Natural Hair Care

A lot of people think that properly caring for natural afro hair is a lot of work and too expensive. As a student whose main achievements at university have been to waste money like water on food and procrastinate on all pieces of coursework. I’m living proof that caring for afro hair can be cheap, fun and within everyone’s expertise. Cheap here means costing you less than your next weave or braids. And I’m going to give a few pointers and tips in this article

A good starting point is knowing what works and what doesn’t for your hair. As I’m the proud owner of tightly coiled locks, this piece will be talking mainly about that kind of hair, however those of you fortunate/unfortunate enough to have looser coils can still follow this but maybe reduce the amounts of products used. I don’t follow the hair typing rule in caring for my hair, this was a major source of pain when I first started, was I a 4A or 5C or 3DD?

The dreaded hair type chart where “good hair” is distinguished from “bad hair”

I used to spend hours reading up on all these techniques of specific hair types. To me now, they’re a waste of time seeing as I’m a 3B at the back, 4A in the middle and 3C in the front…Or I think so anyway. The point is that hair typing is not as important as knowing what works for your hair. It could be the expensive Shea moisture products, or simple olive oil/coconut oil. What does not work as a moisturiser or styling product however is Pink Oil and other petrochemical products, you’ll get better moisturising by rinsing your hair in crude oil (which they are refined from)

Raw Shea Butter

Almonds, the superfood, also the source of sweet Almond oil

Don’t fall into the trap of becoming a product junkie. I speak from experience, I have a cupboard full of half used and unused products at great expense to my student loan. This was as a result of watching YouTube videos and believing that to get the same results I’d have to splurge on the expensive products the blogger’s used. Seriously, don’t fall into that trap, these people are paid to promote these products to you. Find what works best for you.

For me, it’s as simple as whipped shea butter as styling cream for my twist outs, braid outs etc. A homemade mixture of water, almond oil, avocado oil, grape seed oil and lavender oil (my four miracle oils) as a daily moisturising spray. A large toothed comb for everyday duties and a rat tail comb for styling. I limit combing to once or twice a week. To avoid breakages and split ends, dampen the hair first, comb in little sections and comb from the top gently

Good picture, terrible combing technique.

Partition hair, dampen if needed, gentle use of wide toothed comb from top to bottom.

Washing the hair is a once every three week occurrence in winter, however I co wash it with a mixture of conditioner (shea moisture coconut and hibiscus conditioner) and the four oils mentioned above weekly, if needed (after the occasional exercise), up to twice in one week. This last point is very important, it took me almost a decade to realise the reason I looked like an extra on Roots was because I washed it daily (whilst texturized). It was so dry and brittle, it never progressed past a dusty looking twa with sharp edges.

Circa 2006-2007. Thank jesus for puberty, good hair care and MAC.

2015, blowdried healthy hair. Don’t be afraid of the heat

2015, bendy rollers and shea butter.

Twist out and Shea butter

My haircare regime is pleasantly simple, it has to be for someone a lazy as me:

Sunday: cowash, twist out/braid out

Monday: enjoy twist/braid out

Tuesday: spritz with water and oil, enjoy twist/braid out

Wednesday: enjoy twist/braid out.

Thursday: enjoy twist/braid out. Re-twist/Re-braid at night especially if going out on Friday

Friday: enjoy twist/braid out

Saturday: spritz with water and oil, enjoy twist/braid out

The twists/braids take about an hour to do, 5 if I’m watching TV.

I don’t have special days where I do deep protein conditioning, banana and egg wash etc. I don’t need them personally but if your hair is in need of more TLC then there is space to schedule that into the regime above. In total my oils and conditioner cost me £25 on Amazon and the oils mixed together are also an effective after shower moisturiser. With daily use of the oils after shower as well as weekly use on hair, they’ve lasted me almost 3 months. It is this regime that has allowed my hair to grow from a twa when I cut it finally in July to shoulder length 12 months later. It truly works, and my skin is baby soft too as an added bonus

Big chop August 2014

April 2015. 8 months growth.

If you need any styling or moisturising advice, feel free to drop me an email or a message below. Also please, check out my #GlowUpChallenge

Ire

Plantains and Peanuts; An excerpt of a work in progress

Prologue

Hi, my name is  Modupe Folarin. I was born on the 5th of December 1980 hence my first name Abiodun. I was the third out of 5 children born to my mother and the only surviving after having lived in Nigeria as part of the so called lower class. My father was the best anyone could ask for, his only fault was that he loved his country. My mother was destined for success……or she would have been if the fates had been kinder.

I don’t remember anything about my formative years; perhaps this is nature’s way of softening life’s blows. I’m not bitter about my fate, I’ve learned that to survive you have to accept fate’s fickleness quickly, and accept it I did. It didn’t matter that circumstances forced me to question my fate; I accepted my lot in life. Never lost hope. This was mine and my mother’s downfall.

The earliest traumatic experience I had was on the 11th of February 1994. Up until then my childhood had been uneventful. It started out as any other ordinary day. We all woke up at 6am, as usual, and the six of us children flooded into mommy and daddy’s tiny bedroom. Shola, the oldest was on mummy’s right side. She was sitting with her slender legs stretched out in front of her, crossed at the ankles. Her hair was long and loosely curled; it reached down to her shoulders. Her eyes were almond shaped and widespread; they were honey brown and complemented her skin tone. A rich milk chocolate with a clear complexion that was the envy of every other 17 year old in the neighbourhood. There was Doyin the second eldest, she was of a stockier build and she was lying down on daddy’s right side with her head resting on his right thigh. She was still recovering from an episode two weeks earlier. Thankfully she seemed to be getting stronger although we all knew her sickle cell anaemia meant she would never be completely healthy. But for a 15½ year old she didn’t let the condition rule her life. I was sitting on mummy’s left side, my body slouched into her’s to support myself as I dozed during the lengthy prayer. The twins Segun and Timi were both lying intertwined in the middle of the bed behind our father. I envied them ther right to sleep till whenever they wanted. In my mind they should have been woken up and put in mummy’s lap, it didn’t matter that they were only 3½ years old.

The prayer started with the usual praise and worship followed by a short plea to God to deliver Nigeria from the hands of the military, daddy always led the first half of the session. This was followed by an intense prayer by both parents for God to provide the funds to build our own house, the amens to this were more vigorous. Of course I had heard these prayer points many times and my prayer predictably ran out after about 2 minutes, peeping out of my half shut eyes I saw that Shola and Doyin’s mouths were not moving, indicating they had dozed off. Not long after I was back in dreamland myself. It seemed like mere seconds since I closed my eyes however Dupe’s plea for me to wake up and get ready for school told me it was no longer 6:15am but 7:30am. Daddy had already set off for work, with it being Lagos morning traffic was always chaotic so he normally left at 7am to meet his resumption time of 9am as a cashier at the Standard Chartered bank of Nigeria. That morning, bare chested with his small afro disorderly and some stubble showing on his leathered cheeks, prematurely aged by the unforgiving rays of the African sun and pockmarked by numerous ingrown hairs resulting from cheap razors. Daddy, with ingrown hairs peeking out of his weathered face, the stubble slightly greying, and his paunchy chest on show in the hot, humid Nigerian morning was the last image I had of my father, the picture of him that fateful morning as we held our morning prayers was the last time I ever saw my father alive.

The day proceeded like normal with Dupe and Doyin going to the nearby secondary school and mom dropping me off at the local primary school, Timi and Segun toddling along as their pre-school started an hour after mine so the routine was to drop me at school and then the twins at pre-school. You could already tell by their personalities that they were strong-willed and mischievous; this was further compounded by the fact that they were pampered silly by both mama and papa.

The school bell jingled periodically, at the start of school, break, lunch and the end of school. This particular day though the bells were not rung at the start of school by 08:50am but by 11:00am just after the bells rung for break I was heading back home with a close family friend. Her name was Mrs Adeniyi. Usually she was a gregarious individual, the loudest of mama’s friends and the most outspoken. However today she was withdrawn, gripping my wrists tightly as we walked down the dusty street back home and her normally expressive features were shuttered, all she had told me at school was that I was needed at home urgently. At that point I had a premonition of impending doom, but the feeling was alien to me at that time. I just concentrated on following her footsteps as she weaved in and out of the busy street, avoiding hawkers selling groundnuts and plantains, pure water and boiled eggs. As we rounded the street corner, just before our modest rented property came into view, the midday sun retreated behind a menacing dark cloud that seemed to have crept up on it, stretching out over the horizon. The smell changed abruptly as a slow, fat breeze rolled down the dusty unpaved street, bringing with it an elusive sweet scent. That indescribable scent that alerted you to an advancing thunderstorm. The pervasive smell of frying akara and open gutters was replaced. Silence reigned for the briefest of moments as we turned the corner, and almost eerie quiet…the sounds of the normal hustle and bustle gone, replaced by the wind getting stronger and louder. As well as the gentle howling of the wind was the faint panicked bleats of a goat in distress. This sound seemed to break the spell and human activity started to pick up again as mothers called their children and goats in whilst shopkeepers hurriedly carried their wares indoors and the akara women frantically tried to extinguish the flames below the big pots of boiling oil used to fry the bean cakes.

As our bungalow came into view, the first thing I noticed was a grey Peugeot 504 parked in front. At first I thought papa was home early with his “oga”. After all if papa’s boss was visiting us then the man had to have some very important news to share with us. Of course the wails drifting from the house sounded anguished more than ecstatic and to compound matters they sounded like mama.

Mrs Adeniyi led me up the stairs to the veranda surrounding the property. She opened the mosquito screen to let me in and then entered herself but not before kicking the resident chicken away from the door. Walking past the kitchen I know something was seriously wrong as our next door neighbours were in there and the women looked at me with pity as I walked past on my way down the corridor. In the sitting room was my normally well-groomed mother sitting on the floor, her wrapper untied and headgear undone on the floor. Her undergarments were visible and her elaborate suku had come undone. Worst of all, tears and mucus was freely streaming from her face. Her voice hoarse, she was crying and talking at the same time. This was not the same mama I bid farewell to that morning at the school gates. Two female members of our church were holding her arms outstretched on opposite sides and they looked like they were doing a good job of restraining her all whilst quoting bible verses. Talking about someone’s ascension to eternal peace and greater glory. On the armchair facing mama was papa’s boss, he looked haunted and was as still as a statue.

It was then that I realised what was happening, why the church members were quoting bible verses to my ma, why the neighbours and Mrs Adeniyi were acting so out of character, why I had been experiencing the strange feeling of loss all morning. It all clicked into place.

Papa was not coming back home.

My father was dead. He was 40

Hit by a yellow bus

He died almost instantaneously, his life snatched away callously and selfishly by a speeding driver.

A day that has started so full of life and promises had turned so quickly, the hopes and dreams burnt into ashes and tinder, leaving a permanent scar in our lives.

Global Well Being and The Media

An essay I wrote almost 5 years ago now about the role the media plays on how Africa is viewed. Still just as relevant now as it was then. I have had to convert it into wordpress form and as a result, the picture in it is very unclear, the references were also not added at the end of the essay. Enjoy!

New Orleans: a vibrant city, bursting to the seams with culture, the birthplace of jazz and legends like Louis Armstrong, and the gateway to the Mighty Mississippi River. No other city is quite like it, with its scintillating nightlife and burlesque shows, waterways that criss-cross the entire city, a mix of races and culture too numerous to quantify, all fused into one city. The temperature is just perfect. The most unique multicultural city in the US which has both sweeping plantation homes as old as the city on one part; and some slightly less grand city dwellings on the other.  A democratic political system where people can aspire to be presidents and marvel at the distinct French-creole architectural style. The name alone conjures up new beginnings and a bucketful of hope….

I’ve never been there though. How is it that I can describe the architecture, history and social life as a native inhabitant might? How did I know about the Mardi gras celebrations and the French-creole architectures? The more I thought about it the more I realised, I hadn’t set out to broaden my horizons, and neither did I find out about New Orleans to be able to participate in a discussion about American carnivals. In fact I hadn’t actively sought out information about it. I hadn’t ‘googled’ it and sat through page after page of interlinking Wikipedia articles. It was simply there. A huge database of information consisting of random snippets from various films, documentaries and cartoons condensed into a general knowledge of the city. I didn’t know about the Mardi Gras until I watched the Disney film: “The Princess and the Frog”. (Twins, 2010)  As a result I didn’t have to think to describe New Orleans, even though I’d never tasted the air or smelt the Mississippi’s unique scent.

Trying to visualise an African city however posed a different set of challenges. It wasn’t a lack of information or underexposure to stories from the continent. The crux of the problem was negativity.  I had to consciously sift through the countries to find the most positive. Every time I tried to think of a city in Africa my mind immediately started playing back documentaries about desertification, famine, civil war, genocide, even the Hollywood film: “Black Hawk Down”. (Pathay, 2001). I realised that my subconscious was selecting the country I knew most about. My mind was stuck on Somalia. I was halfway into my brainstorming before I realised my level of ignorance on the small matter of cities within Somalia.

It occurred to me that while the media brought stories about the country they never described the country farther than on an international level. Apart from Mogadishu I had no idea of the other cities. I was guilty of failing one of the fundamental judging points I used for strangers. On my first day of secondary school in the UK a well-meaning girl came up to me and gently asked where I came from. To which I replied Nigeria. After elaborating further, she was able to get a grip on the location. Puzzled, she asked me how a country could exist within another country. This was when I realised that she had a view of Africa as a country not a continent. I can’t blame her for it though as we were both young and naïve. However a similar occurrence happened in year 10 when a girl asked me which type of hut I used to live in as she had seen some on holiday to Tanzania. This question I found much more difficult to understand. A quick Google search reveals why she asked:

dgjhdmbfjhhkhn

The similar results section in Google asked me to specify my search result even farther to “Kenyan poor houses”. Whilst this was no fault of Google, it was simply displaying the most common search terms to do with Kenya. People do not generally expect much in the way of infrastructure from Africa, this stems from the images beamed to us through our news channels and television screens. Ultimately when they search for Kenyan houses on Google they specify the search to show what they perceive as a normal African house…or “poor house” My father once cried out in exasperation when a BBC correspondent was interviewed in the Nigerian capital of Abuja. He was moved to tears of frustration when the correspondent was interviewed in front of an open market in the rundown outskirts of the city. I was younger then and I did not realise his frustration. The BBC chose to show archive footage of a run-down area to support the correspondent’s report on the country’s politics. The city of Abuja is a mega-city custom built out of the lush savannah, a similar feat to the construction of Las-Vegas with stunning architectures and it is one of the most modernised in Africa. Whilst the BBC may have not acted deliberately, they inadvertently fed into the belief that Nigeria’s flagship city is nothing to write home about. It was then that I realised that our perceptions of the Third World, especially Africa are mostly shaped by what we see, hear and read in the media. The media does not deliberately go out of its way to portray Africa in a bad light; it reports on the latest famine in Somalia, the latest genocide in Rwanda and atrocities in Libya because it wants to inspire, it wants people to act and donate or buy fair-trade because it cares to make a difference. The problem however is that too much of the same kind of story is not good for a place. Just as my description of New-Orleans sounds too sweet and sickly, so does my description of Somalia sound too violent and harrowing. I don’t advocate that we simply bury our heads in the sand and pretend that people are not threading a fine line between life and death in Somalia. Neither am I suggesting that we go out of our way to portray Somalia as a Garden of Eden, like my idealised view on New-Orleans.  In reality New-Orleans is still recovering from the destruction caused by hurricane Katrina, race equality is one of the worst in America and many ethnic minorities live in places similar to a Third World city.

“On September 22 the Census Bureau released information from their 2010 annual American Community Survey based on a poll of 2,500 people in New Orleans. Not surprisingly, the report was ignored by the local mainstream media since it speaks volumes about the inequality of the Katrina recovery. The survey revealed that 27% of New Orleans adults now live in poverty and 42% of children… The new spike in poverty signal that blacks are not sharing equally in the employment benefits of recovery dollars. Indeed, the city may be creating a new generation of chronically unemployed poor who were previously part of the low-wage working poor.” (Hill, 2011)

For a MEDC the figures above are unacceptable and it shows the gap between minorities. As stated The media largely ignored this as it portrayed the city in a bad light. Without doing any independent research of my own I would not have known that such levels of inequality exist in the United States. Yet I know that thousands of people have fled Somalia due to conflict and even more have died from famine and related causes. I know that as recently as a few weeks ago, hundreds of people died and thousands were displaced when a ‘tribe’ went to war with a neighbouring tribe over stolen cattle (ABC, 2012). I didn’t research it but the news media chose to broadcast it. The danger in press practices like this is that people fall into the trap of a ‘single story’. According to a prominent Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; a single story is dangerous as it only shows one perspective and the audience have to form their own perceptions from a narrow point of view. (Tunca, 2009)  She goes further to say that most people in the developed world have a single story of Africa.

My roommate had a single story of Africa: a single story of catastrophe. In this single story there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her in any way, no possibility of feelings more complex than pity, no possibility of a connection as human equals. (Adichie, 2009)

In the speech she implies that the media is guilty of perpetuating a single story of less developed countries. They might be well meaning but ultimately through the use of terms like ‘tribal’ which depict a backward race they are helping to form stereotypes about Africa.

Ultimately we need to ask ourselves what part the media plays in forming our ideas and stereotypes about wellbeing in LEDCs. Are we guilty of fostering our perceived notions about wellbeing and wealth on a different culture? In the UK, to marry a woman a man might have to produce an engagement ring and the bigger the stone, the better according to conventions. This society puts value on precious stones, jewellery, houses’ the ultimate holiday to the Bahamas etc. It is a product of the country’s history and geography. In the UK water is seen as a common commodity as we have rivers of it. In parts of sub-Saharan Africa, to marry a woman you need to provide the family with a certain number of livestock, tubers etc. In countries like that holidays, diamonds, big houses with the latest gadgets and fashionable clothes are not valued as they are not of top priority. This is not because some cannot afford it. But it is because by its very nature a society values what it does not have an abundance of. For example in the UK precious stones and gold are status symbols because they have to be imported making them expensive. In Somalia land is not valuable but water is, if a rural living Somali man was given diamonds it would be more worthless than water, it does not feed his prized cattle or make the rains fall. We cannot judge a country’s level of wellbeing by comparing what they have with what we have, as cultures are the product of environment.

“In developed economies virtually every activity has been commercialised…national accounts of any western nation include payments for personal beauty care, which for the US is around $60 billion a year. Such an item would hardly feature in the accounts of African nations. However, this does not mean that African men and women living in villages do not enjoy ‘beauty’ treatments – activities are not commercialised. In 1996 Britain spent some $33 billion on beer, wine and spirits…the consumption of palm wine, local spirits and other indigenous alcoholic brews in African villages is not incorporated in national accounts…in capitalist societies, virtually all aspects of culture is monetized and incorporated in the national accounts…total annual expenditure on marriages and funerals in the US runs into several billions of dollars a year…people marry in African societies in elaborate and joyful ceremonies and the dead are buried with appropriate ritual, little of these activities get into the national accounts… Leisure and entertainment sectors account for a large proportion of the GDP of western nations, but in the GDP of poor countries these universal components of life hardly figure…When considering the material conditions of people in Africa, a distinction should be made between absolute poverty and relative poverty…” (Obadina, 2008) 

There is no denying the levels of absolute poverty in Africa but is the media guilty of perpetuating a single story to us in the information they choose to show. Are we guilty of succumbing to the single story? Maybe we should ask ourselves, how many times we have seen pictures of Africans living in poverty and assumed the continent is a single story of catastrophe. Although well-meaning, how many of us have fallen into the trap of the single-story portrayed by the media and changed our default position to one of pity? In this are we guilty of robbing a continent of its dignity?  Our generation and the generations before got it wrong, however we can still try to rewrite history. By re-educating the new generation of children and teaching them the dangers of single stories, it might be too late for our generation but we have the opportunity to mould the future of our children. As countries become more diverse we need to teach our children the dangers of a single story so they do not get left behind in the ever evolving politics of the dynamic modern world we live in.

Nail Polish improvisations

Hi guys! This is me takin a break from revision to post a blog… As you do…
We all know how important nails are to our beauty regime, either females or males. A good paint job can have you feeling like a Naomi Campbell or a Tyson Beckford. A bad one? Like an extra from Roots.
Between revising for my numerous exams and maintaining the illusion that I’m still aiming for a first class (sorry mum), I decided to paint my finger nails 💅. Good stress buster by the way. Boys can also partake in a manicure when life gets stressful.

Now I wanted a salon looking paint job on my chromes but didn’t want to shell out the extra £20 to get it done professionally (after splurging £200 on a new sound system and £60 on designer lipstick)#priorities.
Dilemma. How do I achieve this? By doing it myself obviously you cry!
Making good use of my NUS card in the nail polish section of Superdrug I bought the lovely colours below:

image

From left to right: Rimmed London nail base and top coat, Rimmel London 60 seconds Super shine in 'Black out', Rimmel London 60 second Super shine in 'Rapid Ruby', Maybelline Colour Show in Sugar crystals

Obviously we all know how to paint nails so I won’t bore you with how to hold the brush and stuff like that. You can see my Clinical Biochemistry notes in the background 😎 🌚🌚😭🚫
The order in which I used the Polish above was:

-Base Coat, Black Out, Sugar Crystals, Top Coat
-Base Coat, Rapid Ruby, Sugar crystals, Top Coat

image

Close-up of the finished product

I painted all the nails black except the fourth finger to give the impression of salon acrylic nails.
The nail pictures were taken almost 5 days after painting them and from the pictures we can see the Polish still going strong 💪💅.

image

image

The sugar crystals polish is what makes this paint job work as it adds shine and an illusion of texture to the nails. Not bad for something that took half an hour to finish.

Race relations in America

So to commemorate my new blog, I decided to repost a rant I had on facebook a while back. I don’t have the time currently to write a blog, even if I do make one whist I was supposed to be revising for my 11 exams 🙈.
I promise I will get round to posting actual blogs but for now my first post will be a repost of a rant *sorry*. But it’s relevant as ever in the wake of the #BaltimoreRiots; enjoy…

The whole justice system in America needs reform. The same young officers that were holding the water cannons and unleashing the dogs during the Civil rights movement are now heads of police departments. The same officers involved in Selma, Alabama boycotts etc are now police chiefs, sheriffs, heads of crime units.
The same young members of the kkk during segregation are now senior officers in the police and judiciary. If they did this in their youth, what makes us think that they’ll take the killing of unarmed black men seriously?
The end of segregation should not have been the end of the Civil rights movement. It should have been the platform to launch into phase two. The end of Jim crow laws and black laws and segregation did not mean the end of racism. These people just stuffed their hate, prejudice, racism, kkk membership into sacks. These sacks have now frayed over the resulting decades.
Obama having the audacity as a POC to become  president loosened the neck of the sack significantly, after all he should have stayed in his lane according to Fox news and the GOP. and now all the hate is pouring out from the moth holes and gaping frayed edges of that sack.

It’s there for all to see, the Republicans and tea party don’t hide their racism, the police don’t hide their face when they kill, the judges don’t flick when they hand down disproportionate sentences for POC compared to Caucasians.
That country is rotten to the core and the stench cannot be hidden with the perfume of “post racial world/I don’t see colour” utopia some like to perpetuate.