Anyone who has eaten Ga kenkey from Accra will attest to the fact that it’s not the same here in Kumasi. Trust me, I almost gave up on the Kenkey industry here but today I’m rethinking that decision. One kenkey seller just made my evening. Who knows, she might even be a Ganyobi. Anyway I’m not sure if she really is Ga or not but here’s someone I know is Ganyobi for sure. Naa Oyoo Quartey!
Naa is an award-winning Ghanaian Lifestyle blogger. She is also the original creator of #MyKpenkpeshie; a natural hair feature of the everyday Ghanaian woman and her natural hair journey. I’ve learnt a lot from her, and today, her popular hashtag is the inspiration for this post. Thank you Naa!
LET’S MEET SELASSIE.
I’ve known Selassie Mensah for 3 years so she definitely couldn’t “brown” me when I told her about a feature concerning her hair. Selassie is a 3rd year Publishing Studies student at KNUST and a writer for Buck Press Ltd. She plans on making a full-time career out of writing as well as becoming an entrepreneur. She also wants to enter Law school someday.
Here’s an interview I had with her concerning her kpenkpeshie.
B: Selsie, what is your definition for natural hair in the first place?
S: I think natural hair is the kind of hair that has no chemicals added to it. In farmers’ language, it has not been fertilized; nothing has been done to straighten out the hair. So like my hair, it has been allowed to grow without anything added to it.
B: Tell me, what inspired you to go natural?
S: I’d say it was the zeal to be different. You know, after high school, most of my friends couldn’t wait to have their hair retouched, and at that time I hadn’t seen any one go natural. I had retouched hair when I was little and it was cool but this time it was about me not wanting to follow the crowd and just having a different look. That was my inspiration.
B: I have seen your hair personally and I think it grows really fast. How long has it taken to get this volume of hair?
S: Well, it’s been almost two years since I decided to go natural and yeah… you are right about my hair growth.
B: Please spill the beans. How do you keep your hair looking so good?
S: My secret is shear butter. That’s the only product I use. I use it for my hair and my body as well. One thing about having natural hair is the difficulty in combing it but I have a way around that. I plate my hair into four or sometimes five huge sections every night before I go to sleep. Then, when I wake up in the morning, I untangle it. That make it very easy to comb and the result is very beautiful.
Selassie’s hair after loosening the previous night’s braids.
B: Interesting, but are there days where you wish your hair wasn’t natural?
S: Of course! Bismark, sometimes when the going is tough, I wish I didn’t start this. Handling natural is not easy. When your hair is being combed at the salon, you’d sometimes get teary eyed because of the pain. Most people with natural hair have gotten used to the pain, but it’s still painful nonetheless.
B: In your opinion, which is cheaper, having natural or artificial hair?
S: Natural hair is expensive! At first, I thought it was cheaper because I wouldn’t have to add anything but that’s not the case. Well that’s my opinion. A cousin of mine thinks so too.
Natural hair is very stubborn and needs a lot of maintenance. As a matter of fact, there are special salons that take care of natural hair because of its nature. I used to have trouble finding a place to do my hair because most salons were discouraged at the sight of the hair and wouldn’t want to work on it.
B: Oh really.. but dem too… Why?
S: Yeah, I’ve experienced that a lot. I think it’s because they really don’t know how to style the hair or they just don’t want to see you cry from all the painful combing. So yes, keeping natural hair is generally expensive but it all depends on how much you are willing to spend on your hair and I don’t spend that much on mine.
B: I read a feature on one Dr. Esi’s hair on Naa Oyoo Quartey’s blog. She had her natural hair styled on her wedding day and it was really cool. What would your reaction be if any “man in your life” was not a fan of you keeping your hair natural?
S: He should go and get a lady with artificial hair! *laughter* It’s that simple. If you love me, you’d have to love the way I keep my hair. That’s who I am.
B: Ei sister, irrespective of how long you guys have journeyed. Say a month to the wedding?
S: Oh that would be unreasonable. If it’s just for the wedding then we can work around that. I could wear a weave since I can always go back from that but he shouldn’t hate my hair utterly; we won’t work that way.
B: Yeah… otherwise he can go find himself a Barbie doll… (abr)fos3m beku me)
B: Last question ma’am. Would you advice anyone to go natural with their hair?
S: I wouldn’t propose that everyone should go natural with their hair. It’s nice to have an African look, but I believe that being African is more than just your hair. My children will have natural hair, but it will be their decision to keep it when they are of age.
B: Thanks for your time Selassie! It has been nice chatting with you.
“Kpenkpeshie” means tough hair in Ga. Add that to your Ga vocabulary. I just did!
Fun fact: Africans have kinky hair as a defense mechanism against the sun. Same reason our skin is dark.