Sibongile Mafu

Don't touch me on my hair

2013-06-12 13:04

Sibongile Mafu

It was bound to happen. Inevitable, really. I'm a black woman; the hair issue is about as unavoidable as a swimming cap on the head of relaxed hair.

"Can I touch it?" they ask. "You're like Zahara," they say. They appear to ask for permission for their hands to venture in but it's not a request, but courteous a warning that they're going in there, because guess what? By the time they ask, their hand or God forbid, hands are already in your hair when the question is being posed.

Black hair is a tourist attraction and it still astounds me that white folk still find it to be as fascinating as it is. Not even fascinating, mesmerising.

The eighth world wonder that is black women's hair is a topic that has both exhausted and tested me over the years. Whether it's exposed or covered up, there will be comments, questions and suggestions from the floor. If, alongside the Big Five, we were allowed to have a bonus attraction, black women's hair would be it. From afros to dreadlocks to braids to weaves many have tried to understand it, poke and prod at it, as if the meaning of life is hidden in it or in the case of a bald black woman, over it.

I currently have an unruly, albeit proud afro that kind of has a pulse of its own. I often allow it to do as it pleases, like a stubborn teenager.

When I was little my mother used to take me to hair salons to "tame" my natural hair by getting the stylist to relax it, which is the process whereby the hair is chemically treated in order to make it straight and easier to manage. To literally relax your hair - make it less tense, rigid, or firm. To make it behave.

This became part of my routine and because I knew no other way of being, it became a routine I carried into my teenage years.  I'd see my hair fall out over time and the stylist telling me reassuringly, "don’t worry, it will grow back". She'd warn me to keep it away from moisture of any kind but to always remember to moisturise it. This conflicting advice obviously confused me but I did as I was told. She didn't tell me however that not only would I have to protect my hair from the harsh elements but also from the hands of curious strangers and their fidgety hands. There's no hair protector in the market for that, unfortunately.

It's not so much the fascination that amuses and annoys, but rather the constant surprise white folk get even though they've seen this kind of hair before. It's incredible really. Like watching the same movie, and expecting a different ending. Yep, the texture is really like that. Yes, that is our hair. Yes, when it touches water it recoils.

I recently read of a bizarre phenomenon where human beings are now stealing the dreadlocks off the heads of other human beings. Earlier this year a man was robbed of his dreadlocks at a nightclub in Johannesburg. The victim's friends found him passed out with his head shaven. He still had all his valuables in his possession except his crowning glory.

There's a growing demand in the industry for 100% human hair dreadlocks that leaves many people vulnerable. The police have encouraged victims to come forward and report the theft of their hair and open cases of assault.

Can the same be done for those who touch without permission?

- Sibongile is a videographer, blogger and social media enthusiast who would be nothing without her thumbs. Follow her on Twitter: @SboshMafu.

Send your comments to Sibongile

Disclaimer:
News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24
.

- News24

NEXT ON NEWS24X

The testimony that sunk him

2014-04-18 07:00

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
39 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Grabouw - 11:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowrys Pass and Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9790

Bold Design The BlackBerry Bold 9790 smartphone combines the iconic BlackBerry...

From R2979.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.