Natty Dread Dem

Natural hair is not only a decision; it’s a process.

dilema

My journey began when I saw my processed hair on the floor of the natural hair salon. I felt a mix of emotions: regret, sadness, fear and happiness coursing through me. How would my parents react? How would my family and friends react? Will I be treated differently? My parents’ reactions varied from outright loving my new look to nonchalantly shrugging the shoulders and saying: “Your hair will soon grow back.” My close friends’ reaction was similar. In fact they inquired: “Why did you cut your long hair?” But society treated me differently with short hair than with long hair. With short hair, I was perceived as a rebel, afro-centric and artistic. I was viewed less feminine and treated differently to my counterparts with longer tresses. I believe the photo above summarises the views. Yet at that point in the salon chair, all I experienced, was the wind blowing across the nape of my neck for what felt like the first time in years. I felt exhilarated, like I was about to start a new adventure.

 

combtwist

Comb twists style (Note: this is not the author)

My hair was an inch and a half long and the hairdresser did it in comb twists. She used holding gel and the end of the rat-tailed comb and twisted it. My hair looked different, lively and natural. Before my chemically processed hair was flat and dull. Every three months I had to submit my hair to chemical torture. Between the smell of the straightener and the burns on my scalp I had to take action to reclaim my natural hair.

 

 

natural-twists

Artificial shoulder length natural twists (Note: this is not the author)

 

For months I hid it under the guise of artificial shoulder length natural twists. My hair grew and had to be treated again every three months. Then I found a texturiser which was less damaging to my hair. My decision to loc my hair came around after the death of my father. Out of respect and also out of fear of disapproval from my father, I started the process of locking my hair. It was an amazing feeling. Natural oils replaced the harmful chemicals. My coils were liberated and celebrated. The downside to it was that society expected me to act a certain way: be a vegan, not wash my hair, be artsy, smoke weed, listen to Bob Marley!?!

rebel

 

When asked why chose this hairstyle, my response is comedic: I don’t like to comb my hair. What surprised me is that this hairstyle is a lifestyle. Yet it teaches you that people’s opinions belong to them. Don’t adopt them or take them on as your own. It also challenges the perception of beauty. Natural beauty goes beyond hair, skin and nails. It is a holistic experience. It is a conscious decision that is made every  waking moment of your life.

My natural decision also goes to wearing makeup. For me, makeup is for special occasions. As my lifestyle is hectic, it is difficult to factor in the necessary time for makeup. My hope is that when my lifestyle slows down, there will be an opportunity to incorporate time for makeup. I am of the view that makeup should enhance your natural features and not cover them up. My makeup celebrates my ebony skin, my small almond shaped brown eyes and my full luscious lips. It does not cover up my flaws, which make me unique. It compliments them. This vision allows a sense of freedom.

visionToday, decide to live your life free from grudges, free from the drama and in peace. And remember that we are not perfect, only our Maker is perfect. We may strive for perfection but we must not let our perception of perfection take over our lives. Those persons whom you have issues with, or disagree with on points, that is acceptable because we are all different naturally. So when you see them smile at them because we are all fighting the same struggle which we call life. If someone does you wrong or if you wrong someone, step back and karma will do the rest. Life is too short to be worried about someone else. Strive to be better than you were yesterday and always put God first. Don’t try to live another person’s life. Live your own. Make the decision and go along with the process. Only God knows the destination at the end of the road of your personal development.

Be natural! Be beautiful! Be you!

Advertisements

Caring Culture

Quite recently my  career has shifted from the public sphere to the private domain. At the end our day of professional development, the participants were of the same opinion: it was not only informative but it provided the platform to build vital skills in our discipline, which is that of education.

tribesMy introduction to the system of Tribes agreements was quite recent. These Agreements stand upon four pillars: mutual respect, attentive listening, appreciations (no put downs) and the right to participate/pass. When practised within the learning experience, the result is a safe classroom environment where every stakeholder in education (students, teachers, parents, administrators and investors) can benefit. The principles of Tribes extend beyond the classroom and can be utilised in the home and the community.

guide-on-side

Upon arrival to today’s session the first thing that stood out was the seating arrangement. The chairs were arranged in a continuous circle to demonstrate the preference of the “guide on the side” instead of the “sage on stage”. The presenter effectively disseminated informative resources that would assist within the session and were transferable to the classroom.

tribes-trail

The session began with a definition of Tribes and the ensuing powerful influence it would have in delivering the written  and the hidden curriculum. Through Tribes, the information in the various subject areas would  be covered. The participants were urged to ask the students to describe what the four pillars of the Tribes agreement would look, sound and feel like. By doing this issues relating to classroom management will significantly decrease. In addition the facilitator introduced the statement of appreciation. This exemplifies the affective aspect of the lesson plan as most of the focus is on the cognitive and psychomotor skills. It appears in some cases that affective skills are all but forgotten or neglected. For instance, to inculcate the feelings of kindness the concept of “Have you filled your bucket today?” was introduced to aid appreciation and attentive listening. Furthermore, there would  be a significant development in the  emotional intelligence within the students, which is crucial to success for the future. It must be noted that most successful persons have a high level of emotional intelligence.

bucket-filler-1

Inclusion, Influence and Community were the components on the Tribes Trail. For Inclusion, the participants were sanctioned to implement group work and cooperative learning into the lessons. It is imperative that students learn the life skill of teamwork. In fact, the most common question asked on the job interview is: “Are you a team player?” The Inclusion activities promoted teamwork and could be incorporated with the written curriculum. Some of these were I Like My Neighbour, One Ball Pass, What’s in my wallet?, Bubble letters and the ever popular Rock, Paper, Scissors.

tribes-2

Through these activities, the participants experienced the benefits of cooperation. These benefits could be transferred to the students’ emotional intelligence for they boost academic achievement, constructive thinking, social competency, social support, psychological health and a positive self esteem. Also connected to emotional intelligence were reflections which strengthened content, behavioural and personal growth. Through the examination of emotional intelligence the participants encountered Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardiner. This reiterated the blanket statement that “learning is a process of making connections to previous experiences and interests”.

multiple-intelligences

On approaching the end of the session the participants were inspired to examine the ways how the development of emotional intelligence can work for the students, the parents and the faculty. All in all, the assessment of emotional intelligence centred on self-perception, self expression, interpersonal, decision making and stress tolerance. All of these life skills would result in a Beginners’ Mind as our students will be viewed from a fresh stance. By believing in our students so they can believe in themselves, our future will be transformed. The past cannot be undone, however the changes in the present will have long term effects on the future. Therefore make the most of today. Today for me was thought-provoking, validating, refreshing and inspiring as through bonding with like minded educators we filled our professional skills bucket so we can take on the role of education one student, teacher, parent, administrator and investor at a time.

 

Valentine

Love is in the air

Flowers, chocolates and roses

A red and white affair

One chapter opens, another closes.

 

The real story behind St. Valentine leaves us with the adage that true love never dies. Bishop Valentine believed in marriage in a society that believed that marriage weakened the resolve of soldiers. He continued to marry those and when it was discovered that he was acting against the Emperor’s orders he was told to desist. When he refused he was detained. The jailer’s daughter was blind and Valentine healed her sight. They fell in love, but it was ill fated for Valentine was sentenced to be beheaded the following morning. The night before his death he wrote her a letter and signed it “From Your Valentine.” Despite his unfortunate demise, this tradition of love, though be it materialised and commercialised is celebrated today. Permit me to share with you another memorable Valentine’s day story:

Her body still ached from the surgery she had two weeks ago but she was determined to go. Dressed in her best, waiting at the entrance of the restaurant, she leaned in and whispered into the host’s ear: “Table for one”.

The host took in the stunningly attractive young lady and thought to himself that it was ludicrous that a delicious looking lady should be by herself especially like a night like tonight: Valentines night. Before he could stop himself, he said: “Where is the young gentleman?” to which she calmly replied: “Where is the table? I just want to be treated like a Queen tonight.”

The host completely understood. Instead of sitting her at the bar as she had requested, he insisted that she sit at one of the finest tables in the restaurant. She complied. He showed her the wine list and she waved it away to expertly order a bottle of the Blackwood cabernet sauvignon. As he left, she opened a book and began to read a novel by her favourite Nigerian feminist author.

No children, no calls from work, nothing but peace and quiet. No awkward pauses in fake conversation with a date alongside her. Another waiter came to serve her wine and expertly poured it into her wine glass. She looked on appreciatively at the technique and the waiter’s physique and leaned in ever so slightly to make a request. “May I see the menu? I would like to order.” He quickly returned with the order. She set her novel aside and she perused the menu. After making her selection, she enjoyed the relaxing lounge music and the crashing of the waves on the boardwalk outside of the restaurant.

Thinking to herself, she realised that this was truly the reward for the dramatic and traumatic year she had: a turbulent pregnancy, a broken marriage and an unfulfilling career. She was beginning a love affair. A love affair with herself. She took care to arrange her clothes, her hair, her accessories before coming out on her own this Valentine’s night. She did not need to fit the mould of the other couples around her. She was responsible for her own happiness and as the main course arrived, she sipped her wine and took a cleansing breathe into her body for her mind and soul were content. She would not have it any other way. She took another sip of the wine and as it coursed through her body, she thought love lives on. Though it may appear that this is the end it truly is a wonderful beginning. She lifted her glass halfway in the air and whispered: Happy Valentine’s Day!