I am from Togo and lived in a village where I schooled for 10 years and girls were not allowed to braid their hair. The main reason for that law was that girls’ hair could be distracting to boys, teachers and the girls themselves, also, a waste of time. Like my father will say: “Instead of you spending those hours doing your hair, you could better be reading your lessons or book”
But guess wha?, I remember some girls, daughters or nices of our headmasters coming to school with their hair thread braided; especially when they came from the city. They looked so cute, while I looked at myself as ugly girl. Sometimes, they had to joint the group of short hair, cut hair girs group. This made me lose myself esteem. It was like these girls, not only were they from the city, they also had they hair done, their school uniform were made in the city and even their cooking were better than ours. Everything about them was better than we from the village. I was sometimes jalous but there was no way I could change things or be like them at that time. So I learned to teach myself that I could be like them one day when I finish my education. I could only express through my assiduity in school and hard work at home as in school. I respected everyone except for those who abused of my naivety me. I could speak for myself for things that I thought I could correct or work to adjust. A lot of things made me retort into my shell praying to be saved one day by God. In the elementary school, we were so young so the hair do was not really our problem. In the secondary and high school, the rule of girls should not braid, and over all not do their hair like it is done nowadays , was still on. It was ok with me because not only did I not have the time, I did not have the money to have my hair done. Although back then, I could have somebody do it for free. Remember that I did not have my self –esteem and I was always afraid of asking somebody. I really was not a big deal. I did not care. All I wanted was to make sure I had soap to wash my clothes and take my bath. Really this article is about girls ‘hair according to the laws of my country and myself –esteem. So in the secondary or middle school and high school, I continued without hair do. The girls who had longue hair have had their hair cut by the headmaster of the school or the teacher, supervisor of the week because they had refused to have it cut before coming to school. It was not done suddenly do. We were told, given some weeks or days to cut our hair before coming back to school.
I had seen girls in my high school who had chemically altered hair their during the week-end starting from Friday, had styled it any how they wanted on Saturday, Sunday and put it in ban, pony tail with one kind of braid and tucked into the hair kind like on Buntu knot for Monday thru Friday morning. Sometimes they had braided their hair in flat twists or cornrows. Let me assure you that this was not any kind of girl who would do this. These girls were the tough one, girls that will not listen to any teacher’s recommendations or law. They could still do what they wanted and will not mind be sent home or ask to leave the class for that period of the time. Some teachers were very strict and others were not. The third group of teachers had some personal issues with some girls. Sot they treated them accordingly. Some class mats quieted school once asked to leave the class and never came back. Their hair meant a lot to them. I could let go my hair do, finish my education and then do whatever I wanted with my hair. That was that I did after graduating from high. I got my first hair relaxer in August 1990 and had to cut my hair before going back to school in October because of the burns and damages.
So if today, a Nigerian girl says that She will not go natural with her hair because she will be considered uncivilized, I thought so too. That is while I continued trying to chemically treat my hair until I learn to take care of hair in Cosmetology school where I discovered that there was one ingredient in relaxers, (I can remember the name now, but will do if need), that was also used in depilatory products.” a cosmetic preparation used to remove the hair from the skin on the human body”
Using Perm, relaxer in my hair, braiding it with extensions was really a way to show that I was now civilized. Using perms, relaxers in my hair was not supposed to be a burden on me if I and my hairdressers knew what to use, how to us it and I how to really care for my hair and scalp on a daily basis.