Mrs Ibinabo Amakiri is a natural hair enthusiast who out of her passion for natural hair abandoned the practice of Law for natural hair business. In April 2015, she opened one of the foremost natural hair salons in Port Harcourt – Fro Nation – to promote natural hair as better option for African women.
Our Deputy Editor (Features) Calista Ezeaku caught up with this proud African woman in her PRA office and she spoke passionately on the gains of wearing natural hair and how to achieve that. Excerpts:
Why did you aban
don Law for natural hair business?
How I normally explain it is that Law is a profession and natural hair and craft is my passion to a point in my life that I decided it was time for me to follow my passion. I’ve been doing Law for 13 years and I felt I could always go back to Law at any time and I decided to venture into my passion. So that led me into starting the natural hair salon. We started in the first week of April 2015.
How has the journey been so far?
Very very interesting. I’m excited because I see it catching on. When it started, it wasn’t very popular. Now natural hair is trending. Many more people are open-minded, accepting that relaxers damage our hair. They now understand that natural hair is the best way to have healthy hair and the best way African hair should be maintained.
Are there advantages of natural hair over relaxed hair?
Natural hair is the way African hair is supposed to be but because we did not understand how to manage it before, everyone turned to relaxer and felt that was a way they could actually handle their hair. But relaxers are chemicals and the problem is that after prolonged application of relaxers, your hair gets damaged. We have hair types which starts from one to four and our natural African hair falls between 3C and 4C. But when you apply relaxer and it straightens the hair, you are taking your 4C kinky, curly hair all the way to type one which is straight like the Europeans’ hair. So your hair actually goes through a lot of pressure to go from 4C kinky, curly hair to type one and with that it weakens. Chemicals weaken the hair and with time it starts getting damaged. But since we now know how to handle our natural African hair, we now know the products, the technique, we know everything we need to put in, it’s now easier to handle and manage.
You often hear women complain about the difficulty in combing it and all that. Why should they be subjected to such pain?
Natural hair in its natural state is wild, hard, strong and untamed, but once you understand that it needs a lot of moisture, you have to ensure that your hair is moisturized at every point in time. And by moisture, I mean water. Water is the first ingredient natural hair needs. Once you put in water, oils, leave-in conditioner and you ensure that you steam your hair regularly, (we call it deep conditioning), then your hair now becomes tamed, it becomes manageable. So it’s basically understanding what you need to put in and the technique of managing it that gets it right.
What are the steps towards going natural?
First of all, it’s a mind set shift. Natural hair is very difficult from relaxed hair. It’s not what you are used to. So I think the first step is making up your mind that with natural hair you have to be hands on and you have to care for your hair if not your hair will get damaged. So it is that mind set shift that your hair is not going to be long and you will not be able to toss it around anymore but that your hair is going to grow big and wild. So embracing that change is the first step. And then, the next step is to stop relaxing your hair. Just stop putting relaxers into your hair and your hair starts growing. We call it transitioning process.
How long does that take?
Normally, I advise that you transition for six to eight months. Your undergrowth would have come out to a considerable level where you are comfortable before chopping off. But some people opt for the big chop and the big chop is you don’t have the time to waste, you want your natural hair to start growing from the root, and so you cut off all your relaxed hair and start your journey afresh.
I have heard women complain that natural hair does not make women look classy and sophisticated like the relaxed hair, what can you say?
For me, I think natural hair is beautiful. I think it’s versatile. I always advise, don’t get stuck in a style rot. Be open-minded and versatile with your hair. We have many styling options. Just ensure your hair is well taken care of, ensure that it doesn’t look unruly and wild and put it into a nice style. We have styles you can do with only your natural hair, like finger curls. We have a lot of options of styling your natural hair. We also have hair styles for career women like up dos. It makes you look very different, pretty and you stand out.
How affordable is natural hair option?
I always say natural hair is as expensive as you want to make it. Why I say so is that there are basic things that you need. The basic things you need are water, oil and shea butter. Those are found within our locality. They are easily affordable and available in the market. We also have a lot of do it yourself mixtures. We call them DIYs. For do it yourself mixs, we use banana, avocado, peas, cocoanut milk. So I feel you can make it as cheap or expensive as you want. As a student or someone on a budget, you can opt for DIY mixtures and the basics. But when you want to push it a notch higher, you can start using the imported products and that is when natural hair becomes expensive because of the cost of bringing these products into the country. But with DIYs and with Nigerian companies now looking inwards and coming up with their own mixtures and brands, it is getting more and more affordable.
Is there any difference between the natural hair and dread lock?
Prior to this new trend, the only way women understood how to carry natural hair in a manageable way was to lock it down and put it into dreadlocks. That’s just a process of palm-rolling the hair and getting the hair infused overtime and matured into locks which they managed. But this new trend of carrying your afro freely, is versatile and different. So I think originally, people were not used to seeing afros without being locked. So once they see natural hair, the next thing is they will say is your hair doesn’t have relaxer in it, okay you have dreadlocks. But I think the situation is gradually changing. People are realizing that there are women who not because of religion, or anything, who are not trying to make a political statement but are just embracing their natural hair that God has given them and have chosen to wear the hair in different ways. Having a free flowing afro is more versatile than locking your hair down because when you lock your hair into dread locks, you basically have your locks and it is almost permanent. But with free flowing afro, you can braid it, you can fix weavon. There are many things you can do with it. You can also straighten your hair.
Can you say that Port Harcourt women are catching up with the trend?
Oh yes! Oh they are! I have been natural for three years now and I remember when I first started I would see people stare at me and I would be like what is wrong? I would check my dressing and I would realise it was my afro. So it was very strange. I had people walk up to me and ask why are you carrying your hair like this? Are you depressed? This is Nigeria. This is not South Africa or Kenya, where they do not know what’s up. IB go and do your hair and all that. I kept telling people my hair was already made. It was unusual then but right now more and more people are going natural. The salon is getting busier than it used to be last year.
Any advice for women that are yet to join the train?
I will advise them to join the natural train. With that, your hair is healthier. It is a very rewarding journey where you get in touch with your root also. We are African women, we are blacks, we are queens. This is how we are meant to be and that is our natural crown. It’s not boring. Once well taken care of, once you understand your regime, what your hair wants and what it doen’st want and know how to handle it, the journey is really, really rewarding. And remember in our old age, I don’t think we will be fixing weavon or braiding our hair. So it is this natural hair that will serve us when we are old. So, my advice is that they should just get curious about what it is all about and take the big step.
World Bank Trains 54,000 Women, Youths On Economy
The Kebbi State Government has disclosed that over 54,000 women and youths have been trained by the World Bank to be economically active.
The government also revealed its readiness to reciprocate its achievement recorded in rice production in other products such as onions, sheer-butter and soya beans for exportation purposes.
The Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, who stated this while launching women and youth export development facility, in partnership with Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), said, the state has comparative advantage in agriculture over other states.
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Umar Babale Yauri, Bagudu said, “As you know, Kebbi State is blessed with a population of women who are engaging in rice production and it is now a top talk across the nation due to efforts and support of state governor.
“The state government is trying to reciprocate the achievement recorded in the rice production into sheer butter, onions and soya beans.”
He added that with the partnership with NEXIM, Kebbi State would start the export of soya beans, shea butter and onions.
The Special Adviser to State Governor on Women Development, Hajia Zarau Wali, disclosed that through partnership with the World Bank, over 54,000 women have been trained to be economically active.
According to her, “It is also worthy of note, that the state government in partnership with the World Bank empowered 54,000 women to be economically active through the formation of Women Initiative Group in Maiyama, Ngaski and Argungu local government areas.”
She explained that more women and youths, especially in the rural areas, are actively involved in the production of rice, sheer butter, onions and water melon stressed that they are capable of feeding the nation and exporting the products if they were properly guided.
Wali urged NEXIM to include in their programmes mode of processing and packages of perishable products during their training session for women and youths.
Earlier, the Managing Director and Chief Executive, Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), Mr Abba Bello, had commended the state government over it investment on rice production in the state which has increased the IGR of the state.
“Let me commend the investment drive in the state by your administration, particularly the Rice Revolution, which recently led to the unveiling of the rice pyramid as well as the cassava-based ethanol project with huge prospects for production of biofuel and renewable energy.
“Your efforts in this direction have not only contributed to the significant increase in the Internally Generated Revenues (IGR) but have also positively impacted the socio-economic indices particularly in the areas of jobs creation and sustainable development”.
Eve Afrique Red Ball Takes Centre Stage In PH, Sunday
This year’s Eve Afrique Red Ball event with theme: “Together, Ensuring Peace and Development Across the Niger Delta”, is set to take place on Sunday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.
In an interview, the Editor in Chief of Eve Afrique Magazine, Mrs Ivy Davis Etokakpan, said, this year’s Red Ball event is the 10th and will focus on the socio-economic wealth of the Niger Delta region.
She stated that, over the years, Eve Afrique had worked on eight health related issues, but this time, because of times and seasons, “we are focusing on peace and development across the Niger Delta.
According to her, “we hope to achieve this with the cooperation of leaders of corporate organisations in the Niger Delta. We believe that with the cause action on the Red Ball, we hope to do that with our Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Eve Afrique Empowerment Initiative”.
Etokakpan added that this year will focus basically on internship programme for young people by asking partners of the NGO to accept and train secondary school students during holidays in their companies.
She said, “in the past, we used to do vacation jobs in the oil companies, even in our parents’ companies. We hope that our partners would teach our children workable skills. If this is done, the Niger Delta child would know his or her skill and work on it.
“We want these young ones to learn management and accountancy skills through these internship programmes. Our dream is that, in five years’ time, we would have raised a group of’ equipped and empowered Niger Delta youths who in turn will mentor those coming after them. We need to prepare these ones for the future.
At the Red Ball event this weekend, we expect Elsphon Nigeria Alabo (Dr) Emi Membrane-Otaji, Managing Director, to present a keynote address on “Economic Development across the Niger Delta. Also, former MD of NDDC, Mr Timi Alaibe will present a paper on Peace Across the Niger Delta at the event”, she said.
It would be recalled that over the years, Eve Afrique Red Ball has achieved levels of successes over the previous Red Ball events in raising awareness on general health matters, empowerment programmes as a way of giving back to the state and society at large.
Eve Afrique had hosted programmes which include the sickle cell awareness programme, cervical cancer awareness and prevention programme, diabetic management awareness and prevention programme, prostate cancer awareness programme and colon cancer awareness programmes.
Eve Afrique had the mandate of changing the narrative concerning the Niger Delta.
They are on a mission to highlight and showcase the beauty of the Niger Delta and Nigeria as a whole, she added.
By: Ibinabo Ogolo
Women’s Health And Wellness
Women and men share many similar health problems, but women have their own health issues, which deserve special consideration.
Women’s lives have changed over the centuries. Historically, life was particularly difficult for most women. Aside from the numerous dangers and diseases, women became wives and mothers often when they were just emerging from their own childhood. Many women had a large number of pregnancies which may or may not have been wanted. In the past, childbirth itself was risky and frequently, led to the death of the mother. Most women in the past did not live long enough to be concerned about menopause or old age.
In 1900, a woman’s life span was about 50 years. Now, in the new millennium, average life expectancy for women is 82 years of age, and it is continuing to rise. Not only are women living longer, but they also can anticipate the possibility of enjoying a better quality of life throughout their span of years. In order to accomplish this, it is essential that women take charge of their own bodies and that they comprehend how they can maximise their personal health and fitness. It is also helpful that men understand and are supportive of the health concerns of the women.
Gynaecology is the primary branch of medical science concerned with women’s health issues. The word “gynaecology” is a word consisting of “gynaeco,” meaning “woman,” and “logic,” meaning “knowledge.” Taken together, it is “woman knowledge.
It is important that every woman has access to knowledge related to the spectrum of women’s health issues, not only about her reproductive system, but about all aspects of her body.
There is credible information available to women, not only on such problems as eating disorders, stress, alcoholism, addictions, and depression, but also on basic topics such as good nutrition, heart health, and exercise. For example, it is beneficial that a woman maintains her optimum weight. If a woman’s waist size measures more than 35 inches (89 cm), she is more likely to develop heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Eating sensible meals, eliminating after-dinner snacks, and making physical activity a part of daily life are significant ways to help control weight and lower the risk of a long list of health problems.
Smoking is detrimental to anyone’s health, as well as the health of those around them. Unfortunately, women continue to smoke despite the known health risks. Even though the number of female smokers is declining, still women continue to smoke.
Women are smoking in spite of the well-publicised risks including cancer, heart disease, and innumerable other health issues.
Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol is also harmful to health. Although women typically begin drinking at a later age than men and tend to drink somewhat less, lower doses of alcohol are required for women to develop alcohol-related medical problems including alcohol toxicity, cirrhosis, and hepatitis.
Women should be aware that they metabolise a number of drugs differently than men. In some cases and for some medications, the rate of metabolism may be slower, and in other cases, faster. It is, therefore, essential that women are well informed about the kinds and correct dosages of any drugs they are taking.
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