The South African hair scene (or I should say that of the major cities) was a bit of a surprise for me. There were a lot more naturals than I expected though their numbers were dwarfed by women in weaves (there are LOADS of them) and women with relaxed hair.
Unsurprisingly, and like West Africa, women wear their hair in weaves. Not the best quality weave too I must say. As with everything else, Africa gets sold the poorest quality of most things. However, I know that West African women take great pride in the styling of their hair and will spend a lot of money in their general upkeep. SA girls by comparisons are more lax. Probably not a popular view but one I noticed and one a lot of the West African girls living there shared.
When it comes to natural hair, I am guessing that the further away from the main cities you are the more naturals there are. In West Africa this usually means girls with short shaved styles (its viewed as clean and helps to keep school nits at bay). That might be the case too in SA but I am not sure. I would however say that the natural style is very distinct and beautiful in the cities of SA.
Both men and women wear locks. This seems to be the preferred style and I rarely came across women with curly fros like the trend in the western world. The locs are beautiful and they carry them well. From questioning people who wear them, it seems that they because popular over the last ten years. They grow long and are the hairdressers seem to be adept at caring for them (unlike loose fros. See next post!!) The locs in most instances are wrapped and twisted in a curving style and for the men are left long and loose. Unfortunately I did not take enough pictures of the men’s hair.
On the two big clubbing nights out, there were a decent number of naturals. More so than I would see in a London or NYC club. The style there was mostly short cropped hair. Clearly braids are not a natural style per say as the wearer might have relaxed hair; however I consider them somewhat natural because they are so intrinsically African. Again, you go to a London club and very few girls carry braids. And the music rocks there. They play the typical US sounds, West African sounds (1er Gaou seems to be still the rage after all these years. I mean come we have Bobaraba and Mapouka since and even these are ancient!!) and SA sounds. The latter are tinged with the DJ crying out “Whooosssaaa” which means come on. Get into it!!! I certainly did!!
Unfortunately, when it comes to products, there do not seem to be many for naturals. The few girls with loose curls (meaning not styled in locks) used very little products. I went to the markets in the hope of finding SA’s equivalent of Shea/cocoa butter if not these things and came back empty handed. This is different to West Africa where at a market you will always find unrefined Shea butters etc. I asked around and there was nothing! A lot of the stores were Indian owned and so had henna and other products. Everything was packaged in China and India and I was left disappointed with the lack of African identity. So much so that I went to the Museum of Man and Science (a weird concoction of juju and medicinal products, animal hides and skulls) hopping to come across something I could use when making my own products. There again I came empty handed as everything was for medical use or to place a spell upon someone lol.
The only products I came across were the likes of Dax. This probably explains why people prefer to wear locks. Or their preference for wearing locks means there is little demand for these types of products. I am sure that if I went to the villages I would have had better luck. My quest to find some exotic SA product I could bring back and experience with in my apothecary was disappointing.
On the bright side, going up to strangers and asking to take their pictures was a lot of fun. No one turned me down though one of my friends was a little peeved. Enjoy the pics and let me know your thoughts as always! x