All the way HERE for melanin!

Exactly a week ago a friend and I did that thing likers of things do but really shouldn’t – we had a mid-week jam. Granted it was only a few hours, so it was a mini jam, but it was a jam nonetheless. But we went because we needed to break the monotony of our week, the running to and from work, to class, to dream-mapping in the twilight hours, to work again and and and round and round again in that grind that grinds you to a halt if you don’t rise above it. We needed a reminder that:

My first reaction when I saw the invite for The Feminist Stokvel’s Hair Soiree was, “Yes!” I love the acknowledgement of our context in the word “stokvel”. To me that pays homage to the way in which Black women have resisted The Racist Project’s erosion of their mental, spiritual, emotional well-being for decades now. There has been some effort to understand its importance in South Africa as a means by which Black Women support each other financially etc, but the stokvel as a site of resistance and organising in Black communities is under-theorised. The stokvel is about sisterhood, and sisterhood is still powerful. I love that this group of eight amazing women has come together to give other sisters an opportunity, a feminist space; to breathe, to rage, to gather. That act of gathering is a powerful slap in the face of The Racist Project’s hench(lynch)-men who have sought to first divide, then conquer us. Not today!

Minaj

I walked away thinking, “Damn, there’s a lot I don’t know about my ‘fro”. I also walked away saying, “Yass! I love my gravity defying hair. I love my skin.” Which is important to remind myself, because:

Because I am more than what we have been through. When we gather, we are affirmed. We are informed. We are safe.

And, WE ARE HERE. We cannot be erased. We refuse to be.

Yours in slayage,

Dusty Soul

“Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke . . . She will need her sisterhood.” – Gloria Steinem

*Head on over to https://twitter.com/feministstokvel if you wanna know more about what went down that night, what was said, what they’re about. Xxx

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Lessons from my hair (Part 2): The revenge of the Afro

Tlotlo and Tsepo

“Men who have long hair are a disgrace. Women with long hair are beautiful. Long hair is a woman’s crown of glory…” So go the words of the Apostle Paul in a letter to a church in Corinth.

Some theologians have argued that Paul’s words were said not to marginalise women, but to encourage them to separate themselves from being identified along with the prostitutes of the city. Others have dismissed his statement as chauvinist advice meant to advance the standing of men in the Christian church.

Either way, Paul’s letter reveals some attitudes that people have towards certain hairstyles.

Tlotlo Daly

You see, some hairdos are associated with certain behaviour because in many social groups, a specific hairstyle is required in order to be considered a part of the group, or to create a sense of solidarity amongst members.

For some people, such as my good friend Mathabo Tlali, hair is a way of making sure they are not considered part of a certain group.

“I was debating with myself about how I feel enslaved by societies view of ‘beauty’, and began to question why I’m not confident when I have natural hair as opposed to having a weave or anything that’s not ‘naturally me’,” Tlali says.

Mathabo Tlali (Photo by Ettione Ferreira)

Growing up, her mother was the sole chooser of her hairstyles, but with age she began to realise that for her, beauty did not have to just be a weave or relaxed hair.

“I began loathing that superficial notion,” she explains. Tlali has a natural crop and maintains that for her, changing her hairstyle was a freeing process.

My afro is an expression of the decision that I’ve made to embrace a different kind of beauty. To stand outside of people’s expectations and look to God for my mandate. Being different often scares us because stepping out of the norm is risky. But we must step out, we must be true to who we are.

 

 

 

Left to right: Matsie (beautiful), Dusty Soul, Sbosh (http://sboshlestar.tumblr.com/)

Some days I am that girl on campus with the lopsided afro, walking around looking like Frumpy Fred, and I’m still happier than ever. At that moment I smile because I’ve chosen to embrace who I am, flaws and all.

And so to add to the lessons that my hair has taught me, I must say: I am dark.  I stand out. I am not always accepted. I am an Afro, and I am beautiful, either way.

Yours,

Dusty Soul

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 (King James Version)

Lessons from my hair (Part 1): The rise of the Afro

I’d forgotten how tough the kinks in my hair can be. So now I was in front of the mirror, fighting with the knots in my afro and cursing my nappy head for giving me such grief so early in the morning. I was about to give up, when God used my hair to remind me a few things that I can learn about myself. 

 I’m not shaped like the rest. I am black, round, lumpy, hard, soft, resilient, tough. I am an Afro. 

Getting wet doesn’t always deter me. It just reveals a different side of me. Embrace the many facets of my being, because I am an Afro. 

Today you push me up into a round sun right on top of your head, tomorrow you twist me to suit your mood, but my texture remains the same. No matter how you choose to see me today, I’ll always be an Afro.

To know me, you must feel me, spend time with me, and travel the pathways of my head. I am an Afro. 

The lovely Busi Mavuso

I don’t mind the parts of me I’ve lost to the floor. There’s more where that came from. I am an Afro. 

Don’t underestimate how far I can stretch/go. I am an Afro. 

So you need a little patience when handling me. Bear with me though, I am raw… I am an Afro. 

 

 

 

 

 

I am an Afro. You’ve tried to pull me apart, but watched me RISE instead. 

Today, I will approach life with the same stubbornness. Hello world.

Morongoa Masebe (a.k.a. Afroetic Wisdom)

Afroetic Wisdom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have added a video of Maya Angelou’s poem “And still I rise”, because one more thing my hair has taught me, is that I should be resilient and rise in the face of being pushed, pulled, and stretched around. Enjoy.  

Yours,

Dusty Soul