I didn’t choose the loc’d life; it chose me.
I hated getting my hair braided. In primary school, I would always tell the hairdresser to braid a maximum of about twelve cornrows so that I could spend the least time possible on the dressing chair, contorting myself in a variety of awkward positions to allow her to do her job efficiently. The only downside to this decision was that my hair didn’t always look neat for very long. During the school holidays I would wear my hair in twists for two reasons only; they were easy to get done and even easier to take down. As time went by, my preference to wear twelve cornrows went down to ten cornrows and ultimately dwindled down to eight, getting messier and messier, much to my mother’s dismay. She eventually gave me an ultimatum; “cut your hair or relax it”. Without much convincing, I opted for the latter.
At first, my hair thrived in its relaxed state. I retained length better than ever before and today, I am convinced that if I gave it the proper consistent care, it would have been much healthier. However, I would only wash my hair every two weeks and leave it to its own devices, doing absolutely nothing else, no styling, nothing. Call me a minimalist. This habit lasted until February, last year. As most Kenyan school girl’s end-of-holiday routine, I decided to braid my hair in preparation for a new school term. While sitting in a plastic chair in Kenyatta market with about three gossiping women standing over me and six hands, tugging, pulling and braiding the hair on my tender scalp, I came to the realization that this was not what I wanted to do ever again…ever. Two months later, the tedious process of taking down the braids only enlivened this realization.
While sitting in a plastic chair in Kenyatta market with about three gossiping women standing over me and six hands, tugging, pulling and braiding the hair on my tender scalp, I came to the realization that this was not what I wanted to do ever again…ever.
At about the same time that I believe what was my awakening happened, my sister’s (she is truly a figure of inspiration when it comes great hair care) boyfriend was locing his hair. I relaxed my hair again but toyed around with the idea of getting my own hair locd. Locing my hair was a very easy decision to make. Caring for my hair always left me feeling so weary, like I was a constant journeyer, with no state of permanence. The order of the day was to relax it, struggle to comb out any new growth, braid, unbraid and relax again. It didn’t add up or seem to be worth it.
Caring for my hair always left me feeling so weary, like I was a constant journeyer, with no state of permanence.
As an interlude I will share just a few things I wish I would have known before attempting to getting my hair locd:
1. Relaxed hair does not loc well( or at all sometimes). Wait for new growth
2. The loc journey is a long and tiresome one
3. I should have done more research and sought advice on lock types and sizes
Two weeks after relaxing my hair, I went to a salon that specializes in locs. They twisted my hair with a gel and proceeded to twist wool -yes you read that right- wool, into my hair! This, they said would enhance the locing process. You can only imagine my shock and confusion. But new and ignorant to all this, I obliged. I must have had this in for a couple of months before I realized that my hair wasn’t locing, at all. My frustration hit the roof soon enough and I took out the twists. I can’t even think about that experience without getting rightfully frustrated. And to think that he took a day and a half days to do that nonsense!
I eventually found out about a lady who crochets hair well( crotcheting locs refers to using small crochet hooks to work interlocking hair to form locs. The various techniques used are collectively called “crocheting”). Said lady did what previously mentioned hairdresser could not do properly in three hours. I appreciated her work and know she did her best but I did not like the look of locs on relaxed hair so I chopped large lengths of my hair, and I was left to get acquainted with short coils of what was my natural hair texture. The baby locs I had been trying to escape eventually caught up with me. I soon stopped visiting a stylist and started twisting my locs on my own. I was not willing to pay for a professional retwist every two weeks for choosing to wear a low maintenance style. I now twist my own locs every fortnight or so.
I’m still figuring what works for my hair and I think that this is an important journey. Sometimes I get so frustrated by this little-loc stage that I want to take it all out. You see, whether you get locs because you’re ‘lazy’ or for the aesthetic, the process at some point becomes a very personal one. It becomes personal when you have to deal with flakes from dried blended aloe concoctions, it becomes personal when your hair gets pasty because of a bad styling products or when don’t feel that great looking, it becomes so personal that you find ways to build perseverance and persistence to keep going despite how your new look and routine affects how you feel. And believe me; one really begins to value inner beauty more when one has little spikes on one’s head. So respect to all baby-locers out there, keep on keeping on!
one really begins to value inner beauty more when one has little spikes on one’s head
– Wanjiru Thioti
Wanjiru Thoiti is a guest contributor at AJANI Handmade and a first year student at the University of Cape Town. She is passionate about nature and all things African. In her free time she enjoys catching up over conversations with friends.