Are we ashamed of our identity?

2010-10-02 15:30

Following a protracted struggle for freedom, in the era of African renaissance, transformation and retracing of our suppressed and lost identity, why are some black people dumping their natural hair?

This is more the case with black women, who are the majority in South Africa.

They are trying to look like Asian and white women by wearing long artificial hair and wigs?

This is contrasted by a very small number, if any, of Asian and white women who want to have hair like black ­women.

Some black people even sport long blonde hair.

What really motivates these hairstyles?

What is the difference ­between these hairstyles and the mentality which motivated the misguided and colonially ­inspired use of abominable skin lighteners in the 70s and 80s?

People argue that they have a choice and can afford to do all sorts of things with their African hair.

Granted, but I think this choice has to be exercised and informed by available hairstyle options which retain the essence of who we are as ­Africans and an understanding of our terrible apartheid ­history.

This choice has to be ­informed by the humiliating practice of the “pencil test”, used to determine if a person was black or ­coloured.

Did we struggle for some people to consciously or ­unconsciously ridicule our rich African identity?

Does freedom mean always having to conform to the practices of other people?

We cannot talk big about ­being African when we cannot deal with basic things which are within our control, like our attitude to our natural ­attributes.

Issues such as health, ­education, fighting crime and corruption, rural development, creating decent work and ­poverty eradication are important and should be ­addressed.

But we cannot do so ­outside the context of ­understanding who we are and our background as ­Africans.

As heritage month passes, we should ask whether we are ashamed of our identity.

Being African is an ­important aspect of building a non-racial South Africa.

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