Bontle Malaika: My hair, my identity


Afro-hair

My hues and my textures differ depending on my feelings. My curl is more defined when I’m wet. Some want and love me, while others try by all means to hide me from the world. I go by the name ‘Afro’. I am the texture hair on a black girl’s head.

Couldn’t have been on Becky’s head. Becky has long straight hair with a class one texture. My class texture is beyond that and so it was never good enough.

My curls become an ‘unleashed beast’ when I’m let free and I’m not conforming. They are compared to wool ,seen as an object of filth. A bush to the others —proving my owners’ savage uncivilized ways.

My hair uncomfortable to many

Hair

 

I’ve been manipulated to fit in multiple times. Butter knives have been used to straighten me to be in line with the ‘masters’ expectations. DIY hot combs have been introduced so the fire in me would die down down.

I was never pleasing no matter how hard I tried. The world succeeded in convincing my owners that I was not worthy of love. It found a way to judge me when I was straightened , short , or simply didn’t exist.My protective /braided self —an art perfected by my owners when they still had affection towards me —was not treated any better.

The judging hasn’t always been negative I must admit. Sometime I receive compliments that go hand-in-hand with a pat.

These arrive with good intentions but both my owner and I experience a sort of discomfort with them. The history behind them is one that objectifies and strips her of her humanness.

Hers and my rights often went unrecognized.

We often went unrecognized.

Hair I’ve longed for a time in my world when all and not just some of my owners would care for me and realize just how much the feeling is reciprocated from my side.

A time when they would allow me to rightfully and gracefully place myself

on their heads and make them reign over themselves like queens they are.

The queens chosen by God to communicate to Him through my contact with the skies. An importance that had been placed on my existence but taken away with coming in of the new age perfection which was straight.

More often than not, I’m given hope that my world is yet to be refined and that my owners will soon realise that they carry the universe on their heads where my coils and curls are the stars that are open to them to transverse.