From threading to braids, Nigerian women aren’t afraid to experiment with their hair. We have been consistently adding attachments and weaves to adorn our beloved crowns. Gone are the days that a TWA (that’s Teeny Weeny Afro) meant you were on your way to boarding school or being punished for remotely enticing a boy with your hair just by letting the wind catch a strand. Now, a modern group of Nigerian Naturalistas are in the front of the hair class, giving us the inspiration to Big Chop and start over, proudly wearing our natural coils without shame. Here are a few noted Nigerians leading the way to help us embrace our beauty, naturally.
It’s vacation season, and I’ve already started using my passport this. Nigeria was my first stop. Actually, I’ve been going back to Nigeria often lately. Peruse my previous posts here and here. To some, Nigeria isn’t a vacation spot at the top of their list, but it has a lot to offer if we open our minds to it. Not only Nigeria, but the massive African continent is an understated vacation haven. Instead of mapping out your next European excursive, think outside the typical vacation box and travel to a place that isn’t far from your ancestral backyard.
You may not have heard of Seychelles, or even have known that it’s a part of the African Union, but Prince William fancied it. Seychelles was the honeymoon destination for the Prince and Duchess of Cambridge, and it can be yours too. I’ve been eyeing Seychelles even before it became a celebrity hotspot for its beautiful blue waters and lush green scenery right off the east coast of Africa.
Placed on the Mahé Island, the Constance Ephelia boasts of elegants beaches with private villas and sophisticated waves to match. This luxury resort with surely give you some R&R time.
“I know who you are?” “An Ajebutter.”
I have been mistaken, yes — mistaken for an Ajebutter, one too many times. I can’t remember when I first heard the term used on me, but I do remember one instance. I was on a date (not really…I don’t believe in dating, but so you can visualize the scene…I was at dinner), sitting at a nice restaurant across from what appeared to be a cultured man who was sizing me over and said, “You are an Ajebutter.”
Growing up in the US, I didn’t hear it often. So unashamedly, I asked, “What?” “What does that mean?” He explained that it was a person who grow up pampered, privileged…to some spoilt. But he didn’t say it in a negative way, he wanted to actually say I appeared prissy. LOL. That I can be at times, but I most certainly wasn’t born privileged or was I spoilt. Every time I heard the terms, I resented them…the people that spoke it and the terms themselves. Because it discounted the late night work sessions, the endless note taking and tea drinking over life plans and strategies, the hours spent praying, fasting and studying my Word, so I could assure myself that I was staying in God’s will for my life. It got to a point where I complained to my pastor about my appearance of a charmed life even though my upbringing and constant grind was far from charmful. His answer? It’s the grace & favor of God over your life.
I thought and pondered over what he said. And realized, it’s the same grace & favor that sought out Esther from the other women and “pampered” her until she was positioned to save her people. So if God’s grace & favor makes me look “pampered,” that’s because I am and continue to be until my purpose is fulfilled. And I accept it.
Are you pampered?
When I was brainstorming the name for my blog, I wanted a name that both represented my cultural identity and feminine aesthetic. Initially, I wrote down every adjective I could think of that I felt represented me and my style, but the concepts didn’t give me that “yes, that’s it!” feeling. I was getting frustrated. because all the ideas I came up with didn’t click for me. But when I prayed, I felt more about peace with not having an answer right away. After some days, the name Gidi & Pearls came to me. Yes, that’s it!
“Gidi” stems from “Las Gidi,” the nickname of Lagos, a progressive city in Nigeria with a lot of young professionals accomplishing and reaching their goals. “Gidi” was also a play on the word “giddy,” my state when I’m excited and playful about something, which relates to my femininity. The word “Pearls” represents my feminine and classic tendencies. And that’s how Gidi & Pearls was born.
One of the experiences I was looking forward to when I went to Nigeria was getting my hair braided. It’s not like I couldn’t get my hair braided in the States, but braiding my hair in Nigeria….was a totally different experience. It is something about the 2 to 3 women parting and twisting my hair with Expression hair all at the same time with lightening speed that makes it SO authentic to me.
However, my experience this time was a little different. While seating in the wooden chair, I could hear the one of the women complaining in Pidgin. “Hah hair be like Fulani.” “She for don straighten the hair?” I realized they were talking about my coily texture and how it was slowing them down. The complainer wondered whether I was Fulanis because of my texture and why I didn’t straighten it. If we were in the States, it would be like them saying “Her hair is like a White girl.”
But my hair isn’t like a White girl, and it’s not like a Fulani girl. It’s just simply like a Black girl. My hair texture is mainly 4a but I have some b and c strands mixed in. My hair doesn’t discriminate. Fulani’s hair textures are mostly in the 3’s and 2’s. They generally have looser curl patterns and straighter hair, which makes it easier for their hair to look silky and healthy. Me on the other hand…not so much. But I love my coily springy hair. I have learned to appreciate and love my texture, even if it’s misunderstood.
In Nigeria, most women think they have rough, dry hair (and they do because of lack of care…), so they curse their potentially 4C hair. But with proper care and maintenance their curls would be popping too.