Natural hair in the Nigerian Diaspora... Geri

Hi guys,

I haven't posted one of these up in a while even though I have quite a few lined up, so best get back to it!

Who better to get us back into the swing of things than one of my new blogosphere bestos Geri, aka Geraldine the Great. Geri has been able to retain a phenomenal amount of length in the 3 years she's been natural. Anyone who thinks "black hair doesn't grow" should check out the pictures on her awesome blog, Geraldine The Great

I first noticed her hair on the Zina Saro-Wiwa natural hair documentary I posted on the FB page, and recognised her immediately when she was featured on BGLH not too long after. She says we're hair twins because we have similar textures. I say "I WISH!"

Here's what she has to say...that is, if you can tear your eyes away from the pictures of her hair...

Photo courtesy of subject

Nde wo!  Mokom!  Ba wo ni!  Sannu!  Hey guys!  My name is Geri.  I'm a writer, blogger, and makeup artist.

On where I'm from 
Ah!  I love and hate this question.  When you're a Nigerian living abroad, there's always a seemingly overly-complicated answer to it, that some people just don't understand.  They want you to say, I'm A and I'm from B.  Simple.  But for me it's this: I was born in Alabama, but I've lived in Atlanta, Ga for most of my life.  Most importantly, I'm a child of two Igbo parents, so I'm from Owerri, Imo State, and I currently live in New Jersey.

Photo courtesy of subject

My natural hair journey
Photo courtesy of subject
I've been natural for over 3 years. Why did I decide to go natural? I've got two answers to this. The short answer, is that a weave that was left in too long, severely thinned out and weakened my hair.  I swore to never allow anyone to do my hair ever again- weaving or relaxing.  

The long answer is that naturally, my self-imposed restriction led to months of new growth, where I finally began to question the whole point of relaxers on my hair in the first place.  When I couldn't honestly answer that question for myself, and after I researched and found out that I had been religiously adhering to a practice with no real knowledge of why, I decided I owed myself the task of finding out exactly what my hair was about, without a chemical straightener.  

My big chop experience
Photo courtesy of subject
I didn't set a specific date for my BC.  I transitioned with kinky twists, and after I spent an embarrassing amount of time removing them one night, I decided to go ahead and take the leap in cutting all of my relaxed ends off. 

I was definitely excited, apprehensive, afraid, and everything else in between.  I was taking a leap into the unknown, so I wrestled with a lot of confusing emotions.  Once I was done, I was definitely more excited than afraid, about embarking on a new adventure.

How people reacted to my hair
My boyfriend supported my decision to go natural.  He always says that he doesn't really have a stake in what's on my head, but rather in what I'm about as a human being.  But today, I think he's secretly actually very invested in my natural hair. Lol. He is my biggest supporter.  

My family members had varying reactions about my hair.  I don't even think my father noticed that my most of my hair had disappeared and was replaced by a curly twa.  My younger sister was and still is extremely supportive.  She's also natural.  My mother, brother, and older sister were just shocked that I cut my hair.  I think they were more taken aback by the length of my new hair, and not the texture.  I also don't think they understood what it meant to be chemical free.  My mom actually thought I had cut my hair because of the recession and that I was sporting a jerry curl instead!

I can't say that I've encountered any challenges that have inhibited me from wearing my natural hair.  I think I've been somewhat lucky in that regard, and my heart goes out to anyone who experiences any challenges that prevent them from wearing their hair in their natural state.  Please hang in there.

I have, however, definitely received my fair share of unsolicited comments about what I should do with my hair, or why I'm wearing my hair this way.  I've also gotten hair molested by my boss at work, who once announced to anyone within earshot, that he could use my hair as a soft mop to clean his floor, and that he also thought wearing my hair in a puff was unprofessional. 
Photo courtesy of subject
My natural hair in Nigeria
Photo courtesy of subject
I was in Naija last Christmas, but I wore a wig for an entire month.  I had braids underneath the wig that I kept planning to undo, so I could rock a huge braid out, but after dealing with the interesting harmattan dust coupled with the humidity, I opted for the easier route, and hid my hair under a wig. 

Simply put, I didn't really know what to expect, so I relied on my backup wig and head ties.  My hair benefited from the protective style, but I also didn't learn how to handle my hair in Nigeria.  So, the next time I go back home, my natural hair will be the most memorable thing about me, as I will be wearing it out constantly.  

As far as receiving any comments, the first time I co-washed my hair, my aunt accosted me in the hallway, and demanded I explain to her why my hair looked the way it did.  She wanted to know why I didn't just relax it.  After my brother and I, explained to her that I preferred having natural hair, she relented and stated that I was natural because my hair resembled those of the Fulanis that lived and worked in Port Harcourt.  I think it was the only way she could reconcile why I didn't have a relaxer.

My views on natural hair before I went natural
Before I went natural, I was the perfect relaxed girl.  I followed my stylist's advice and strictly kept to my appointments.  Natural hair definitely flew below my radar, which is ironic, because I had been a natural child when we lived in Nigeria.  
Photo courtesy of subject
There is such a thing as mental conditioning, and even if we aren't aware of it, we are all subject to it, because we are affected by the same things in the world.  I relaxed my hair because I had been trained to do it without question.  Because I robotically relaxed for over 20 years of my life, I had no real views about natural hair at all. 

My regimen  
I'm a low manipulator.  So, I shampoo and detangle my hair, about once a month.  I have dense, bra strap length hair with tiny coils, so the less manipulation I subject my hair to, the easier it is for me, and the better it is for my hair retention.  

Photo courtesy of subject
I have no set cowash schedule, so it varies how often I do it.  Most of the times, I just pay attention to the way my hair feels and looks.  If there is excessive buildup, I will shampoo with Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat shampoo, and if my hair feels extremely dry, then I cowash with Aussie Moist or Vo5 conditioner.  My hair loves creamy moisturizers and oils, so I rotate coconut, avocado, or olive oils, and I also use my conditioners as leave ins.

Photo courtesy of subject

Geri on the Internet
In addition to my blog, you can find me on Facebook. You can also follow me on twitter and instagram @Gerimua.

(PS: Geri has also recently started her own youtube channel. Make sure you rate and subscribe!)

Advice for new naturals
Please do not let your doubts, fears, or anxieties, prevent you from standing apart.  You are brilliant enough to shine just on your own, but also know that you are a part of a global community who embraces all parts of you.  There aren't any rules to this natural hair thing, as you are already stepping outside of them, just by being true to who you are.  

Photo courtesy of subject

Thanks Geri. Now I'm back off to your blog to do a little more stalking!


  1. Geri has beautiful hair and the work she's doing raising awareness about going natural is amazing. I'm curious about that boss of hers! SMH at him.

    I like the point about no rules when going natural. Come as you are and be true to you. So true!

    Great job on the post, btw. Well done!

  2. YAY, Geri has serious drool worthy hair. Her blog also rocks, definitely representing Team Natural Nigerians to the fullest.

    Great post as usual Nibi.

  3. she's officially my hair idol. I wonder how long it takes her to wash and style that hair. And how long it takes to air dry it.

  4. Kai, when will my hair be as long as this naaa?

  5. Her hair is the bitness! I spent an hour on her blog the first time you mentioned her a while ago. Amazing retention in 3 years! It's funny how some Nigerians assume natural hair is "manageable" or "grows" only for people of mixed heritage, or that having loosely textured hair implies "manageable" hair. I guess the more we discuss natural hair and show what can be achieved, perceptions about what is or isn't "manageable" will change.

  6. Oh my daysss I am in love with her hair! Can I propose? Is it weird to propose to someone's hair? Yes you say? Oh. I still love it anyway! Gorgeous!

  7. beautiful...about to go find her right now on instagram!

  8. omg im nigerian an i love her story! whats her name on fb?

  9. wow!!!the blog is very interesting and making me curious to know about her.keep blogging.

    healthy hair