Witsie launches black beauty range

Photo: Mokgethwa Masemola

Witsie, Charlene Makita, launches a new range of black hair and beauty products. Photo: Mokgethwa Masemola

Wits doctoral student, Charlene Makita, has launched her own range of black haircare and beauty products using Moringa plant oil.
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Day 2 #Fees2017 roundup

Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande’s announcement on Monday regarding the university fee increments for 2017 has sparked protests under the Fees Must Fall movement on various university campuses in the country. Here is a roundup of what has occurred at Wits University this morning.

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What is black hair “supposed” to be like?

I LIKE MY BABY HEIR WITH BABY HAIR AND AFROS: WiSER associate professor, Hlonipha Mokoena discusses the complexities of natural black hair.

An uprising of discontent in resistance of racism, inherited colonial cultural norms and the education of desirability and female sexuality found a voice in multiple schools around South Africa last week, starting with Pretoria Girls High School (PGHS).

At the forefront of the PGHS resistance was the institutional policing of the natural black hair of its scholars, an issue which was the focus of a presentation by associate professor, Hlonipha Mokoena at WiSER on September 5.

“The whole aspect of the world would be changed if Black girls had long hair”,  a quote from Afrocentric anthropologist, Chiekh Anta Diop, which captures how the desirability of black women is policed by whiteness was the motivation for Mokoena’s topic.

Mokoena said that the expectation for the length of natural black hair is confounded by the concept of measurement. Mokoena explained that natural black hair is comprised of curls, and the coils of the curls vary from very tight to very loose which makes measuring the hair in its natural state very difficult. According to Mokoena, institutional policing of long natural black hair needs to be rethought because unless black natural hair is combed out, there is no telling its true length. She also critiqued the senselessness of the institutional regulations such as the length and width of braids and cornrows.

Black natural hair is not only questioned inside institutions like schools, said Mokoena. She argued that there are no safe spaces for black hair. On the street strangers touch black natural hair before asking if they may do so. People question a black person’s heritage due to the texture of their natural hair and even hairdressers refuse to do your natural black hair because of its texture. “Can I touch your hair? Where are you from? I cannot do anything with your hair unless I texturise it!” Mokoena said.

Mokoena stressed that black hair is “naturally dramatic”. “We don’t have anything to do with it, it’s dramatic, it doesn’t ‘flow’”, said Mokoena. She attributed the drama of natural black hair to the simple science of gravity and the fact that natural black hair defies it.

“People don’t know how much money is made in telling black women that they need straight hair”, said Mokoena as she presented the notion of “the professionalisation of hair”. Mokoena explained how hairdressers in the USA do not need to prove that they can style “black natural hair”, instead they focus on perfecting methods like relaxing, perming, and other black hair texture altering methods that are perfected.

“If black people are not trained to care for their hair, then who?” said Mokoena as she spoke of a “knowing” about black hair that is lacking. Mokoena highlighted that we all need to know how to care about black natural hair and dispel the myth that “it’s (hair care) supposed to hurt”.

 

RELATED ARTICLES

Wits VuvuzelaSLICE OF LIFE: Yes, this is my real hair, and no, you can’t touch it, March 2016.

Wits Vuvuzela, Slice of Life: How much longer?, August 2016.

Mail & GuardianFrom slavery to colonialism and school rules: A history of myths about black hair, September 2016.

 

Why do students drink?

Excessive consumption of alcohol is quite normal for South African university students. This is according to new research by the South African Journal of Higher Education which adds that students drink mainly for pleasure.

The study, Why Students Drink, found that students general expect to increase their social confidence, reduce tension and improve their sexual attractiveness.

Moreover, university students, as a sub-group of “young adults” that drink alcohol have “more dangerous drinking patterns” than their “non-student peers”.

For university students, “alcohol consumption and excessive drinking”, is a norm and simply a part of the university experience.

Gcina Mdluli, a university student, said that she drinks because it is “soothing.” She went on to say that drinking is “not momentarily to indulge and to get drunk, it is just a vibe”.

Wits BMus student, Cameron Bruce, said, “I drink because it is enjoyable and a lot of the people that I hang out with have a couple of beers all the time. But I drink purely socially.”

The study which was undertaken at a single, unnamed, campus in South Africa, aimed at changing the drinking behaviour of students. Mapping the drinking motives and patterns of these students will help to shape “effective education and responsible drinking programmes”.

The research suggests that “responsible drinking in moderation” be encouraged as opposed to highlighting the negative consequences of “excessive alcohol consumption”.