Hair has always been a big deal in Africa. In some cultures like that of the Dinka tribe, they use butter to protect their hairs from the sun. Our hair is part of what tells our story. The typical African hair is characterized by the curly or nappy texture.
We were taught by the Westerners to hate the texture of our hair which led most Africans to use heat or chemicals to straighten their hair; fortunately, more Africans are beginning to see the uniqueness of our curls.
To maintain the typical African hair, there has to be an amount of effort. African hair is intentionality. This is why we invented protective hairstyles like the braids, dreads and the cornrows.
Our hair is of great significance to us that during the time of slave trades, some hairstyles were used as maps to guide escapees through the road to freedom. We have had to spend more time washing and moisturizing.
Even though we complain about the shrinkage due to the curly texture of our hair, one of the speakers during the afro hair culture taught the people in attendance that the shrinkage depicts a healthy hair.
The search for the best products for our hair has led some Africans to research on products and ingredients that could help give nutrients to our hair.
So many African owned hair brands are sprouting and some of them displayed their products during the Afro hair culture festival.
One of them is Fatima Aliyu. Fatima Aliyu founded “Hair Girl” in 2022 after years of extensive research. She had started researching in 2017 but got her inspiration to open a hair care brand in 2018. During an interview with Afrisquare, she was asked what her motivation to open her own hair care brand was, to which she replied “my hair”. She went ahead to explain that her products depict simplicity made out of passion; to her less is more.
She uses natural and plant based ingredients for her products and they are suitable for all kinds of hair. Her products help alleviate hair problems like breakage, dandruff and alopecia and the cost as low as 2000 naira.
According to Precious Zoey who was in charge of the volunteers of the festival, one of the aims of this festival is to make Africans understand the economic value of their products; to empower both men and women.
Albeit, this festival did not only try to inspire entrepreneurship on hair products; it promoted other African entrepreneurs and gave them the opportunity to display their handwork. During the festival, some other entrepreneurs were present to advertise their products; there were a few with lip care products, caterers and even fashion designers.
We had the privilege to interview one of the creative fashion designers, Rose Philip Unimi. Rose Philip designs ready to wear and bespoke brands and hand bags for women and children. She started “Najeel Designs” in April 2020. When asked what her inspiration was, she said she admired simplicity and wanted to create that for other people. She said “my brand is simple, yet elegant and sophisticated”. The brand promotes decency. She wants her clients to be covered and look chic.
Africans are always known to be creative and this event encourages that creativity while teaching us how to be intentional.
This event has been held every year since 2016, in June and in December. They organize virtual shows, mini conferences, seminars in schools and organizations and they also have partners outside of Nigeria.
For now this festival is only hosted in Nigeria although there are plans to extend this to other African countries.