I have to raise the hair issue. Lockdown Log: Hair Raising, is my attempt at unpacking just that. Hair today, gone tomorrow? For sure. Like so many other things that get swept under the carpet in South Africa. Last week, it was Nathaniel and this week, it’s a Clicks Advert. I guess it says something about the failing narrative around race identity politics in SA.
I have several problems with the Clicks ad, that have absolutely nothing to do with race or indignation over a perceived slight. It all comes down to the word “normal“. Certainly, the standard is whatever is typical both spatially and temporally? In Africa, for instance, it’s normal to have croes hair. Politely referred to as “afro-textured hair”, the term “croes” is indicative of the self loathing that afflicts many South Africans.
I’m sure that we can agree that there are more Africans in Africa, than say Europe or the Americas? So, what is normal/typical in Africa differs across the Atlantic. And normal in Africa is, obviously, frizzy and dull in say the USA. They are just words. But we have a choice. Why import those terms into our mirrors? Can we please stop with the hair thing? It’s tired and lame!
For instance, the term KhoeSan is actually an oxymoron. More moron than oxy, but still. The word Khoe-Khoe means “man of man”. And the word “San” is a Khoe word meaning “Other”. The San did tell the Khoe who they were. But they didn’t bother to understand. Perhaps because of all the Clicks? Plus the Khoe participated in genocide, trying to wipe “the San” from the face of the earth. To the victor the spoils, right? I guess that’s why we still call it KhoeSan in 2020. And that’s why we let a retailer define normality!
Anyway, there’s no point in splitting hairs over the Clicks issue. The problem is that we keep on importing western ideas of beauty. Superimposing it on Africans in Africa. We do it to ourselves really. Even people with “normal hair” have bad hair days. I mean, I have normal hair. Normal for me. And I’m currently on a bad-hair-day-frustration-vacation.
Now, if you’d like something to assuage your self loathing, why not take a listen to the latest podcast from Spudcaster for Baobulb.org?! Yes! Muti puts the lie to the notion of race. His race is amazing! On the other hand, he does have some pretty normal hair! Not at all dull and frizzy!