Tuesday, March 03, 2009

My New Do

My Nigerian friends told me that they wanted to braid my hair. Like black woman kind of braids.  So I thought, 'Why not?' What's the worst that could happen? It looks awful and I have to take it out shortly after they put it in? Not too steep of a cost, considering the chance that it also might look really sweet. So I went for it. And last Friday my friend Chinomso braided my hair. All day. The whole process took seven hours, yes seven, but we stopped for lunch and dinner, both of which consisted of traditional Nigerian meals. Dinner was a kind of stew and foofoo, which we used to 'scoop' up the stew. Gotta say, foofoo was entirely new to me... not sure that I need to eat it again for a long while, but it was definitely interesting.             

It was such a sweet day. Why? Because unlike America where there is an underlying tension between black and white people (in general), here there are no unspoken 'rules' or boundaries.  I hesitate to even write that because I know someone reading this will be all, "You can't say that." or "That's not true." Oh but it is. In America a white person cannot make an observation about black people (or vice versa) without people projecting all kinds of hidden meaning or innuendo onto your words and dissecting 'what you really meant.' Thus, in an attempt to be politically correct, we're constantly measuring our words- is it acceptable to call a person 'black' or 'African American' this week? For instance. But hey, we're different, and that's ok. The average black guy will almost always be a better sprinter than the average white guy. And that's ok. Obviously there is a whole boat load of pretty awful history behind black/white interactions in America, and a fair amount of healing that is still taking place in our country. And of course there is a fair amount of genuinely racist things said by a subset of people on both sides. But unfortunately as a result the pendulum has swung to a zone of hypersensitivity.

So it is quite refreshing to live in a place where I don't think twice about braiding my hair, because no one will think I'm crossing some unspoken line, other than the Romanians who all look at me strangely. Ok woman, you have maroon hair- you have no right to stare. Where I comment that black women pull off bright colors way better than white women, and they comment that white people can't handle spicy foods. And that is all we mean. We are different, yes, but we simply enjoy learning about and comparing one another's culture and race. End of story. So I learned about the culture of black hair, extensions, and all kinds of things about which I knew nothing. And they were endlessly amused at my picture taking and naive questions. It was kind of a big deal- new hair is serious business. At the end of it all I was surprised to find that, shocker of shockers, it actually looked good! Like something I would want to keep for awhile. The next day Chinomso added some curls to the end of the braids, and oh man, sign me up for this long term! I could definitely get used to this. Except the fact that it's really hard to wash, and then takes a dang long time to dry. A small price to pay for a huge payoff. I will leave you with a few photos recapping the big event.
Before the braiding began- with Chinomso

The extension... That is now all in my hair

Last braid!!

With the girls afterwards- Chinomso, Tomi, and Mary

With the curls at the end, a job well done

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