Nigerian yarns

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I have been remiss in my duty about talking about the products that we carry in our Ahia Natural Nigerian. That will change from now on!

To begin with, I thought I should let you all know that we listened to all the feedback we got about being in stores so we have worked with a few stores to stock our items! Yay!

Natural Nigerian Ahia Stockists

Now, this is by no means a finished list. It is going to grow over the next few months as we add on new stockists. We will ultimately move the list to a page of its own so that you can tell the  exact items you can get at any store that we have listed.

Lagos

  • Ebeano Supermarket, Lekki Phase One
  • Quintessence, 1, Gerard Road, Ikoyi (just after the Parkview Estate Gate)
  • La Pointe, Kofo Abayomi, Victoria Island
  • KL's Natural Bar. 29C Ikorodu Crescent, Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi.
  • Sizzelle Stores. Bounty Brooks Ltd Sizzelle Online Store
    Suite B7, Cherub Mall, Km 18, Lekki Expressway (opposite New Road bus stop), Lekki,

Abuja

  • Natural Mane of Deepbrown & Kinks delivers!
  • Keeks Pharmacy, Bright Star Plaza, Jabi, Abuja
  • H-Medix Pharmaceuticals & Supermarket limited
    No 48 Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent
    Wuse 11- FCT
  • Lumos Naturals & Shop, Suite G8, Mbouty plaza, Marcus Garvey street, behind Emirates Hotel, off 5th Avenue, Gwarinpa.

Online

If you are interested in being a stockist, please write nn@naturalnigerian.com for our terms!

Thanks guys, every bottle of product makes it possible for us to do this on a sustained basis!

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Hey! Introduce yourself (or like my Nigerian folks like to say, let us meet you!)

Hello! I'm Vanessa, a 20-something year old Pilot, Amateur Chef, avid novel reader and Cat lover shuttling between Lagos, Jos and Port Harcourt

High puff

Vanessa rocking a high puff

Have you always worn your natural hair? 

Not really. Like most Nigerian girls of my generation, I wore unrelaxed hair until after Secondary School graduation, then I relaxed it. I didn't relax because I had identity issues like some in the unrelaxed hair 'community' like to make relaxed girls believe, but because it was normal. Everyone did it. Frankly I liked unrelaxed hair and my Mom hasn't relaxed hers in forever. But I did it because that's what everyone was doing. And yes, I also like relaxed hair but caring for mine was herculean. I did take good care of it, but my hair never relaxed well and my scalp burned easily. It was always a perm, THEN a flat iron, then heavy maintenance in the dry climate of Northern Nigeria where I grew up. Then during my National service, I had a bad perm. My long, beautiful, silky hair became dull, lifeless, and started to break off and I got bald patches too! I told myself, ''I'm not really doing myself a favour. It's not like natural hair is bad. Mom's is beautiful. I could try it, the relax again later''. So, I cut it all off, and started afresh. I was going to wait for it to grow for a year or so, then try my hand at relaxing again.

Then it happened. I fell in love. I rocked my my shaved head, then my fro, wore my wigs, I easily did my hair by myself. I damaged it a billion times because I maltreated my poor tresses, but I was having fun. Then she grew longer and became impossible, So I had to get my relaxer. A few days before my appointment at the salon, with my relaxer in hand, I was browsing the web, searching for ways to care for the relaxed hair better, to prevent the same accident from happening again. I came across info on Unrelaxed Hair Care. I was intrigued. I was already into finding natural alternatives for everything else and I'm a health nut, and I love a good challenge. So I decided to give it a shot a second time.

Though I have a love-hate relationship with my temperamental Empress, years later, I've never looked back.

Has it been difficult maintaining it (e.g. people’s reactions, finding products, styling it, getting help with your hair).

When it comes to people’s reactions, it has been mixed. It was not until recently, with long natural hair, that I got compliments from Nigerians for its beauty. Nigerians will always appreciate long hair. But other races have always liked it. But is has never bothered me. I do things like these for myself, and most of my loved ones like it, and those that didn't (but now do) didn't even try to criticize me because I'm a bit eccentric, and they just felt it was me being me. I have even inspired lots of women to stop relaxing. But I do get lots of stares when I wear my hair BIG. I do have to wear it 'small' though at work because it will get in the way and be a hazard.

Products? I have always been a bit of a mixtress. Like I stated earlier, I've been looking for, and formulating natural alternatives for everything possible, from food to cosmetics of all kinds to drugs. I even concocted hair care products for myself and friends when relaxed. So even if I didn't get what my sisters abroad were using, I would find a way to cook up mine. I actually found Natural Nigerian online when looking for a way to concoct the Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula's natural ingredients. Since then I've been hooked. But that doesn't mean that if I come across a wonderful product (especially those with wonderful hard-to-find ingredients) I won't purchase it.

As for styling and getting help with my hair, only once did I let anyone else touch my unrelaxed hair. It was for a photo shoot at my modelling agency, and I was required to have an elaborate updo. Let's just say, that was the end of my modelling career. I had to do another big chop. I resigned. I lost so much hair that I have never ever allowed anyone else style it again.

Apart from returning to Natural Hair, have you incorporated a more natural/healthy lifestyle?

No. I've always been health nut. I grew up in a family of health nuts. And everything we use has got to be natural, except in cases where an effective natural alternative cannot be found, and even then reluctantly. So nothing in that aspect has changed.

How do you manage to have natural hair and remain professional? 

Aviation is all about safety. As long as a Pilot isn't a hazard or doesn't look unsafe, anything goes. If I have my twist-outs down my face, covering my eyes and obscuring my view, I won't be allowed anywhere near the helicopter. But if it's away from my eyes and ears and generally stays out of the way, nobody cares about how you wear your hair.

What is your current regimen?

My regimen is extremely dynamic. It changes with location, season, and availability of products. All I did was understand the Science of my hair, and I work with it. But the basics are the same- prepoo, shampoo, deep condition, style, and a once a month do a strong protein prepoo.

I do a strong protein prepoo once a month: both hydrolysed (to fortify the hair from the inside) and unhydrolyzed proteins (to protect it from the outside). For example, whole eggs, SAA, hydrolysed Wheat protein, other Amino Acids, Milk Protein, Molasses and regular mayonnaise are used. I do add avery little protein to my prepoo each week though to fortify my hair for the washing process.

Weekly, I prepoo with things like Ghee or unsalted butter, a humectant, my butter mix(Cocoa butter, Shea butter, EVOO, EVCO, Avocado oil, Ben Oil) for at least 3 hours (sometimes overnight if there's time). I shampoo only with Black soap. Then deep condition with a mix of only penetrating ingredients; things like Agave nectar or Maple Syrup, EVOO, EVCO, Avocado Oil, Ben Oil, etc added to a deep conditioner. I rinse it out with ACV solution, Then I style with a mix of enriched leave-in conditioner, butter mix and gel/setting lotion.

I dust every three months, clarify monthly, massage my scalp with essential oils twice a week, wrap my hair at night in a satin scarf and sleep on a satin pillowcase. I try other products, and do not use all the aforementioned at once. It might sound like much, but I do enjoy grooming myself, lol.

Do you have a healthy goal (hair, nutrition, exercise?)

length check

Length Check!

Honestly? Long beautiful hair. Really long. I want to stop at 36'', so I'm halfway there. I already take good care of her and keep her healthy.

As for my body, I really need to start working out once more. I used to work out 2 hours daily, now it's less than an hour a week. Though I've put on a few pounds, that doesn't bother me as much as the fact that I miss my ripped look.

...continue reading

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I was in Abuja recently for my very good friend’s wedding. Despite the fact that I had a limited number of days to spend there, I squeezed out time to go for a Hammam. I have only ever done this at MB Hammam in Abuja and so I can only tell you about my experience there. This time I took notes so that I could share it with y’all.

timthumbSource

Let’s walk through it shall we?

After telling them at the reception what treatment (I opted for the basic Hammam this time) I wanted, I was led upstairs to a changing room where I changed into a lovely Ankara robe and rubber slippers.

I was then led downstairs by one of the attendants who took me to the "bath". Disrobed, warm water was poured all over my body and Moroccan olive soap (their own version of black soap) was rubbed all over my body. I was then wrapped up and taken to the steam room where I remained for 20 minutes. While there, the lady attending to me served me cool water with cucumber slices in them.

“This is not for the body conscious as you will be stripped to your underpants for this Hammam”

Back at the bath, warm water was again poured all over my body to rinse off the soap. This was very welcome as the change in temperature after the steam room had me shivering a bit. After this I was made to lie down and the scrubbing began. The exfoliating gloves use are the same as in this post.

My “bather” started with my right arm. I have to admit that the exfoliating process can be quite abrasive and even painful. However, seeing the amount of dirt that fell off my body spurred me on to continue with the treatment as usual ;).

Going over my entire body must have taken at least 30 minutes and by the time we were done, the bed I was laying on was covered in small brown flecks of dead skin and dirt.

I was then rinsed off, scrubbed lightly with soap and rinsed off again. The next step was to cover my body lightly with a mixture of Rhassoul Clay and Lavender. After 5 minutes, this clay mixture is rinsed off.

While my body was still wet, I was sprayed with Rose Water, closely followed by....wait for it....baby oil. I was a bit surprised at this but then I realized that I had paid for the “basic hammam” and so baby oil would be all I would get. This was definitely the downside of my Hammam. As it was my first time doing the basic, I did not realize that this would be the oil used. Natural oils were always used with my other treatments.

After the Hammam, one is led to a room with electronic massage chairs and served sweet peppermint tea and biscuits to help with re-hydration. One may also choose to get an electronic massage. I completely skipped this step this time as I was in a hurry (I had a flight to catch that day). I also do not like electronic massages. Give me human hands any day.

All in all, I was glad I got my Hammam. I will probably try a place in Lagos as I live here. I understand that BNatural Spa offers Hammams.

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In the last few weeks of 2013, I put up this picture of a savings plan on the Natural Nigerian Facebook Page.

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The reaction to it was such that I felt that I had to make one specifically for Nigerians and post it here for you all.

I have prepared two of these sheets (an extra one with one extra zero to give N1,378,000) as I know that there are some people for who N137,800 is not a challenge to save. For those that N1,378,000 is not enough of a challenge, please add a few more zeros and you can save upwards of N13,780,000 per annum.

I absolutely love this plan because it is so easy and does not necessarily break the bank. By the time you need to save a lot more money later in the plan, it is already time for most people to receive allowances from work so that should help. Let me explain how it works.

Natural Nigerian Savings Plan 100

1. Print out the Savings Plan sheet (links to downloadable files below). Designate a bank account that you don't usually use for these savings. If the bank account has no ATM card attached to it, even better.

2. In Week One, save N100/N1000, depending on what plan you decide to go with. Save the amounts for weeks 2, 3 and 4.

3. At the end of Week 4, your balance is N1000 or N10000 (depending on what plan you go with).

4. Tick the cell next to the week each time you make a deposit. That way, you can see if you are on track.

And on it goes till the end of the year when you reap N137,800 or N1,378,000. Downloads available here: N1,378,000 plan and the N137,800 plan.

I will be posting reminders on the Natural Nigerian Facebook page (you will need to like the page to get those reminders in your feed), on a weekly basis to keep us on track. Yes, US, because I intend to do this as well and in 2015, will report on how successful I was.

Let's save together!

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A while ago, I spoke to Adamu Waziri about Bino and Fino, his educational cartoon aimed at children. In the current market climate that is Nigeria, it is laudable that this young man is not only following his passion but is being ethical about choosing sponsors.

If you have not already seen clips, follow this link to view clips of Bino and Fino on the web. You can also buy DVDs for friends and family (fantastic Christmas gifts).

If you ask me, what I like the most about Bino and Fino is the fact that it is African - we are quickly introduced to Bino and Fino's extended family - they eat local food, celebrate African holidays and speak with an African accent. Lastly, Bino has a big, bouncy AFRO which she secures together in two buns! My daughter has a DVD and I have gifted children around me with the same, putting my money where my mouth is.

Here's what Adamu had to say when I asked him a few questions.

Adamu Waziri of Bino and Fino Natural Nigerian

When did you absolutely know that this was something that you were going to do?

I would say 2009 was when everything crystallized and I decided to go for it. Up till then Bino and Fino was just an idea which had been bouncing in my head and I was scared to implement. In fact I didn’t even have a name for the show then. I just knew I wanted to do a genuine animated cartoon show for children. I also knew I wanted the production to be done entirely in Nigeria. Beyond that it was just a void. The Bino and Fino show was developed out of that void. Even though it has been tough I am glad I made the decision to pursue this project.  

I am sure that you have had some highs and some lows with this project. Please share them with us.

The highs come in different ways. The fact that we were the first to actually produce an educational children’s animation DVD in Nigeria and then bring it to market was a high for me. We had to go through a lot to achieve that. Another high is more important to me. That is the reaction of parents and children to the show. When a parent gets in touch with us to let us know the positive effect the show has had on their kids it gives me more fuel to push ahead past the lows. At the end of the day that is what Bino and Fino is about. Educating and entertaining kids.

The lows are those I’m sure many businesses face in Nigeria. These include lack of funding, infrastructure etc. As we produce a media product we are also susceptible to piracy and other distribution problems. There are also several sponsorship deals we’ve missed out on due to politics within organisations. 

Please click here to  ...continue reading

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A lot of what what we do these days is inspired by our ancestors. 

I found the picture on the left over 2 years and was amazed at how the style had been translated into something modern. I am pretty certain that our modern girl did not use palm oil and charcoal on her hair, thus the softer, more temporary style.

Another interesting point is that the style on the left supposedly denoted high status - not just any Igbo maiden would rock this style. Now, just about anyone can rock it. 

Of course, the fact that the lady from the 19th century was Igbo drew my attention. Especially as we appear to be learning this style now from African Americans and not our mothers directly. (Before I am shot down for being politically incorrect, I do know that there are African Americans of Igbo descent - not trying to make a political statement here).

Is there any ancient beauty practice you know of that has found its way down to our generation? 

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I had a baby about 8 years ago. After the baby, my stomach was quite dark, which was alarming as the rest of my body remained fair complexioned.  I was pretty certain nothing would ever remove that color. Also, like Kate Middleton has shared with us, I had a slight bump as a leftover from the pregnancy.

Two weeks later, the bump and the dark color were gone. My stomach was flat (even flatter than it is now, 8 years on).

I am going to attribute this to genetics as well as the care I was given post pregnancy by my mother. In Igbo tradition, it is called omu gwo. She “bathed” me, cooked for me and helped care for my baby so as to give me some time to rest/recover and acclimatize myself to motherhood.

Again, this is one of the things that I think our ancestors did right. I am sharing my experience today in case there is anyone out there that may benefit from it.

During bath time, my mother would literally slap my stomach with a towel that had been dipped in almost scorching hot water. To say that it was a labor of love on her part is to grossly understate it. The water was always so hot that she would barely be able to hold the towel in her hand while she wringed some of it out before slapping and then rubbing my stomach down with it. Yet, she did this twice a day for over a week. I would then be made to sit on a sitz bath. We used only hot water but some people add beneficial herbs like Eucalyptus leaves.

My meals were typically yam pepper soup also known in Igbo as ji mmiri oku, or Ofe Nsala/White Soup soup with pounded yam. The soups were cooked with a blend of spices that would were specially chosen for new mothers. They are Uziza ,Ehuru and Uda (these are Igbo names, more information below). These are purported to help flush any lochia out. *This is very important as any lochia that remains in the body after a certain amount of time may cause puffiness in the face and legs.

Uda

Source

I did not have much of an appetite (plus I am not a big fan of yam) so I would usually have the peppersoup ( mmmiri oku) or the Ofe Nsala and not the yam itself. On reflection, I suspect that this helped to keep my weight down.

Ehuru - Calabash Nutmeg

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The one part of the “treatment” that I did not follow was using a wrapper to tie my stomach down in order to flatten it. My mum asked me to do so but I would always take it off whenever she went to work as it gave me a back ache. If you choose to do this, please know that I have heard a lot of people claim that doing so left them with folds on their stomach as the wrapper never really stays 100% flat against the stomach and since the stomach is still soft and somewhat malleable after birth, it would follow the bumps and creases formed by the wrapper. This is of course anecdotal; I have no scientific evidence tying the wrapper leads to any folds in the stomach.

Do you have any local tips for post pregnancy care?

Resources

*Pg 125, Chapter II.16, You and Your Health by Elizabeth Kafaru

Uziza (use seeds and leaves) - piper guineense – West African Pepper

Ehuru (use seeds) - Monodora myristica – Calabash Nutmeg

Uda (use seeds) - xylopia aethiopica – African Negro Pepper (huh? right?)

21 Comments

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4aDYwx2P-Go

We came across this video while out and about on the interweb. Fascinating stuff. Apparently the same people that said that red palm oil was bad for us are now saying that it is actually good for us.

A lot of Africans had actually cut this oil out from their diet because it was deemed to be a bad fat which would build up bad cholesterol. Now we are told that it can reduce bad cholesterol by 40% in a month.

The most interesting part of the video to us was how it was incorporated into meals...as a replacement for butter on bread and in oats? Amazing!

Looking forward to reading the new journal articles covering this new research. When we know more, you will know more. 

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Nothing against KFC, they just happen to be the only fast food restaurant I have been to, somewhat consistently, in a long long time.

On summer holiday with my daughter, we went shopping and after a few hours had to stop to get something to eat. KFC was the closest place and it had the added advantage of being a place she knew so we popped in for a meal.

Our food was placed on a tray with this paper cover.

KFC in Reading, UK. Please click to enlarge so that you can read it properly.

On our return to Nigeria, our local KFC handed us our meals with this paper tray cover. ( I take my daughter to KFC about once a month or once every 6 weeks as a "treat". I need to rethink that.)

KFC in Lagos, Nigeria. Please click to enlarge

Can you spot the difference? I know you can but I will still summarize.

KFC UK

KFC Nigeria

  • Lighter Options like Grilled Chicken
  • Not available
  • Offers a no-salt option for chips/French fries. You add salt to your chips if you want it.
  • Not available - Chips/French fries come salted
  • Cooking oil has been changed. No trans-fat
  • Not available. I also have to put here that their chicken is quite oily. I have had crispy and classic.
  • There are vegetables available as side dishes
  • No vegetables available as side dishes

 

I may have gone on but unfortunately (for the purpose of this post, not my health) I do not go to KFC often enough to know a lot more about their menu.

You may have some questions now, I am going to assume that you will ask these 3:

What does KFC Nigeria offer us? Fresh ingredients (arguable, really) and real cooks.

How do you know that they are not offering the same thing as KFC UK? If a company is not telling you what they are doing for you, it is safe to assume that they are not doing it. It is in their best interest to draw you in with a healthy menu. In this case, their silence says a lot. See how they advertised it in the UK KFC? Every single customer that gets a tray is told how KFC is looking out for them health-wise. It is important that they do that as it helps them attract and retain customers.

Why are we not getting the same treatment as those in the UK? The simple reasons are that we are not asking for it as consumers and our governmental regulatory bodies do not demand it of the companies that sell food and drink items to us.

It is expensive for any company (in this case, KFC) to undertake any changes from their original plan. The cost of changing cooking oils in the UK must have set them back quite bit but they would have had no choice as either the government or the people have demanded healthier food. Remember that in the UK they have begun to suffer obesity and obesity-related illnesses as well as other illnesses that have been linked to unhealthy diet or have been exacerbated by one (e.g hypertensive individuals have no business consuming a lot of salt). The stakes are quite high, because the people there are now more AWARE. 

In Nigeria, it would appear that we are waiting for Obesity (which is here actually), obesity related diseases and other illnesses linked to badto become really bad before we take action. This is in keeping with our tradition of being Reactive rather than Proactive.

Bonus question.

What can I do? Decide on how important eating healthy is to you. KFC is being upfront about who they are. You should be upfront about what is important to you. Vote for a healthier meal with your money. Verbally tell the staff what changes you are looking for. If enough people mention it, change will come. KFC is here to make money, not lose customers. 

Lastly, become more AWARE. 

23 Comments

A reader left a comment on this post about how an American company (Ojon) based its product line on Palm Oil  because they have discovered that it is really beneficial to hair and skin. My interested was piqued and I wanted to find out more. 

I went over to the Ojon website and was a bit confused when I started reading about a "golden elixir" "500 year old tradition". They described the indigenes of the place where this elixir was made this way: "They all had remarkably healthy, shiny hair." It made their "skin ... radiant, smooth and supple".

The process for making this elixir was described here and as I read it, I realized what it really was. Apparently, despite recognizing its benefits even Ojon hasn't named it right. It is Palm Kernel Oil and not Palm Oil.

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I have processed Palm Oil from Palm Nuts for my local homemade Ofe Akwu (Palm Nut Soup). I have also had the pleasure of cracking palm kernel nuts (we ate them as a snack) in my grandma’s village house when I was much younger so I know what is what. What Ojon has in its products is not Palm Oil. I have explained the difference before in this post

Reading how they described Palm Kernel oil, making it sound uber exotic highlighted the fact that we really need to sit up and start valuing what we have in this country. Now that Ojon has caught on to the fact that Palm Kernel Oil is really good for hair and skin, the rest of the world will begin to look into it.

That is what happened with Shea Butter. We have had it locally available for eons but at a point started overlooking its importance until foreigners pointed it out to us. Now everyone is back to using Shea Butter and extolling its many benefits. 

I have often said that Palm Kernel Oil is similar to Coconut Oil. The Beauty Brains summarizes it as: The fatty acid distribution of oil obtained from palm nuts is very similar to coconut oil and can be used in place of it with virtually no difference in chemistry.

What more can one say? Use Palm Kernel oil in your hair and skin care. You may benefit greatly from it. Also, if you know the guys at Ojon, please let them know that they can get Palm Kernel Oil for cheap in Nigeria. I can even point them to the sources for free. Lord knows our economy needs it!

As my people would say: Wetin dey for Sokoto, e dey for Shokoto. (What we are looking for far away is actually in our backyard).

Just had to mention: We have had Palm Kernel Oil available in the Ahia for months but most folks don't even ask for it (maybe because of its nutty smell). It is the cheapest oil we have and yet very much overlooked. Hopefully, it won't be for much longer. 

Thank you Ojon!