“YOU CAN’T GROW YOUR HAIR OUT UNTIL UNIVERSITY”
I was conditioned to think this way as a child. I never questioned once why I wasn’t allowed to keep it before then. As I grew older I noticed the absurdity of it. I clearly remember wishing to plait my hair as a child.
Wasn’t an African’s woman’s hair her crown? So why did I have to cut it all in the name of looking kempt?
I dug deeper and the conclusion I came to was that it’s a living relic of our dark past, slavery and colonization. When I asked my parents why I had to cut my hair, I never got an answer that made complete sense. My dad used to say having my hair short made me look nice and like a lady. My mum said when my hair grew too much it looked bushy.
BUSHY???? This word…I don’t know exactly how this word came into connection and tight relation with our hair. Moreover, the way this word is used tarnishes the image of our hair.
I’ll admit that hair is a touchy subject for me because I have unwillingly had it cut several times as I was growing up in the name of decorum. I remember crying in the barbershop when I was younger and I know I’m not alone in this. All my classmates feel the same way and I mean all of them. Both secondary school and JHS.
There is a difference between deciding to cut your hair and being told you had to cut all of your hair because the natural way your hair grows out of your head is unacceptable oh but oh, we’ll definitely make an exception for half casts who took pity on us and decided to attend the school.
I once did a survey online and a friend of mine boldly told me they don’t allow half casts to cut their hair because their hair does not grow fast and so they should be allowed to keep it… Ermm sis… ever heard of “brenya?”
Well, all I can say to this is, the indoctrination is deep and as much as this enrages me, I know a lot of people think this way and I can’t just reach into all their minds and turn that switch off.
Let me talk about a horrible experience I witnessed while in Aburi Girls. It was my first year of SHS, I was part of the first batch to experience the double track system.
I endured the months and soon we had a day left to go home for the holidays.
As you can imagine, most of the students applied treatments(coozer) to their hair to ensure they grew enough before they went home so as to feel confident to attend any events they had in line or just for the sake of it, it’s their hair after all.
Beforehand, the form threes were all forced to get their hair chopped off because according to the school mistresses, they were beginning to look inappropriate and they couldn’t go home with their hair for christmas.
You don’t have to take a wild guess to know that a lot of them were going to try and escape this.
It’s a pity this is where we still are as a country. Continuing to blindly shave away the dignity of most girls all in the name of following protocol. A protocol set by those whose sole aim was to undermine us over and over again. Still they do, and you don’t have to look very far, just a look outside your window would be enough.
Eventually we were all gathered for the closing assembly in the evening. We sang our colonial songs and said our colonial prayers.
We were excited to leave the memorization and cleaning camp that we called school. Who could blame us?
Then I heard the words, “All final year students, stay behind.”
The headmistress herself proceeded to carry out this process. What did they call it?
Ah yes.. Depunking.
I had heard of it before, but I did not know what it meant till that day.
The headmistress with her pair of scissors, haphazardly chopped of the hair of whichever student she saw fit. How is this normal in our public schools? As an African, she should be ashamed of herself, can’t she see the girls just want to grow their crowns?
There was so much buzz around the school that evening. We all wanted to see the faces of the victims. We could feel their spirits were crushed and they were shy to show their faces as well.
I wonder what they told their parents the next day. Their parents probably reprimanded them for not shaving their hair.
Some people argue that if girls in public schools are allowed to keep their hair, they won’t concentrate in class.
Others stress that taking care of hair wastes time and it is more convenient to cut it.
Some say the student should never look prettier than the teacher
Some others say, if girls are allowed to keep their hair, they will be affected by other students who don’t practice proper hygiene in their hair.
Have you noticed that all these excuses have something in common?
They are stupid.
If topics discussed in class are interesting enough, the students wouldn’t be paying attention to their hair. Moreover, I’m sure you won’t be able to count how many females have gotten a first-class in university, and don’t tell me they’ve all cut their hair because you and I both know it’s only a few of them.
If taking care of hair wastes time, it is the responsibility of the authorities to structure an educational system around the personal lives of the students so that they can have enough time for their hair and other matters… It’s as simple as that.
I cannot stress this topic enough, I am currently growing out my hair and thankfully it’s before university. Thank you mom and dad for giving me this gift, even if you didn’t mean to, it means a lot to me.
I hope one day we come to our senses as a nation and continue to address the problems that continue to affect what was once an organized society.