As at the time I went natural, I hadn’t noticed Chimamanda’s hair.I had just retured from NYSC. Now, all through Youth Service and University, I didn’t have access to TV and whenever I returned home for the short holidays, rather than watch TV stations where I would have got a glimpse or such information about her, I would binge on all the movies I missed while away.
It may also come as a surprise but I never read any of her books till after I had my hair cut. I had named her as my role model in my final year year book, not because of her books or her looks but because she was postively popular and that I wanted to be.
Chika Unigwe and Nnedi Okoroafor, I came to know even much later.
When I went natural, the only naturals I had noticed were mostly deeper life women and the state of their ‘naturalness’ left nothing to be desired.
My grandmother was my push. I had never seen my grandma’s real hair because it was always threaded. She would go to the saloon in Oye Neni, there they will loose the old one, wash it and make a new one, so that she always returned home with the same hairstyle, the skin of her forehead stretched taut against her skull and shiny, the only testament to a new hairdo.
Then she became ill and couldn’t make her weekly trips to Oye Neni. My cousin and I had returned to spend the short break from school with her and my cousin offered to thread her hair. The mass of coily, black, wool, when set free from the thin thread which bound them was unbelievable. Her hair was just too much, nothing I had ever seen on a Nigerian woman’s head could compare.
Yet, that wasn’t her full length. Each strand of hair lengthened as she threaded. That day I truly believed that relaxer is indeed a chemical and does more harm than good to our hair. I decided that as soon as I could, I would start afresh.
Feminism is also not the reason. I do not like being dictated to. Being associated with a certain movement or school of thought places people in a box which expects them to act by the precepts of that movement and gets you criticized once you deviate. I cherish my freedom. I like being able to do what I want and change my mind when I want to.
Some believe as a true ‘naturalista’ you can’t have weaves and other attachments. Not me. I eat my cake and have it when I can and with my natural hair, I can.
So when next you see me sporting my afro, can you just stop with the “Chimamada protegé” please? You can call me “Nwanyimaluogo protegé” though, I won’t mind at all 🙂