Those who know me will Know that I first relaxed my hair when I was 18. It was a short lived stint and my friends constantly made comments like ‘I prefer your ethnic look’. ‘Ethnic’ meaning braids (because that is what they were used to seeing me wearing). The rebel within me said I’ll show them ethnic. I hated being defined by people. I hated people thinking they knew me and boxing me in with their ideas of who I was. It did not matter if I was the one who had previously created the box. You see prior to my relaxed hair I had strongly boasted about my Afro I was proud to be African during times when it was certainly not cool to be African. Furthermore I was proud to be the only Zambian. I made an effort to stand out with my multicolored braids and blatant refusal to wear what every one else wore. The girls wore skirts, I wore trousers. The girls wore trousers I wore skirts. They wore hoodies, I wore wrap around cardigans, they wore Nike Airs, I wore Converses…And so it went for the whole of secondary school and some of University.
So what does this story have to do with anything…The tale of fashion goes – everything comes back round. The once unpopular Afro is now in fashion once again. You go into hair shops and a new section has been created for those ‘transitioning’. You have things like ‘TC’ and ‘TWA’ being thrown into the mix. People are youtubing and blogging about their hair types. It is all really exciting if I am honest. It feels good to go online and now be able to find out about my hair. To hear and share stories about hair miracles and hair disasters. However I feel my teen rebellion self rising as I question if I really want to have my Afro now that everyone has theirs. I recently dyed my hair bronze (and am loving it) but I cannot help but feel a little uneasy about the Afro as the new ‘trend’.
So why feel uncomfortable with black natural hair types getting the attention and celebration? Because trends pass. What is the problem with the Afro hair trend passing? Black people will still forever and always have Afro hair. You see it is fine for clothes trends to peek and drop because we are not born with clothes, we can always decide what we want to wear. With hair it is not that simple. Whether you are aware or not, the Afro has a strong social and cultural history. It is a beautiful history telling the story of a people who have over come a lot. The Afro is also a defining feature in many young women’s coming of age stories. The story of getting their hair straightened in order to fit in and feel more beautiful is not uncommon. The significance of the Afro means that we ought to take it a little more seriously. It is great to celebrate the fullness and versatility of Afro hair now but what happens when its not fashionable anymore?
It has been the longest time!!
It’s a bit late for a New Year blog but this is when I knew it was right to start writing again.
For those of you who are regular readers – thanks for coming back! If you are new to my blog – welcome! Since December I had taken a step back to review my life: relationships, commitments, hobbies, everything in-between. Aside from December being the last month of the year and seemingly a fitting time to conduct such reviews, I actually went into this mode unconsciously following the deaths of a quite few people close to me in different ways. May they Rest In Peace.
The loss left me feeling over and underwhelmed all at the same time. There is nothing like death to put life in perspective, right. Although it had been a great year I had stepped into territories I had envisioned (well not so soon anyway!) I found that I naturally withdrew and wanted to make sense of all the conflicting emotions I had. Now writing is an outlet for me but I never write for public eyes when overwhelmed with a sense of confusion. I strongly believe in the power of words and do not think it is right to pour out our own sour drivel into others’ lives simply because we can. I want everything I put out in public to have a moral, a message to spread a little light. Let’s face it – there’s clearly enough rubbish, darkness and negativity out there.
So…how did I overcome and pass through my withdrawal – with God. I am a Christian. I am a believer in the living God – Father of Jesus – Jesus being the only Saviour of humankind. Amidst the confusion and sifting process I was going through – the Word of God (The Bible) was my filter. Although I felt alien to myself I knew it was only a season because ‘To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under the sun’ – Ecclesiastes 3.1.
No doubt this season has been very uncomfortable. I have experienced doubt and sadness but even in that my heart has been filled with an inexplicable joy. I could feel that God was doing something in me that needed to be done. I prayed that God would refine me and refine my life. I asked Him to remove anything that should not have a connection with me. I prayed that God would open my spiritual eyes and help me to see the world, people, myself the way He saw things so that I could move in tune with how He wants me to move.
You see it is so easy to get caught up in our own agenda and own flurry of emotions. Even worse the way of thinking in society today says we have a right to feel anything and live as animals do – controlled by every worthless passion and emotion. However I know that God did not create us to live like that. So to stop my withdrawal turning into something more sinister I leaned on the One worth leaning on – God.
How are you starting the year?…
Welcome back Nissi!
I am in the process of writing me second book. My debut was a collection of poetry very much written for myself. I had to release it to reach a me I knew existed but was scared to show people. I released the book to prove a point to myself – the point that I could do anything, I had to be scared of no – one, my need for God, my obsession with love and many other small and huge things that I had struggled to understand. Releasing the book was symbolic of a release taking place deeper inside me.
I had promised myself never to get stuck in a rut. I did not want to conform and only wanted to be involved in anything that was on the track I believed God had set out for me. I wanted to be on the road less traveled and break convention and set records and my first book was me taking an incy wincy step down that road. Now I know I am ready to take on a different type of content and write for completely different reasons to why I began writing in the first place. I originally wrote to connect to myself. Now I am happy that I know myself enough and want to encourage others to get to a deeper level of intimacy and self-revelation. It is an exciting journey…
I attended a very interesting talk today about the rise of African inspired fashion and African prints. The world is being introduced to the beauty and variety of African prints in an amazing way. The panel comprised African designers, an online store owner who sells African products and an editor of the magazine ARISE which celebrates and is a great platform for African fashion. The talk opened my mind and introduced me to a range of conversations surrounding fashion from the African diaspora. For example: do Africans only wait for the West to repackage their fashion before they buy it? Should we celebrate African prints or move to appreciating ‘a pattern’? If a print is African inspired but printed and profits distributed outside the continent – is it really African? I left the talk feeling beautifully exposed. It is easy to take the African fashion hype for granted but there is a huge undercurrent. I personally believe the story behind the fabrics should be told and therefore claimed as African. A part of the supply chain should include Africa and Africans should get economic value from the production. Lastly African designers need to set a standard and African communities should support their creatives. For any industry to grow there needs to be support on all levels. I am also so pleased to have met Helen Jennings and got a signed copy of her book ‘New African Fashion’.
I recently started visiting my local library a lot. I am at the library roughly 3 times a week and it never ceases to amaze me at how excited I get being around all the different books. Since a very young age I have loved reading and being around books. I would spend hours in book stores going over several blurbs and analysing book covers to decide what book to buy. I often resented only having a certain amount of money which meant I could not buy all the books I wanted. Eventually I made the crucial decision about what book to read based on what I was going through in life. For example if I wanted to escape because I had the stress of exams and life, I would pick a sci fi book, or periodic drama. I loved being transported to a different time and space. If I had undergone some trauma such as heartbreak or a nasty argument with a friend, I would read a crime or war story where something worse than my present situation takes place. The comparison would put my life in perspective and help me calm down to move on.
Into adulthood books have continued to be my solace. Whenever I want to runaway, I read. The only difference I see in my adult years is that I do not run to fiction all the time. If I have money problems I will invest in a financial book so that I can learn and hopefully not find myself in the same situation again.
I love that books come in all different forms, tones and specialism. It means that you can find a book to speak to your current situation – whatever it may be.
What makes you choose a book to read?
Lessons we learn from painful pasts
Threaten to make us shatter like glass
And pierce holes in our souls
That if left to gape will tear us from the inside out.
Like crystals freshly cut
With points that draw outlines
On an earth where everyone is sharp
We are precious but unknown unless someone tells us so.
Water dripping clear through air
Ending the bitterness by nourishing
The dry earth trampled by years of trying to live.
The publishing industry is changing at an astonishing rate. There are so many factors that can influence the way a book takes off in the market. Have you got any interesting stories or articles you have come across about bestsellers?
Let me know.