"We want to grow our hair"

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I reported to school one morning with nicely braided hair, but my teachers were livid. They warned me to cut it that very day after school or risk having it cut in school if I return with the braids. I was in class one. I felt lonely and dejected the whole of that day after my encounter with the teachers.

Not all the female pupils braided their hair, I think anyone who wanted to, could go ahead. I went to school the next day with my hair cut off. It seemed as if I had been stripped of something. In fact, it was so difficult to walk into the class because I found the situation very humiliating.

I was unhappy for a while, but it became the norm after sometime. My mates and I went to school with our hair cut very low. However, those of us with stubborn kinky hair always struggled with our low-cut hair. We often found ourselves patting it to look nice, running into washrooms every now and then to dress the hair as well as hiding combs in our pockets so we work on our hair at the least opportunity.

This situation of keeping a low-cut hair was mostly in the public schools, from Primary, Junior and even the Senior Secondary schools, but the Basic schools which were private allowed the girls and even some boys who want to keep their hair to do that. Unfortunately, they keep it until they get to Senior Secondary School only to cut it all off even before going to school or be forced to cut it by school authorities. The interesting thing is girls whose parents are expatriates or are Caucasians, Asians, Europeans or Indians were allowed to keep their hair. So, just why was it so wrong for us to keep our hair as people of colour: black/brown/fair/chocolate/light skin girls?

Now, when we are entering the tertiary institutions, most girls start to grow their hair. Of course, at that time, most girls are now adults, who want to look chic, good, have enough hair on their head, look and feel confident and have access to various forms of opportunities. Meanwhile, hair takes a while to grow, so women, older girls now find ways to get enough hair on their head, hence the use of human or artificial/synthetic hair extensions, hair caps or wig caps, perming of the natural hair and braiding with hair pieces.

Generally, the hair can be kept in various ways for various reasons: some for new looks, to protect the natural hair, for the sake of fashion and to have enough time for other things during make up. Others keep short hair due to the nature of their work and ill health including severe headaches, genetics or chemotherapy. Some of the ways our natural hair is kept are;

Unpermed or permed, straightened, curled or texturized
Colouring or dyeing the natural hair whether permed or not
Braiding/locking the natural hair with or without hair pieces
Fixing weave-on or wearing wig caps.

These not withstanding, what is most important to the woman in this case is the amount of hair on her head, how healthy it is, how beautiful it looks and the fact that it’s her own hair. It is more empowering when a woman voluntarily cuts her hair to change her looks or make way for more healthy ones to grow.

Stella Darley Tweneboah

Some things that make a woman confident on her own and in the midst of other women or people for that matter is when she has beautiful, healthy and luscious hair.

There certainly might have been a good reason why African girls in Africa had to cut off or shave off their hairs until they attain adulthood. Meanwhile, their peers elsewhere grow theirs right from childhood for life.

Lately, the campaign to grow one’s hair is surging. Some young ladies and entrepreneurs in Ghana are venturing into hair products of all kinds for various types of African hair and I think that if we are made and allowed to keep our natural hair from childhood, these local companies will receive high patronage, to eventually enter the global market.

In our attempt to establish women for leadership roles, we must begin by allowing them to make their own decisions. We should cut our hair only because we find and understand the need to cut and shape it to get a new look. Never should a female growing her natural hair be made to cut it as a form of punishment or someone else’s decision. #WeWantToGrowOurHair

Cc: Ghana Education Service, Ministry of Education; Minister and Deputy Minister of Education, The President of Ghana, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo, All Ghanaian entrepreneurs into hair products production, Hair Stylists, all Advocates of the keeping, growing and nurturing of the natural hair. All persons who are deciding to start nurturing and growing their own hair.