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  • +254 700 614290/+233 54 109 8521/+223 95 07 07 09

When Natural Hair is a Crime

By: Najar Nyakio Munyinyi

Scalping our Childrens’ heads for Education?
When I look at pictures of school kids in Kenyan schools, I am infuriated at a leadership that doesn’t begin to understand the trauma that it brandishes to it’s youth, let alone the emotional distress and anguish that is going to be with that child throughout his adult life. Hair is a #whiteness issue, and we’re are not dealing well with it.

Hairy Issues

In this article,

https://www.kenyans.co.ke/news/44820-mp-rushes-school-after-teacher-shaves-sons-hair

an MP was called to his son’s school after an incident where the teacher partially shaved off his sons hair. The Nominated MP David Sankok then requested to see the teacher and directed him to CANE the boys for complaining to him. “I asked them to take me to that teacher and asked the teacher if he shaved them. When I asked if he caned them, he said he did not. I then instructed them to cane them two strokes each,” he continued.


You can see from the press picture, that this is a boy who is barely 7 – a boy who cannot take himself to the barber. For that alone, the father, MP or not, should have been thwacked properly left right and centre – for if beating works, there would be no crime in Kenya today, no adultery and no alcoholism. Caning a child is causing that child unnecessary pain which has been attached to physical trauma of the heart and longevity, while bitter tears cause a breakdown of tissue – and apart from that – it is the duty and the responsibility of the parents to make sure that children go to school in proper uniform and shaved heads….
But wait, why?
Why should our girls and boys go to school with forlorn shaven hairless heads?

A Hairy Question
I was a parent, and I asked often, WHY are our children not allowed to attend local schools with their natural long hair? For in the poshy international schools, children are allowed to keep their hair as long as they wanted. But whenever I asked local 844 principles, they would blurt out a vague “because it is the rule” and as hard as I tried to get behind the reason for the absurd rule it usually landed me the parent into weird interrogations beginning with “ ..if you don’t want to follow the school rules..” to the absurd, “..it stops them from learning…”, to self-image – “natural hair is untidy”, or “girls spend too much time on their hair,” the crazy, “it blocks washrooms..”, to “it’s unhealthy for children to have long hair..” to the utter crap, “… it is against our biblical religious principles.”, and finally said firmly, “…. I can see you’re one of those problem parents, please look for another school, I’m sorry you’re not welcome here…”. Case Closed. Students in Kenya, must have no unique identity, no soul nor self-worth/appreciation. All must be identical clones. I’ll tell you the truth, identifying my kids during pick-up time was sometimes difficult and this terrified me.
History:
“ …the reason I love to study history is to “see” – to open my mind to and comprehend on a physical, social and spiritual level the connections between time, to observe human and in-humane deeds; for all actions committed in the past are simply the seeds sown and the patterns of life that are repeated into our present and future..” ~ Najar
All Cultures Have Context
Let me begin with The Sagging Story to explain why it is important to look at cultures within their context. In the mid 1980’s – men in the USA sagged trousers as a fashion. But why? The reason was because in their jails – belts were taken away from males (like how they take one shoe away here in Kenya) to stop a man from using his belt to commit suicide, and also, it’s hard for a man to run away when he’s holding up his trousers. When young men began to sag in Kenya, a group of us had to call it out and educate them on the fact that it wasn’t on as a habit. Not only was it was an offensive prison culture from America, it was from a space of (a) a slavery/white superiority structure because Africans never had prisons or demeaning value systems (b) it was belittling for a man to show his underwear; the culture didn’t come from a space of pride, but of diminishing values, of gangsterism, of deaths, of devaluing human beings whom were relatives and neighbours by killing them, and of sexual attention directed towards the buttocks – of gayism – then not accepted by the African community, and the historical sodomy of slaves (white men and buck-breaking).(click link)

North America 1500 – 1800’s

The colonialists had severe problems with the local Native Indian Tribes who were fierce and territorial. Many rebelled furiously against the white invaders on their lands. Being better fighters, skillful on their horses and ponies, they lived off the land and were perfect scouts, they won many land wars with ease for they knew their lands. Young fighters did not need reins for their ponies, they were adept at riding, climbing, living on their lands, they knew the poisons for their arrows, they knew the treatment for gunshot wounds, and they were by far, larger in numbers than the settling puny white invaders – the Natives, numbered in the millions. For the Native Americans, hair was a symbol of age, tribe and strength – hair was a total cultural identity, for the soul of a person was his hair.
“There are many teachings and practices in our tribal cultures that are significant to who we are as Native people. One of many things important to our cultural identity is our hair. Our hair is considered sacred and significant to whom we are as an individual, family, and community. In many tribes, it is believed that a person’s long hair represents a strong cultural identity. This strong cultural identity promotes self-esteem, self-respect, a sense of belonging, and a healthy sense of pride. As part of the practice in self-respect, we are taught to take good care of our hair through proper grooming. In preparation for ceremonies, we take great care in the grooming, styling, and ornamentation of our hair. Our hairstyle and ornamentation are guided by the values of our family and tribe. It is a form of creative self-expression that reinforces our connection to our family, tribe, and Creation. Some tribes will use one or two braids, while others will use three. Some families will paint their hair depending on the ceremony or their family’s distinction. Women and men will adorn their hair with fur wraps, woolen wraps, feathers, fluffs, and bead-work for war-dancing (click link) and ceremonies. How we relate to our hair is a constant reminder of our connection to our culture and a distinct worldview grounded in the sacredness of relationships. Braiding a child’s hair is the beginning of establishing an intimate and nurturing relationship. [Barbie Stensgar, Colville Tribe – Arrow Lakes Band, January 2019]


“Many cultures across the world, from Singhs (which means Lion in sanskrit) in India, to the Akorino believers in Kenya, believe there is power in uncut hair. It is not surprising that long hair is often called a mane. For many Native Americans, braided hair signifies unity with the infinite, and allowing the hair to flow freely signifies the free flow of life. Native American tribes believe that hair is connected to the nervous system, that long hair reaches out like tentacles and pulls energy and information from the world around us similar to a cat’s whiskers. Hair is connected to the earth and nature where long hair has the symbolic significance tying them to Mother Earth whose hair is very long grasses. Many Native Americans believe their hair is a physical manifestation of the growth of the spirit, and some say it allows for extrasensory perception and connection to all things.”
What does cutting the hair signify?
Many tribes cut their hair when there is a death in the immediate family as an outward symbol of the deep sadness , as well as being a physical reminder of the loss. The cut hair represents the time with their loved one, which is over and gone, and the new growth is the life after. The cutting of hair can also signify separating from past actions or thoughts. When a Native American cuts their hair, the hair is often treated with respect. It can be placed into a flowing river, buried, or burned. [El RubioOctober 16, 2016, The LongHairs.]
In Kenya, shaving off of head hair is practiced by the Luo’s and some Luhya’s during death. There are thousands of indigenous peoples in South Africa, in Papua New Guinea, the Aborigines in Australia who also practice this shaving off hair as a form of respect, as a new beginning when someone dies. Otherwise hair is not cut, it is respected groomed and taken care of.


The Horror of the British Armies.


When the British foreign invaders discovered this about the Natives in America, they went ham, and sadly reverted into their ancestors barbarism, and revived an abysmal horrifying war practice never before seen on these lands. Scalping is the act of cutting or tearing a part of the human scalp with hair attached, from the head. The invading armies began to ‘scalp’ the heads and hair of the Native Americans they killed, and put these scalps on their horses reigns, or on their belts, or at the end of their rifles, to show the natives just how many souls they had killed.
It horrified, and destroyed the Native American Indians.
(i) Respecting Cultures & Taboos in Anthropology
As humans, it is a measure of the quality of our life soul journeys to respect other peoples cultures, to honor, to regard in high esteem those things they believe in. The European does not – and this is the source of over 500 years wrath of indigenous people and of major conflict worldwide. Anthropology, is the learning of peoples customs, and in learning a people’s customs it is a humanitarian rule to grow into a respect and understanding of that people’s groups way of life, their relationship to earth and the spiritual – the waters, air, trees, hills, valleys, animals on land and birds of the air – basically – the relationship between them, and the environment. It is a humane rule known as ‘do no harm’.


The formula of colonialism + capitalism however, disregards this major rule in it’s grinding hell of toil. It teaches an INHUMANE ideology – get to know your competitors weakness, and use it against them to destroy – in order to gain their (lands, resources, material goods etc). Robbery and scamming is built on this methodology of “know whom you’re robbing, learn their weaknesses and go for the weak points”. Thus, colonialism and neo-colonialism begs the question – are the perpetrators human, or un-human, inhumane and therefore, not-human?


The “Cutting of Hair” and Scalping
This culture is an old one that began in Northern Europe before the Middle Ages – the medieval period of Europe that lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into what they call their Renaissance and the “Age of Discovery” this latter which is just basically European historians describing the brutality of invading the America’s, African and Australasian lands, killing indigenous population groups, razing cities to the ground (over 100 in Africa) and renaming places in English French Spanish Italian or German. Absolute tyranny.


In England in 1036, The Earl Godwin, father of Harold Godwinson was responsible for scalping his enemies, according to the ancient Abingdon manuscript where it reads, ‘…some of them were blinded, some maimed, some scalped. No more horrible deed was done in this country since the Danes came and made peace’. In reading this manuscript, it is surprising how these cruel acts mirrored exactly those of the Philistines, the hated race and enemies of the Jews* (who we now know were a black-skinned peoples) – against Solomon, also known as Syam’un al Ghazi. Being an “enemy” of the Philistine King, first his hair was cut, he was then blinded, after which he was tortured for weeks on end. For how long does it really take for a black mans hair to grow back? Once his hair was long enough to form a short ‘fro or cover his head completely, he used his strength to bring the entire house down. Pun intended. Side bar: (The book Black Jews in Africa and the Americas tells the fascinating story of how the Ashanti, Tutsi, Igbo, Zulu, Beta Israel and the Maasai African peoples came to think of themselves as descendants of the ancient tribes of Israel. Pursuing medieval and modern European race narratives over a millennium in which not only were Jews cast as black – but black Africans were cast as Jews, Tudor Parfitt reveals a complex history of the interaction between religious and racial labels and their political uses.) Back to Scalping: Herodotus, the ancient Greek historian known for having written the book The Histories, a detailed record of his “inquiry” on the origins of the Greco-Persian Wars, provides a clear and satisfactory portrayal of a scalping people in the old world. The old world was – duh, before the middle ages. In his description of the Scythians, a nomadic people located to the North and West of the Black Sea, Herodotus related that Scythian warriors would behead the enemies they defeated in battle and present the heads to their king to claim their share of the plunder. Then, the warrior would skin the head “by making a circular cut round the ears and shaking out the skull; he then scrapes the flesh off the skin with the rib of an ox, and when it is clean works it with his fingers until it is supple, and fit to be used as a sort of handkerchief. He hangs these handkerchiefs on the bridle of his horse, and is very proud of them. The best man is the man who has the greatest number.” When white historians state that it is the Native American Indians who began scalping, I wince at the audacity of whiteness re-writing indigenous history to display themselves as innocent white gods – not as the demons they were. As with much history regarding slavery or colonization of indigenous peoples and their lands by the European, whiteness, whitewashing and white lies can no longer be denied or tolerated as fact. The Europeans committed atrocious crimes against humanity, and scalping was just one of them. It is not originally “Red Indians” culture, they copied it as a war tool – but it eventually broke them down emotionally because of the very beliefs that they hold about their hair. Secondly, scalping was a war tradition of the barbaric European tribes who imported their warfare and combat principles onto the unsuspecting American Natives. They British played dirty – and then turned around and pointed fingers at the ‘dastardly natives’. However and happily, this white lies habit of the British and Europeans presenting lies as historical truths has been slowly unraveling around the world in this age that is swiftly being called the Age of Information, or The Age of the Apocalypse
“Apocalypse” is a Greek word meaning “revelation” or “an unveiling or unfolding of things not previously known and which could not be known apart from the unveiling”. The meaning of the Christian word “Apocalypse” is another whiteness lie (or clever white lie) which has been sold as truth to naïve natives and indigenous groups. It is taken from the translation of the word “Revelation” from Greek and lost in translation to English. In his book – described in dangerous ritualistic terms, John’s writes his vision of how Christ will return when it is time for God to judge all earthly beings and reward the faithful with eternal, joyful life. This component – the ending of earthly life and the beginning of an unknowable existence closer to the “divine” is what gives popular modern culture the association of the “apocalypse” with the meaning “end of the world.”.
Tuko pamoja? There is no ‘end of the world’ in the word #apocalypse. It is a crafted word association.
(…when you get it..)


War and Terrorizing a Native Population
From the killing of billions of Bison to Terrorizing the Natives, no deed was too evil to carry out in order to complete the mission.


“The USA Army was in the business of controlling the Native Americans and that meant killing buffalo. “Kill every buffalo you can! Every buffalo dead is an Indian gone.” Sheridan had been a major-general for the Union during the Civil War. It was there he learned the power of destroying enemy resources. He used the same scorched-earth strategy that William Tecumseh Sherman, then a major-general, used in his March to the Sea, tearing up railroad ties, toppling telegraph poles, and lighting up nearly all of Atlanta especially anything an infantryman could digest. The war with the Natives was Manifest Destiny, for there’d never be enough room for Native Americans and white settlers. In treaty after reneged treaty, the land granted to the tribes of the Great Plains shrunk. The U.S. wanted them docile, to take up farming on the reservations and stay put. But the Sioux, the Kiowa, and Comanches, and nearly all the tribes of the plains, lived alongside buffalo-herds and took from them their skins for tents, and their meat for food.” [J. Weston Phippen, The Atlantic, May 13, 2016]


An Emotional Tool of Terror

From starving humans to death by killing off their animals, to The Trail of Tears – the series of forced relocations of Native Americans in the United States from their ancestral homelands in the Southeastern United States to areas to the west of the Mississippi River that had been designated as “Indian Territory”, the scalping of Native Americans was a Tool of War to completely subjugate, conquer and vanquish the ‘native’.


EDUCATION, Children, the Use of Taboo’s + Fear to discipline Children.

*Discipline – the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience.
Similar words include: control, regulation, direction, authority, order, rule, strictness.
For each of these words, it’s antonym is ‘freedom, individuality, creativity, choice’.
“Late in the morning, my friend Judewin gave me a terrible warning. Judewin knew a few words of English; and she had overheard the pale-face woman talk about cutting our long, heavy hair. Our mothers had taught us that only unskilled warriors who were captured had their hair shingled [cut] by the enemy. Among our people, short hair was worn by mourners, and shingled [cut] hair by cowards! I cried aloud, shaking my head all the while until I felt the cold blades of the scissors against my neck, and heard them gnaw off one of my thick braids. Then I lost my spirit”. ­Zitkala­Ša/Gertrude Simmons Bonnin
“[Long hair] was the pride of all Indians. The boys, one by one, would break down and cry when they saw their braids thrown on the floor. All of the buckskin clothes had to go and we had to put on the clothes of the White Man. If we thought the days were bad, the nights were much worse. This is when the loneliness set in, for it was when we knew that we were all alone. Many boys ran away from the school because the treatment was so bad, but most of them were caught and brought back by the police.”- Lone Wolf, of the Blackfoot tribe.


A Texas 4-year-old is in a hairy predicament, 2017

“Jabez Oates’ long mane violates the appropriately named Barbers Hill Independent School District’s dress code and he may not return to his preschool until his hair is shorn”, his mom Jessica was told. “I bought him all his school supplies, his school clothes, his backpack, and he was enthralled to be going to school. Now he’s confused as to why he can’t go to school anymore,” Oates said. She said she knew the long hair would violatethe code but thought Jabez could be excused for cultural reasons. “My family is American-Indian. We are Cocopah Indian and that was the documentation that I provided for the reason for my son’s long hair,” Oates explained. “It’s a signal of strength.” The principal though, contacted the mom and told her that documentation isn’t enough. “Apparently, the school board is a stickler for rules and can’t think of any religions or cultures that would require long hair,” Oates said. Jabez went to school two days last week—once with his long hair down and once with his hair in a bun—and both styles were deemed inappropriate. He was sent home because the black hair tie used to put his hair in a bun was considered an “inappropriate hair accessory.” Oates is now seeking day-care options and said she has received tons of backlash for trying to preserve his cultural identity. “It has been vile. A lot of people have told me to move and get out of here – I can’t home-school because I work full time and I’m trying to find a second job. I’m a single mom and so home-schooling really just isn’t an option,” Oates said.


“All I have is the public school system and right now, that is absolutely failing my child.” She’s started a Change.org petition in an attempt to change the “sexist” school dress code, but the Schools Superintendent Greg Poole said Oates has …the right to take her child elsewhere. “Parents have a right to seek an appropriate educational setting for their child, just as Ms. Oates has the right to place her child in a district that reflects her personal expectations for standards of appearance,” Poole’s statement read. “There are procedures in place for addressing concerns over policy if it is Ms. Oates’ desire to have her son educated in Barbers Hill ISD. But we would and should justifiably be criticized if our district lessened its expectations or longstanding policies simply to appease.”

New York Post, 2017

What really is independence, when in less than 500 years, a Native American was rudely told by white settlers to “… leave the area – and ‘get out of there” – who caught that? Is this humanity? Is this caring for traditional values, is this asking critical questions about beliefs and taboo’s? What are we doing to our children?


Kenyan CopyCats

There is much policy that has been adopted by Kenyans that is not Kenyan by a long shot. We have had for a long a very while – since the 1970’s to be exact – a Kenyan Crisis of Cultural identity without any solutions. It is in part due to the very colonial and imperialistic education that we have that devalues our cultures – the schools we go to from primary to tertiary, are structured to eliminate and disconnect us from our cultural roots. They cause us pain and distress, separation from homes and loneliness. This is true the higher in Education the ‘Learner’ goes – rarely does a professor regard themselves as peers with village elders, or those who speak broken ‘english language’. They regard themselves as ‘intellectuals’ rising above Kenyan society and community needs. They see themselves as having more in common with the former colonizer, than with their own people. And therein lies the problem. See, even this that I write, I write in English – the colonialists language. In Kenya, many argue that culture is what the westerners brought to us – there is no negotiation of this lie – culture was brought here, we never had ‘culture’ and this belief boils down to a surreal value system where whiteness is more superior than black, where whiteness, is of more value, and where whiteness is to be achieved at all means – including our communication with each other.


The Educational system that we have inherited as Kenyans is not Kenyan – there is no denying this. It is colonial. And in that regard, it is purely used as a tool of war to subjugate, tame, temper and conquer the locals. See the word “discipline”. The school system in Kenya is not in place for teaching our children, it is not there for building them up as natural human beings and members of a natural planet – it is built on the foundations of winning a war – and to make minions out our children, for the benefit of first world populations. And one of the tools of war is scalping. Cutting of hair was the colonial way of stripping native children of their identities and cultures. Of labeling a person as an “other” – ignorant, stupid, oafish, criminal, dirty or whatever is vile.


Our Prisons

Kenya had no prisons before the arrival of the white man in the early 1800’s. The interior of East Africa – Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda, only saw white men 100 years ago – not before – for we had a defense mechanism that worked well to repel the white man. The fierce Maasai Tribes were an barrier to crossing from the Indian Ocean, to Lake Victoria. However, when the Brit finally came inland, he came with knowledge gained from the colonies in America and in South Africa on how to subjugate the spirit of the Black Man. Punishment as being locked up in a cold sunless windowless room had no social significance, and still does not – you cannot really instill cultural change in such a short time. However, other things terrified men.
• One was being locked up away from his cows and the freedom to roam as he wished.
• The whipping and beating of morans and elders.
• The growing of hair was important for Morans. So what the British did was to cut hair when a person was imprisoned. That loss of hair was a blow, a cruel cultural un-natural loss of identity.


Schools have adopted the same callous treatment of our children. They are locked up all day, forced to sit on extremely hard chairs, eat set meals at set times, and in the cold season, forced to be in the cold, in shorts or skirts. There are adults between 25 – 45 years today who have early rheumatism and arthritis because of the stupidity of our school rules and boarding schools – build without heating and children told to ‘vumilia’.


Boarding Schools are run like prisons – the only difference is that in school there are forced classes and exams to study for + SCATs, (sudden continuous assessment tests) otherwise, there is little difference. Children are canned for the least misdemeanors, violence is rampant, bullying is normal, mental disease is not addressed, teachers are hateful and abusive to children in both speech and manner. After 11 years of this torture, there are two sets of adults who leave the system. The ones who have been broken by the system and become minions – fit for the capitalist –work-work-work-work mindset. Then there are those who are bewildered and distressed, who cry out to the world that we as Kenyans are in crisis, for we have lost our identity. But one thing above all this stands out about Kenyan local schools, good or bad.


“Cut your hair, keep it neat” for the girls – and for boys – Shave your heads bald before you go to school.


I remember when a friend of my daughter came home from school weeping prodigious tears – her hair, which she had held up in a neat pony tail, had been cut while she had been sleeping – by school mates. Because it was ‘just hair’, she was told to stop being hysterical and was punished further for her crime – of screaming and crying. She was made to cut grass.


You’ve all heard the stories of children who have been refused entrance into schools because they have natural hair in Kenya. The other day I was sitting next to a man at a meeting. We got to talking, and he spoke proudly about his son, a hard working doctor who has a good life and is supporting himself – in a different part of the country. “…but my wife hates his hair, because he has dreadlocks, “ he said, “…and she forced me to call him and tell him to cut his hair.” Did you make the call, I asked. “yes,” he admitted, “..and he cut them off.” Why? I asked, shocked and stunned. “…because my wife said she cannot go to the same salon as her son. My wife told me, to tell him, who is the woman in the family, her or him?”


Wakenya, tutajimaliza.

This is not just a hairy sad commentary of the story of an MP telling his 7 year old son’s teacher to give him canes for going to school with ‘long hair’. It’s deeper than that. It is a deliberate destruction of our identities on our own land – the same way it destroyed the American Indian. But the difference is we have ‘independence’ – or do we? Frankly I don’t think Kenyans understand what independence and the right to a self-autonomous rule means – (we have not been taught in schools) – so let me put it out here. Independence or Freedom means the Rights of individuals or a group of individuals/communities to live by and uphold their indigenous traditions/cultures and practices without criminalization of the same.


Fact: Kenya’s laws and policies are defined by the British colonial penal system. And our laws are made by those who have entered the system with creative young brilliant minds, been shredded through the colonial education systems and finally being ejected with ‘Honorary Degrees’ 14 years later. Little apart from his skin colour and local accent, would tell him apart from the neo-colonialist. And this is a real Kenyan problem.


In conclusion?

As we look for our values and traditions within our differing cultures, as we seek memories from the elderly before they pass away, as we seek stories to tell us of how it truly was before the white man arrived in these parts, it is good to ask questions.
Like what was the real reason that the culture of the American Indian was destroyed? Why did the British Imperialists and the French and the Spanish Monarchies at the time maim and kill and force American Indians into ‘Reservations’? According to the invader, “… there was not enough land for both the natives and the white settlers”.

Hut Tax
Let’s look at a rule made in South Africa in the late 1800’s. Mining of Diamonds, Gold and other minerals took the British and the Boers to South Africa – to cut a long story short, the Boers and British Whites called South Africa “God’s Land” and believed (many still do) that “blacks had been placed there specifically to serve them”. Because of this mentality, the working conditions at the Mines were inhuman and plane horrible, with no places for eating or shitting in the hell holes; tunnels often collapsed killing hundreds per fall, so poor was the pay despite the amount of wealth that they slaved to take out gold and diamonds from their own under the ground, so horrifying was it that men would spend days UNDER THE GROUND and not on-top of the land with their cattle – that the local tribes stopped working for the mining companies. They went back to to farm, or be traders – anything but the mines. But the Mines in South Africa could not operate without their cheap black labour and white men refused to mine. But more and more black indigenous men quit to make an alternate life. The mining industry – based on slavery, almost collapsed. In retaliation a Tax of 10 Shillings on all Blacks who refused to work as Mine laborers – and a HUT TAX of 10 shillings on all homesteads was IMPOSED by the Sprigg government during the wars of 1878, when government expenditure was extremely high. It forced Black Africans to labour in the colonial economy. House-holds which had previously survived on and stored their wealth in cattle ranching had to send family members to work for the colonialists in order to raise the cash with which to pay the tax. And that ‘work’ was the black African man’s toil to physically slave and build new towns, railways, roads, and in the hell-holes of the mining industry.
The fib about there not being enough land for both natives and settlers is one I’ve heard almost monthly about Kenya and Kenyan Land, about Land, in East Africa, particularly Northern Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi. It’s a chant that disgusts and annoys me – that we’re too many and we’re overpopulated, that we cannot ‘feed ourselves’ and ‘our environment cannot cope’, that ‘we’re destroying our wildlife’ and we’re the creators of ‘deforestation’. The danger is that these lying chants become lullaby’s that are easily accepted and taken for truth (they aren’t truth, but that’s another story) especially by those who have adopted Western style culture. For in our cultures – we lived and many still do live by respecting the environment. Did we not study at the feet of our elders? Did we not care for our forests, mountains and clear wide rivers? For our wildlife, our thousands of cattle? Yes, we did.
..but,

Back to our Hair
Our hair and our attitude towards it regards our very own deep identities as Africans and it always has for it is about whom we are, our significance in society – and yes – many indigenous cultures right here in East Africa including Sikhs, believe that long hair is a symbol of strength, wisdom and profound spirituality. So why have BLACK KENYANS – not kept their traditions? Why isn’t a Samburu allowed in school, with his long red neat plaits? Why can’t a Turkana kid attend school with his or her lovely top braids? Why can’t we create spaces in our society like we do for the Kalasinga’s, the Muslimah’s and the Akorino’s and begin to accept the beautiful diversity and richness of our hair-culture?

May be, it because association with our hair and the caring of it may lead us into a deeper understanding of our traditional values, and tie us in closer to our culture, to our languages, and that most valuable of all things – to our lands.

Why are you scalping your child’s head?

© Najar Nyakio Munyinyi
GPAN, Kenyan Chapter

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