
    Now that I’m natural, my hair is still soft as in my relaxed days. I don’t know if I should refer to my hair type as 4c but, it doesn’t have the texture you described your hair as having, however, my hair is soft and easy to manage. If I should pour water Lai diz, my hair will just be obeying my command any how! And it looks Nigerian too.
    When I was relaxed, I could stay so many months without relaxer and yet, I would easily manage both textures – the new undergrowth and the relaxed length.
    Ever since my natural hair journey began, I noticed that my “root hairs” – undergrowth – are super curly. The curls are tight and juicy even without oil/butter/leave-in conditioner in my hair. But you see the rest of the length, they usually look half straight and half ‘Virgin’. Again my pipu, I know you understand this ‘Virgin’ slang!
    .
    That’s all for now about my natural hair experience o!

      Arinola Ogunniyi

      (May 22, 2020 - 6:15 pm)

      Thanks dear for the glossary for those eavesdropping and “eyesdropping” on our meeting. It’s girls like you I envied growing up. Mine too is easy to manage, but I must oil immediately after a wash, if not you will not believe what you’ll see.

    Tinuola

    (May 22, 2020 - 6:31 pm)

    Can I ever forget how badly I much to cut my hair like my brothers. You could almost count all the strands of hair on my head, but for some weird reasons my mum held tightly to those strands, she won’t let go. It’s because of her I took to low cut. Abeg I can’t come and die. Is this one life somebody has biko.

    Fruity Candy

    (May 22, 2020 - 6:36 pm)

    Me, all I have are curves and no edges…no thanks to Mama Koyin. When I see people laying their edges I bleed all over again. My mummy didn’t try abeg, I would have been happy if she cut mine. There’s no hair product I’ve not tried to restore my edges, but no dice.

      Arinola Ogunniyi

      (May 22, 2020 - 6:47 pm)

      Oh my God o, at least you have edges. My sister count your blessings o. Don’t be an ingrate. Lmaoooooo

    Dada lover

    (May 22, 2020 - 6:37 pm)

    My life is easier now I’m on dreads. I don’t know what y’all talking about abeg.

      Arinola Ogunniyi

      (May 22, 2020 - 6:48 pm)

      And I just joined the league last week. Make way for the latest bread head in town.

    morenike laja

    (May 22, 2020 - 6:41 pm)

    Arinolaaaaaaaaaa… You will not wound me o.

    Yes, I remember Mama Nkiru she took no prisoners.

    Thank God we made it out alive.

      Arinola Ogunniyi

      (May 22, 2020 - 6:55 pm)

      Morenike, you people suffered at her hand no be small. You are the MVP. Lol

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