Reclaiming My Crown

#reclaimyourcrown ….Question is do you know exactly what you are reclaiming? Part of knowing and understanding our hair is the knowledge passed down to us by our parents and grandparents on traditional hair practices. Do you know how your great grand parents and the generation before them used to maintain their hair? I am a kikuyu from central Kenya and when we talk about eradication of cultural practices we should be on the top list for the most “westernized”. Growing up my grandparents used to have their head covered in head scarfs and their ears had been sewn back by the white doctors so they could no longer hang their hang’í (the round ornaments used to hung on the years by kikuyu women). My grandmother would tell us of how they would clean shave their heads using a rweji (razor) and although my grandmother had nice soft hair with a loose curl pattern she never wore her hair out. She always had her scarfs and under the scarf she had braids or cornrows and she never let her hair get long.With my mother the earliest I remember is her spotting a cropped cut and if I do remember correctly it was always chemically processed to a curl kit. In between she would braid with extensions and later on she switched from from curls to straight hair she would switch up her perm with weaves and her hair was doing okay until she shaved. So currently she has a natural TWA which she uses black shampoo and a gel to maintain. Her hair is thick and also has a loose curl pattern.Then there is me. I have had my hair short most of my life. I have gone through the stage of experimention with weaves, wigs, braids,relaxers and colours until five years ago when I stumbled upon the natural hair community. Part of me understanding my hair is researching alot about African hair and traditional hair practices. Traditionally the kikuyu women did not grow out their hair. Girls and older women used to have their hair clean shaven. Young mothers would clean shave all around their head leaving a small island of short hair in the middle. It was young men who used grow hair and it was mostly locked. Young men would work at growing their hair long till it fell on their backs so that they could proudly sway it at dances. Boys were not allowed to grow out their hair and the young men shaved their long hair soon after becoming fathers.Women in many other tribes in Kenya like the maasai and the akamba did not grow out their hair but their young men did.From my research I can say that growing long hair for me is a foreign concept which I am still adapting to. I am in a generation where women are the ones growing long hair but most lack the know how of growing healthy hair. Hair has been categorized to good and bad hair just because of lack of knowledge.African hair does grow and our mau mau fighters are proof of it. They were stuck in forest,fighting for our freedom, with no fancy hair products and they came out with locks of hair falling down their backs. During my research I came across field marshal Muthoni wa Karima’s picture and she had locks falling down to her waist. Our hair can grow long with proper hair practices, we can embrace our hair at whatever stage whether short or long and feel beautiful without having to spend exorbitant  amount of money on indian or Brazilian hair. Reclaiming my crown for me doesn’t mean going back to clean shaving my head, been there done that, it means holding my head of healthy hair up high. Appreciating it’s coils and texture and proudly representing brown haired 4c sisters who are often accused of being malnutritioned.