Natural hair in Nigeria... Meet Funmi!

Hi All! 

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I do realise it's Tuesday (evening, for that matter), but the past few days have been a blur so I haven't had a chance to get on the blog, twitter or the facebook page.

One of the best things about starting up The Kinky Apothecary is that I am constantly brought into contact with women who inspire me in different ways.

One such woman is Funmi Johnson, CEO and Founder of born2bebeautiful, and natural with a few blips since 1997. 

Funmi started born2bebeautiful just over a year ago to draw on her expertise as a barrister, trainer, life coach, make up and lifestyle advisor. Their aim is to empower girls to make sound life choices, and to help women realise their potential and look and feel their best. born2bebeautiful specialises in helping women who have experienced or are experiencing domestic violence in their relationships. 

Here's what she had to say about her natural hair experiences.

Photo courtesy of subject
Why I went natural
I am from Lagos, but lived most of my life in the UK. I've been natural for 15 years (hadn't realised it had been that long!)

I went natural because I was fed up with putting chemicals in my hair and dealing with the fallout of an itchy dry scalp, which turned out to be an allergy to the chemicals. 

My big chop experience
I didn't really have a view on natural hair before I went natural. I guess I thought it meant you were a child as 'grown' women have relaxed hair.

I did the big chop at 30 and so I was ready for a big change. Shaved it all off (it was a no. 1 grade), got a tattoo, learned to drive and to swim. All in all a very exciting year.

Experiences of being natural in Nigeria
I've only just moved back to Lagos, however I visited last year when I had locs and I got quite a few comments on them. I was a bit apprehensive, given the average Nigerian's views on locs as being dirty. 

When I wear my 'fro out here, it's strange that I get almost the same response as in England. Questions like, "how do you look after it?" "Is it soft?" Comments like "you're really brave to cut your hair"

Photo courtesy of subject 
My mum was horrified when I cut my hair off. A potential suitor said "Why can't you just have a weave-on, like normal women?" A senior colleague at work said "You're so brave to have cut your hair. When I've got no more ambition, I'll cut mine too". 

When I met my husband, I was rocking a 2 inch, bronze 'fro and have been every colour and length in the 5 years we've been married. 

On the natural hair scene in Nigeria
I think the natural scene is a lot more buoyant now. Dreads are actually quite common now. I've even converted my sister-in-law :)

In the UK, natural hair is seen as being a bit exotic I think, and for me that's a whole 'nother story around racism and the exoticism of the Black woman. 

My "natural hair journey"
I have fully accepted my natural hair and have no plans to return to chemicals. I love my 'fro. What I've noticed is that I've got a lot of shrinkage when I wear my hair out here and it's kind of tender. I haven't tried the tips on your blog yet, so there may be some improvement when I do.

To learn more about born2bebeautiful, check out their website here. Funmi also has a blog, which I spent ages reading after she told me about it. Check it out here.

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with us, Funmi!

1 comment

  1. wow, Nigeria needs more women like funmi. She is an inspiration. I can't belief the suitor really called her "not normal" I don't understand why so many black women are so attached with hair length, though majority of them have severely damaged hair that needs to be cut off.