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When Are Black Africans Who Complain About Colonialism Going to Stop Shaving Their Daughters Bald, Then Buying Fake Hair?

Why are they still practicing this old colonial rule any way?

By IwriteMywrongsPublished 4 months ago 4 min read
Photo Created in CANVA

Monday, 1 January 2024

By: TB Obwoge

Some people actually believe that Black African women, can't grow their hair, they honestly believe that it's in their DNA to not grow hair our their heads. I know so many Africans that would be angry about this, however people outside of a African countries wonder why Black African women and girls often have very short hair cuts.

My first trip to Kenya, I asked my husband, who's a Kenyan who has never even left his country. He told me that Kenyan women are bald headed and can't grow their own hair, he is 1 of 4 siblings all male, except for his sister.

I can't believe that I had to do my own research to find out that there was an old colonial rule which made girls have to shave their hair off in order to attend British schools. After asking several African parents, why do all the girls have to shave their hair off to attend school, I have heard some of the weirdest reasons because these parents, had no idea why.

One mother of four children, 3 boys and a girl, who also had a very short hair cut, told me that girls would always be late to school if they had to do their hair. This was a Ghanian mother, where they beat children with a cane in schools, why would a girl having hair on her head make her late?

This would mean that all western born and raised Black girls would be late for school everyday. How is having braided hair going to make a girl late, all questions that her answer made me think about.

Another 6 parents said that girls having hair would distract the boys, this was the most infuriating answer yet. So, according to them, girls should be bald, with most looking like little boys, in order to keep boys from being distracted in schools.

This isn't the rule in every country in Africa, however this teaches little girls from birth that they have to change themselves in order to make others feel better. Girls have to shrink themselves, in order for boys to get a better education.

Author's Photo Accra, Ghana

Though this article is about Kenya, this same hair policy is in several other African countries for the same reason as well.

The racist legacy of Kenyan schools' short hair policies

A crucial part of protesting these “no-hair” rules, however, is that these policies are the legacy of colonialism and, as such, still perpetuate racism. In precolonial times, Christian missionaries demanded that girls who attended their mission schools cut their hair to their scalp, as they believed that black hair was “unsightly, ungodly, and unatemable.” Beyond their students, missionaries also forbade all African women who attended their churches from wearing any artistic hairstyles, even though African women did so for many different reasons, including signifying their age, class, and rank in their community. Based on their racist beliefs that all African men were uncontrollable beasts, missionaries also believed that African girls would be less desirable to African men with short hair.

The legacy of colonialism and racism is entrenched in many African schools, even those that allow students to wear their hair long. For instance, my alma mater required students to hold our hair up in “push-back ponytails.” This policy dated back to pre-independence when the school was segregated and catered only to British (and white) girls. The school now caters to mostly black Kenyan girls, whose natural hair does not really “push-back” as a result of its kinkiness. Protective hairstyles such as braids and twists were forbidden, though, which made many of us resort to chemically treating our hair, as doing so was the only way we could meet the school’s standards. These conditions made it hard for us to grow and take care of healthy natural hair.

The impact of these policies on students’ perceptions of black hair is ultimately quite harmful. They effectively underestimate Kenyan school girls’ intelligence to the point that something as ordinary as taking care of their own hair is seen as a task that they cannot handle without being distracted from their school work. In what other continent are students told that taking care of their own hair is a misplaced priority, or that it has any bearing on their education at all?

Source: WomensMediaCenter

Continuing this practice, will continue to make people think that Black African women can't grow their hair, it's also allowing fake hair imported products to flood African countries.

Below you can see how much money women in Ghana spent in 2020 on fake hair because of the constant shaving of girls hair. If you shave a girls hair bald, sometimes it's done from birth, until she out of senior high school, it can beome very difficult to grow hair after almost 2 decades of shaving it off.

Screenshot from Social Media

This continues to enforce colonialism, because who are the people making money off of fake hair?

The largest exporter in the world of human extension hair is Hong Kong with 51.9% of the market. India is a close second with 32.5%. That means there is a good chance that the extensions you are buying will be from one of these two countries. If you are buying Remy Hair then it is guaranteed to be of Asian origins.

Source: Glamour Locks

Thank you for reading 🙏🏽 Please consider buying a coffee for Lacey’s House efforts in Gender Equality & Children’s Rights as it tries to move international.

©️TB Obwoge 2024 All Rights Reserved

gender rolespoliticshistorybodyactivism

About the Creator


I'm the president of a nonprofit. I've lived in 3 countries, I love to travel, take photos and help children and women around the world! One day I pray an end to Child Marriages, Rape and a start to equal Education for ALL children 🙏🏽

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