Introduce yourself, please.
My name is Ebele Isioma Afuberoh. I am a lawyer and I live and work in Lagos. I was raised here too. I love to read and I make a wonderful singer (yes, in the bathroom, with the echo in the shower helping me along...J).
I recently made the decision to transition from permed, chemically treated, relaxed and much damaged) hair to a natural ‘fro. (Yay)
Have you ever worn your natural hair?
Growing up, I wore my natural hair. My sisters and I: we all had beautiful ‘fros.
Up until I was about twelve my Mom washed and conditioned my hair once a week (usually on Saturdays), after which it would be woven into cornrows or threaded. I had a head full of hair then *sigh*.I took over washing and conditioning my hair when I had to go to boarding school and learn to live by myself.
Growing up, my sisters and I got comments about how dark, full and soft our hair was.
My Mom let me put in a relaxer after I graduated from Secondary School, and I proceeded to ruin my very full, healthy and shiny hair by getting monthly relaxer applications.
This year, I finally got tired of the split ends, damaged edges and lank, unhealthy hair so I decided to go natural.
At some point I got really tired of the split ends and weak strands, and so I went to my stylist and had my hair cut short, in the style of a bob. This seemed to help, and my stylist (bless his heart) tried a number of hair treatments, but heat and relaxers just proved too much And I just thought, I will stop the relaxers. I mean, why not, right?
I know some people seem to consider the ‘natural hair thing’ a popular fad that will pass as most trends do, but for me, this is akin to taking a walk down that road called ‘self-discovery.’ Plus, I’ve had relaxed/ permed hair since my late-teens, and I have almost completely forgotten what I look like with my natural curls. I would really like to find that out. Again. J
I didn’t want to do a big chop (because I mean, Heaven only knows how I would look, what with this prominent forehead of mine. LOL), so I began transitioning earlier this year, in February. It has been an interesting five months to be honest; and even though I get apprehensive and oscillate from wringing my hands over whether or not to just go ahead and get a big chop done, and staring at the mirror for hours on end, simply willing this hair to grow, for cryin’ out loud! LOL
Has it been difficult maintaining it (e.g. people’s reactions, finding products, styling it, getting help with your hair)
It hasn’t been too much of a challenge maintaining my transitioning hair.
It is said that there is nothing new under the Sun, and there really is no need to re-invent the wheel. People have gone natural, are going natural, and will go natural. I knew I needed information, and I got some.
What better place to scour for this much needed than the internet?
So I got on my phone (oh, the wonders that mobile devices can work for the budding ‘Naturalista’!) and Googled, and YouTubed and what not. I got very helpful tips from the YouTube community. I spoke to a few of my friends who are natural, and they pointed me in the direction of the growing community of naturals here in Nigeria- Natural Nigerian, African Naturalistas, LoveIfeyinwa, and so on –wonderful ladies all, I might add.
Getting products for my hair hasn’t been as difficult as I thought, given that they are stocked in the markets and by a good number of product vendors. I have become especially fond of Coconut Oil and the scented shea butter that I purchased at the last ‘Naturals in the City – NITC 6’ meet up in Lagos. Very, very nice.
I have ordered a good amount of them.
With styling, I have mostly left my hair in braids or under weaves. Because my edges are thin, when I get braids, I ensure that the braider leaves the little hairs at the edges of my scalp alone. I make extra sure of this, as my edges are in recovery and I do not wish to stress them t all. I keep it moisturized by spritzing a blend of oils and water on my scalp every day and coating my edges - temples and nape with shea butter and castor oil.
Apart from your soon returning to Natural Hair, have you incorporated a more natural/healthy lifestyle?
Since starting my transitioning journey, I have adjusted my lifestyle choices for food and exercise.
I have always liked a large glass of water and now, I drink even more of it. I think it has become my favourite beverage now (even though I still like my Coke occasionally)
I really like sodas- Coca Cola is my favourite thing in the whole, wide world. J. However, I have however taken a bit of a break on it and other sweet things (an extremely uncomfortable change in lifestyle, albeit a necessary one, given that one’s system really ought not to suffer too many sweet things and what not *sigh*.. Lol). As part of a healthier lifestyle that I am adopting, I drink much more of clear fluids – water especially, and peppersoup I also love Cranberry juice because of its cleansing qualities, and have consumed more protein than I have in a long time. I especially love yoghurt. Fantastic stuff, plain yoghurt, I am telling you. It’s fun eating it, never mind the healthy part!
Also, instead of red meat, I just eat fish. I avoid ‘fast’ food as well
Do you think that there is a link? Would you have incorporated those changes if you had not begun to think of going natural?
I do believe that there is a link between going natural with one’s hair, and a healthy lifestyle. Healthy hair is not mutually exclusive of a healthy body. They work together. So a change in lifestyle will certainly help with getting good hair.
Hair is protein, and if you want healthy hair, I have learnt that you should eat that protein as well as put it in your hair! It makes sense, to be honest.
The more organic and natural foods one consumes, the stronger, healthier and lighter on one’s feet that one becomes. With greasy food,sweetmeats, sugary food and drinks your systemis stressed,you end up with greasy, blotchy skin, bad hair and nails, never mind a thick, heavy and uncomfortable torso.
But if you saturate your system with water, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and exercise, you will notice clearer skin, stronger nails and healthier hair.
I have personally noticed how more efficient my metabolism has become since avoiding sodas. I have a long way to go, and I need to break the particularly bad habit of eating late at night, but I’m getting there, and so is my hair! I have transitioned for just a little more than five months now and I am greatly encouraged to eat and live better
How have you managed to transition and remain professional?
This is not that much of a challenge. In this transitioning period, I have kept my hair mostly in braids. I have noticed several women in my office building who have nicely teased afros or kinky twists and they seem to be getting along very well in their professional environments.
Do you have a healthy goal (hair, nutrition, exercise?)
I lost some weight with the dietary changes I made earlier on the year. My goal is to lose an additional 5 kg by the end of September 2013. I also plan to buy a Nintendo Wii and get a dance DVD on it, so I can dance my way to toned arms and legs! In the meantime, I try to do stretches every morning when I get up, as well as pushups.
I have incorporated more fruits and vegetables into my diet as well. For example, at night, when I get sugar cravings, I just pull out carrot sticks from my fridge and crunch away. I have discovered that I am quite fond of carrots. J
Based on all you know now, what would you do for your children (male and female in terms of hair, nutrition, natural living as opposed to the way you were brought up e.t.c)?
With my children, they will have their vegetables! My brother and sisters had beans (with fried or boiled plantains, yams or fish) at least thrice a week for lunch while we were growing up. We didn’t like it very much then, but its benefits to our immune system and our hair was very obvious! With each meal, fruit as accompaniment is mandatory. That way, they get their vitamins the natural way and will have continually strengthened immune systems
Also, as much as possible, I will encourage them to consume their vegetables raw. For example: I like to chew tomatoes, as did my Dad, who would cut tomatoes into quarters and eat them raw. Hopefully, they will watch me do the same and catch up on it.
Growing up, my parents discouraged the consumption of sweets, chewing gum and so on. I plan to continue in this way with my children.
Any words of wisdom or advice for others?
It is important to look after yourself My Mom always says that one should look after oneself. As a woman, your hair and skin are your claim to beauty. It is easy to tell a woman who has looked after herself conscientiously: a woman like that at 40 is usually a sight to behold.
Eat healthy, exercise, and as much as is possible, avoid alcohol and cigarettes.
It is especially important to remember that your body is hallowed ground, not a theme park, and his goes for both men and women. Oh, and beauty is from within. So for that happy, beautiful glow that radiates from inside, be good to yourself and others!