I will remain loyal to my natural African hair

Natural hair proponent, Rumbidzai Musuna-Munochiveyi, navigates the landmine-riddled subject of human hair extensions versus natural African hair.

I wear my own hair - Rumbidzai Musuna-Munochiveyi
Natural hair aficionado – Rumbidzai Musuna-Munochiveyi

An Asian lady sent me a message, via my Facebook page, For Us Natural Hair Divas, to ask if I could advertise her hair products. Now I get these a lot, so nothing unusual. Only, she’s selling human hair. You know the very expensive kind. The real-real ones. Remi, Brazilian, I don’t know…all I know is it’s really someone’s hair, so it is so pricey. Prices are upwards of US$250, or in some cases US$300, a pack, I’m told.

Even if I was interested in wearing human hair extensions, I decided at a very young age that I cannot afford them, would never afford them and therefore would never buy them.

But I also wondered about her guts to come to a page filled with black women who are collective saying we are trying to wear our own hair; her guts to come and sell these women Asian human hair extensions. Or did she not just have the presence of mind to care about that? I don’t know.

Of course, I was polite to her and kept declining the offers. But she seemed a little taken aback by my lack of interest in her hair. To end it all, so we didn’t keep going back and forth, I said, “I wear my own natural hair, and do not add human hair to it, like you, perhaps?”

I mean, the woman is wearing her own hair. And she wants to sell me her kind of hair. Hair that was harvested from someone like her. And I politely say I’d rather wear mine. It is way shorter than hers. it is way knottier than hers. Doesn’t have the smooth silky shine like hers. But like her, I actually love mine too. I love all those things that mine is. And that is a little hard for her to take in?

Why is it so hard for her to accept that I do not want her kind of hair? And that I do not want to help her sell it?

And I couldn’t care how anyone else wears her hair. Different strokes for different folks. Each to her own.

But there’s one thing I care about. It’s a simple statistic:

Who benefits from human hair

Africans alone, spend more than $5 billion dollars on human hair every year. ($6 billion if we add synthetic hair sales). More than $5 billion! Yep! Africa, a continent with more than 40% of its population living below the poverty datum line. (That should help us imagine how even the middle class is faring on average). And almost all of that hair comes from Asia. And we don’t even get a nswii of the pie, on this $5 billion. We don’t.

We are not talking about Africans living abroad, African-Americans, and all the other black people around the world. I think if we added those other numbers the total figure would nauseate some of us to eternal voluntary baldness.

And White women spend about half of what black women spend on their hair. So let’s not say ” oh it’s a woman thing, even white people, this that, this that…”

No, we are alone on this one!

Now, one more thing. Just one more…

I can bet on my last penny, that there is no other race that would be caught dead wearing hair that was harvested off a black woman’s head. Oh that I’m willing to bet on!

So no, I will not be an agent of the +$5 billion Asian human hair industry. Nada! Not for anything!

I can’t!

Different strokes for different folks

I respect everyone’s choices. Like I said above. I know of many women’s struggles with hair, women who really need something more than their own natural hair. I’m aware of alopecia, hair loss due to cancer, and other medical conditions that make it necessary for some women to get other kinds of hair to add on, or to cover theirs. And I am very sympathetic to all this. And would never go online to intentionally shame them, including, some of my friends. I would never stoop to that level.

But I am also so, so sick of the magnitude of this human hair business. It is appalling. Unforgivable! There are people exploited, left, right, and centre, for this industry to make these billions each year.

Weaves, natural hair – I respect all

And I don’t mind synthetic hair. I don’t mind that we add hair to ours. The heck I wouldn’t even mind this kind of human hair much if it were sold on our terms. If things were fair. If no one was exploited for it. Besides, braiding and adding extensions to a woman’s hair is a very African concept. It is something we have done for centuries, an art we are proud of. But we mustn’t allow anyone to exploit us.



Rumbidzai is passionate about Zimbabwe, natural black hair and African identity. She is a mother, a wife and writer whose work appears in Newsday, Munyori and other publications. Find her on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/forusnaturalhairdivas/ and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/For-Us-Natural-Hair-Divas-FUNHD-238628676160644/

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