Shea Butter Gang. That’s the name most Kenyan guys on Twitter call women who rock their natural hair. Natural hair has become such a force to reckon with, to a point where Nairobi is one of the top leading cities with women who proudly rock their natural hair. It’s so amazing to walk around the streets of Nairobi and see women embracing their natural hair and walking proudly showcasing all their kinks and curls. Natural hair has come along a way, from the misconstrued perception we grew up believing that our natural hair was too wild, too tough, too untidy to show off in public; hiding it in braids and suffering in between women’s legs as they did cornrows on our hair, the dreaded hot comb to keep our hair sleek and the Kenyan version of a Brazilian blowout that involved Valon, water and a whole lot of smoke to make our hair straight like it had a perm. Then came the relaxers, and we all embraced them and growth became our worst enemy. We got so used to the easy maintenance that came with permed hair and the sleek, shiny tresses after a retouch that we forgot how to take care of our natural hair. We forgot how to love our natural hair, how to rock it with pride!
Fast forward to a few years ago, we discovered vlogs and Youtube, Naptural85 and her blog became our Holy Grail, we started doing research on how to go back to being natural. Shea Butter became our Mecca, our natural hair became more manageable, and slowly we realized our hair would curl without us having that mixed race, Ethiopian kind of hair.
Closed groups on Facebook were formed; women had a forum, a sisterhood to share all their experiences, the negative responses they received, self-esteem issues they had to overcome because of their hair. We realized that a woman’s hair is her crown and sometimes change is not as easy as it seems despite trying to convince ourselves and sing along to India Aries’ song; I am not my hair. Meetups and events for natural hair became a regular affair; the sisterhood grew and with it came recognition from outside.
Celebrity hair stylists in other parts of the world were excited to see that women in Africa have embraced their natural hair and that they wore it proudly. One of them was Felicia Leatherwood; for many naturals this was an amazing opportunity to get schooled on how to care of their hair, the right products to use, and the correct methods to adhere to when it came to showing our natural hair some love. On November 14th Natural hair beauties in Nairobi met for a weekend hair forum to discuss on everything natural and for natural hair stylists to correctly learn how to handle natural hair without being so rough with it, thanks to celebrity hair stylist Felicia Leatherwood.
I could go on and on about what we talked about, but I will let the hair photos speak for themselves. The “Shea Butter Gang” is slowly taking over; it’s heartwarming to walk around seeing so many women loving their kinks and curls without hiding it under braids or weaves!