Times, they are changing
Or maybe we are simply going round in circles as we evolve. Look around you, our boys are growing their hair, they are sporting huge afros and I am not even talking of the 70s afro, they are carrying combs in the pockets of their very tight trousers, they are stopping in front of anything that reflects their images to check their huge dos- which can be cornrows, braids, dreadlocks or simply uncombed hair gone wild.
They peruse the vast range of hair products on the shelves in the malls and super markets – which have since moved from having just women on the packs to men and boys; they are dyeing their hair in all manner of colours – gold is the colour of choice but you’ll often see white and maroon and sometimes a hint of green. And their beards are not spared, have you seen the carved out tinted goatees?
Even mothers are “plaiting” hair for their baby boys, and the rest of us gush over the hairdo, uh huh!
It’s the new normal; we don’t even stand and stare anymore, stare at what? The enviable thick and long hair that makes some women hide their scanty sprouts under Brazilian wigs?
Biko shift, we have long gone past that.
But let me take you back.
Back in the day to wear dreadlocks, you must – dey crase, dey mad, dey gbongbolo cigar to even think your mother or father for that matter would let you bring in a guy with long hair or braids or even dyed hair. You will be kicked so high, you will fall far and be called names that are not nice.
I was one of such name callers.
I would say, guys who braided their hair must be acolytes of sango, the Yoruba god of thunder, who identified with kolese hair plaits or in today’s speak- cornrows front to back.
I would make snide remarks that these ‘hair carrying’ men would not allow their wives use the mirror on the dresser because they would also be busy applying oil, combing, priming themselves while their wives struggled to get a view of herself beside them.
Who needs that kind of competition from her man?
To me, they were simply not serious people. And I remember telling myself: I won’t hire a boy with braids or cornrows or hair that reminded me of the Harlem Globetrotters of old. He will be too busy with his hair to apply himself to the job, no way, man!
Then it happened to me!
A few days ago, I chanced on a photo of my teenage boy who is at uni. This boy schools miles away from home and like many parents who have children schooling far from home, I often ask him to send me his photos. He never will.
I worried he may not be eating well and would be lean, i wanted to know he was ok, you know that sort of thing.
I even called him via WhatsApp video but the boy didn’t pick, he claimed he didn’t have data to pick my video call.
He just gave the lame excuses of not remembering or not having enough data to send photos or some silly thing and after a while I gave up.
‘Na you know, jare, sebi you are not starving and you don’t have a tattoo on your forehead?’ I asked him on the phone after complaining yet again as to him not sending me his photos.
‘No ma,’ was his response and so I let him be.
Then, I saw his photo in his sister’s phone . The photo came with a warning- ‘Don’t let mum see this, o. I beg you’
The boy’s hair don grow reach sky! It looked like he’d been plaiting the hair as I couldn’t imagine how else it had quickly grown so huge. Although, he always had a full head of thick hair, I made sure he reported to the barber’s virtually every two to three weeks, something my daughter needed but didn’t have, her hair is so scanty and thin whereas her brother always had hair we needed to get rid of.
Before he went to the university, I made sure I got him brand new clippers; as I reminded him his hair needed to be kept in check. He obviously hasn’t been using the clippers from the photos I saw on the phone.
No wonder, he didn’t want me to see his hair!
These people have tricked me.
‘Has your brother been plaiting his hair?’ I asked the sister
She didn’t respond instead she hurled an accusation: ‘You’ve been checking my phone?’
I repeated myself, ‘Has your brother been going to iya onidiri of the place he is at instead of facing his studies?’
I got a reluctant, ‘I don’t know’. She was more upset by the fact that I checked her phone.
See these children of nowadays – I bought the phone, I credit the phone, if it goes bad, I am the one who gives the money to fix it…sodiafor, I can check it…so long as I can figure out the password.
‘Tell him I said this hair must go before he comes home o. I won’t have a sango hair -plaiting son in this house.’
It’s funny how the things you tell yourself you won’t take just sneaks up on you and slams you, wham!
My reluctance to accept long hair on a man is prejudiced. Even I know it. Men with hair have never done me any wrong. They are simply being creative…I think.
I remember men with hair were never allowed in certain churches, today, we have guys with looooooong braids playing the organ at many churches, mine for instance. We have them as CEOs of big companies and it never stopped them from being respectful or decent human beings in our society. Why was I so stuck on it, then?
Because it just didn’t feel right for a man to have long hair and be plaiting and carving and greasing and being so devoted to it.
Second off, because it’s easy to fall prey to misconceptions and carry it on as if it’s gospel.
Now that my own son is a hair carrier, does that make him a sissy?
Does it mean he is an un-serious human being?
Nah-he better be excelling in his studies or that hair is the first thing to go but that aside, the boy is simply living his age. After this episode, looked around me, particularly kids his age, my friends’ teenage boys, to young men around and the quest for hair is thick.
It’s the thing to do. The hair is the defining point of their lives, some have braids, many wear dreads, a good many just don’t want to comb their hair ni.
So I sent the son a WhatsApp message. ‘I have seen the hair, it kinda looks cute on you. Apply texturizer to soften it… apply baby oil to make combing easier… keep hair clean and not smelly, girls don’t like that.”
Is this me dishing out advice?
I agreed to the hair staying…but I sent a word of warning, ‘I can deal with the hair, I don’t want tattoos on your face, or neck or hands, or stomach or arms or legs or inside your cheeks or…that will be pushing your luck with me…’
He replied with a smiley, ‘…don’t worry, I won’t.’
Better I say it now before he takes this liberty too far.
My roof, my rules!