Celebrating the culture of natural hair

By Nwabisa Masiza And Dominic Adriaanse Time of article published Dec 19, 2016

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HAIR EXTRAORDINAIRE: Yesterday saw the inaugural Cape Town Naturally hair festival in Muizenberg. Pictured at the festival are: Charmaine Nyikadzino, Kafui Awoonor and Olawunmi Ola-Busari. Picture: Tracey Adams

When five young entrepreneurs and bloggers, Eleanor Barkes, Amanda Cooke, Simone Thomas, Chantal de Kock and Kasuba Stuurman, decided to put together the first ever Cape Town Natural Hair Fest they couldn't have anticipated the overwhelming response and support they received when the big day arrived.

The festival drew hundreds of women and men of all ages celebrating and reclaiming their natural hair, while opening discussions about going natural. 

Loving yourself the way you are was the key message behind the Cape Town Naturally hair festival in Muizenberg yesterday. 

PRETTY PERFECT: Caitlyn Darocha (front) and Taylor Isaacs, both two, at the inaugural Natural Hair Festival at Bluebird Warehouse in Muizenberg. Picture: Tracey Adams

“Many women were emotional today. We are saying it’s okay to be you and that’s what we want to see them embrace. It’s also about giving advice and addressing the issues surrounding the perception of natural hair and good hair care,” said Barkes. 

“Cape Town is almost like a continent on its own, and our hair and culture is very different to those from Gauteng and other regions,” said Simone Thomas, the co-founder of Cape Town Naturally. 

The event was a platform for other entrepreneurs to showcase their wares, specifically those who provide products for natural hair. 

Brian Warfield, an African-American with over 27 years’ experience in the hair care industry, spoke about the lies associated with natural hair. “When women embrace their hair and reject the lies, they are embracing their culture and part of their identity. We’re in Africa, and part of the rejection is we no longer have to conform. Others have to conform to our way,” said Warfield. 

Lauren Fortuin, 23, from Parow, was among those who came to support the event. “For me this event is a very exciting thing as it speaks a lot around the deep questions around self-acceptance and loving yourself. Joining the hair group was a nice thing as I engaged with a nice, small group of people who support one another, and that gave me positivity, which is something I gravitate towards. 

“I got to be around women who are positive about themselves, about their hair and beauty. The main highlight of this was self-acceptance, and again a reminder of how important it is to maintain your hair."

Actress Kay Smith of 7de Laan attended, having received scrutiny on social media regarding her character’s Afro. “This is important as a stirring is occurring, especially within women of colour, and igniting a different spirit in our kids. It has always been in the subconscious and always been a type of oppression that we are now addressing,” said Smith. 

The group said they welcomed new members and anyone interested in knowing more about their movement and future events were welcome to join Cape Town Naturals on Facebook.

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