WELCOME Tsokung naturals!
I have been receiving questions on my facebook inbox on how to go natural, from my Botswana natural hair enthusiasts! I am excited to inform you all guys that I will be starting a Botswana-conditions-guided natural hair care series advice posts for you all ,yeaah! Even if you are not based in Botswana, you can benefit from one or two things or simply learn something about Botswana, so be sure to stick around and enjoy. Please be sure to comment below or DM me on Instagram/facebook @tsokungwoman on topics that you will love me to talk about .
On this series I will be sharing tips on how to continue nourishing your natural hair while based in Botswana. We aim for a healthy, moisturized, less knotty, less tension on hair with healthy hairline or edges. We address the basics , remember most of the time we are on a budget, and that means DIY (Do It Yourself!) I will be pleased to have you ladies get all involved and engaged on this series and let us learn from each other.
First on this intro, Let’s do a little bit of history and knowing our hair better:
I am not a historian but when we read on history of Africa, it tells us that the San bushmen are the first inhabitants of Africa, which means that If you are African by birth or descent, you and I descended from the San bushmen. This means that we carry similar genes regardless of how we look like.
Let’s get a little bit academic, don’t blame me, our society trained us to be academics;
One research study by Winkler and Christiansen (1993) compared the san with the Kavango ( Bantu ethnic group that resides on the Namibian side of the Namibian–Angolan border), they studied body hair growth of the san bushmen, they described the bushman’s scalp hair as like-peppercorns“. This is because the hair was coily and very short,(it grows though) they continued to explain that , the findings of their study show that;
compared with the Kavango the San are characterized by a conspicuous uniformity concerning their weakly developed body hair(this study was talking about all body hair including abdominal/chest/pubic/facial/beard etc). They mentioned that this trait system is expressed very differently in the Kavango, who show much wider variation and stronger hair growth.
I know you might be thinking, why are we not exactly the same as the San bushmen then, if we have descended from them? -Well, guess what, the changes are all brought about by the environmental changes .Here is an explanation:
The relative hairlessness of the San can be interpreted as an important constituent of adaptation to the climate of the Kalahari, as it improves their system of heat exchange (Nurse et al., 1985). Different modes of subsistence in the same climate need different types of physical adaptation to thermal stress and of energy utilization.While the Kavango make their living by horticulture and fishing, the San are hunters and gatherers often walking long distances in the heat when chasing an animal.
Well, incase you haven’t figured out where I am going with this, I am interested in this concept “The environment influences the effect brought by the genes”. Well , since I descended from the man whose hair is coily-peppercorn-like to survive the dry conditions, what if I modify my environment ? Let us elaborate more on what the word environment means, in this concept; Climate=water(external and internal intake)or humidity including the heat/sun radiation, diet (remember the San ate lots of meat and wild vegetables/fruits) . Well let us now modify these conditions one by one;
Botswana’s climate is a semi-arid (half dry) climate with less-reliable seasonal rainfall meaning that it is hot and dry most of the time. We know that Botswana is home to the Kalahari desert as well as the greener pastures with perennial rivers up-north.Now we know that the sun’s radiation is of no good to any body cells including hair cells, In terms of dry conditions, we do not want our hair to coil-up completely like our San ancestors used to, to conserve moisture. We want to make sure that even though Botswana can be dry, we introduce an abundant amount of moisture to our hair. We need to care for our hair and protect it very well that it doesn’t have to hide away that much. Understand me well, the genetic information of our hair’s tendency to hide away is still there, but we want to modify it by changing the environment to be different from the one that this genetic information was formed under(Kalahari desert maybe , hundreds of years ago), we don’t need a chemistry lab though, we will use what we know is safe. We all know that for so many years ,the target has been to change our hair , by using chemical relaxers, heat etc, but now we know better, we do not want to change our hair to make it straight, but we want to change our hair’s environment (Our hair practices), my body does not have to reserve moisture for the survival of my vital organs, like of my ancestors, hence keeping my hair tightly coiled and short-peppercorn-like, now my hair can take up as much moisture as it can for its own survival and nourishment for naturally boosted growth.
Practices to combat effects of Botswana climate:
Stop the chemicals and reduce direct heat: Direct heat damages our hair and it breaks.There are so many chemicals that influence our hair in the hair-care industry. But basically, we are worried about the chemical relaxers. If you want to keep your hair natural and you have relaxed hair, you got two options:
Big chop; The big chop means cutting all your hair and re-growing your hair in it’s natural state fresh from the start.
Transitioning to natural; means stopping the chemical relaxers and then trimming off completely all the weak relaxed ends once you have the new growth, most people trim those ends at 3-6months post-relaxer, I transitioned in 2013 and I trimmed my relaxed hair-ends after 6months.
wash ; washing our hair is a great and the most efficient way of introducing moisture directly onto our hair, and this should be as frequent as once in 4 days or atleast 7days depending on your hair needs.This way we also clear the scalp , a clean scalp has improved blood circulation, respiration and growth is promoted.
Moiturise; since our hair needs moisture almost everyday but we can’t wash that frequent, we need to apply a water based product that can stay on our hair introducing water to penetrate the hair shaft. This is a moisturizer!!! Our bestfriend.These includes leave-in conditioners as well as DIY moisturisers. Regular Deep conditioning and Steaming are all natural hair essentials.
Wrap/cover our hair; Wrapping our hair at night is key to conserve moisture and reduce friction as we toss and turn when we sleep.
Reduce friction and tension; Our hair is likely to be fragile, If it was possible to label it, we will write” handle with care” .It breaks on combing, pulling or even rubbing against something e.g hat, pillow, blanket etc. this hair needs a non-friction imposing material such as a silk scarf.Tension occurs during braiding and combing as well, There is no measurement in numbers yet, for the amount of tension to apply to your hair, but it is recommended to highly reduce as much as you can, Use your fingers instead of combs, manipulate wet hair, etc
Eat well/balanced diet; our hair grows very well when we have sufficient intake of vitamins and minerals ,as well as protein, so a balanced diet will modify some of the ancestral traits of our hair. We know that the San diet was dominated by meat, they also had wild fruits and vegetables as well, which was healthy, it is just that their climate was harsh and dry with very little water intake most of the times. So intake of fruits, vegetables, protein, as well as fish will be the diet basics we need to keep our hair healthy. DRINK LOTS OF WATER!! This is what our ancestors did not have…regular lots of water intake.
What is important to know about my hair?
Well, we need to know how much water can our hair take or lose in a given amount of time , so that we can understand the moisture needs of our hair. Most of us in the tightly coiled category that the Americans call it type 4 hair, have low porosity, but hey everyone differs depending on their environment influences. If for example ,you find that your hair is high porosity in the semi-arid Botswana, then this will mean that the hair moisture needs will be increased, the frequency of moisturizing will be at least more than one time in a day.
Please comment and let me know your thoughts on this series, what you would want me to discuss or elaborate more next-time ,or what works best for your hair and state what climate you are living in.
Thanks for stopping by, Until next time;