Friday, February 22, 2008

Hair We Go Again: To Wash or Not to Wash

I feel a hair post coming on. It's been a while after all. I read this article yesterday about how there is a rising trend among some young American women of foregoing the benefits of shampoo. I first heard about this several years when I used to cruise natural hair websites and boards like they were closing shop the very next day. I was in a phase where a lot of my personal identity was caught-up in my hair. I was also growing out my hair from its former low-cut and needed guidance on how to manage it.

So then I came across the "no poo" strategy i.e. severely limiting or eliminating your use of shampoo altogether.

YUCK!! was all I could think. I'd heard all the stories before about how washing your hair less could make it grow faster. But, erm, HELLO, your hair and nails grow at the same rate and I can't see how letting dirt accumulate on your scalp could change that. Of course, there is the truth that washing your hair probably means less stress on your hair - especially that which will come from the blow-drying and combing that follows. This tactic is supposed to be especially suited to curly and kinky hair, which tend to be more fragile than Caucasian and Asian types of hair.

However, as I thought about it I realised that so many young women barely wash their hair anyway. Let's say you put in braids or a weave that have cost a fortune and you really want them to look good for as long as possible to maximise the amount of money you have spent on them. So, you don't wash your hair for fear that your newly acquired tresses will start to go fuzzy and look rough. Weeks eventually go by with nary a whiff even of shampoo coming anywhere near your hair. Hmmm, this trend towards uncleanliness should really give us reason to pause and contemplate our hair habits. (Hasty Disclaimer: Writing about this does not mean that I also am one of those who perpetrate such heinous crimes against hair.)

Anyway, the article does talk about how some young women are farming out the washing of their hair and returning to what their mothers and grandmothers used to do i.e. going into the salon once a week for a wash and set, or wash and style. It's funny, because about a week ago, my aunt and I were talking about the decline of this very same habit. She reminisced about the days when she used to go to the salon every weekend to get her hair done. I also remembered accompanying my mother to her salon every Sunday for her wash and set (in time, I too would visit the salon for my wash and set - although my visits were less regular than my mother's). There was a feeling of camaraderie, which is lacking in many of today's braiding shops. My aunt and I pondered on the reasons for the decline of the weekly wash and set and, in the end, we took the easy route and blamed it on a lack of time.

Anyway, like I know I have said countless times before, I would like to wean myself over what has turned into an over-dependence on braids. It's a convenient crutch for me. Let's just hope that it won't be all talk this time....

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why Girls Blog

I just read this New York Times article based on some recent research conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, which found that among Web users (in the U.S.) ages 12 to 17, significantly more girls than boys blog (35% of girls compared with 20% of boys) and create or work on their own Web pages (32% of girls compared with 22% of boys).

Some of the guesses floated for this in the article is that girls are socialised more to tell stories about themselves and others (or have a tendency to be more "confessional" than boys). Where guys do dominate is in posting videos and, according to one of the academics featured in the article, not because they are more skilled at it than girls but because "videos are often less about personal expression and more about impressing others. It’s an ideal way for members of a subculture — skateboarders, snowboarders — to demonstrate their athleticism."

According to another one of the academics interviewed, girls "from a young age ... learn that they are objects ... so they learn how to describe themselves. Historically, girls and women have been expected to be social, communal and skilled in decorative arts."

She continued, that this dominance by girls in creating web content, as a result of their communication skills would be called "the feminization of the Internet." Hmmm well, that certainly makes a change from the perceived masculinity of most other forms of technology.

It's always interesting to read the deductions made from research such as this. Of course, there are always a fair amount of generalisations made - and I guess that have to be made. I loved to write when I was much younger, but I think that my tastes always gravitated more towards the literary. It was less to do with my being a girl and expectations to be able to describe myself (and perhaps more influenced by upbringing). But then, I am one person and so it's difficult to say why other women blog, write or maintain websites.

In our society where oral story-telling is very much a part of the culture, such results perhaps might have been expected. But to really know, someone would have to do some research on online usage trends in Nigeria for us to know for sure.

AfricaNews Seeks Reporters

This is so bad! I feel like all I've been doing here lately is making announcements (sans my last post that really only fans of The Wire would care about). Ah well!

If there are journalists out there or budding journalists, you might be interested in writing for AfricaNews. Check out their site for more info on signing-up as a reporter.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Wire Season 4

Post for fans of The Wire:

Ah, the power of blogging. I asked and I received. I finished watching season 4 of The Wire. Amazing is all I can say. I watched and re-watched the first 2 seasons. I also watched all the commentaries, so I knew those 2 seasons backwards and forwards. With season 3, I watched that just once and didn't watch a single commentary. Plus this was about a year ago, so by the time I got season 4, my re-collection of the third season was very hazy. I debated re-watching the 3rd season before starting on the 4th season, but I too excited to start on the new episodes.

The story has developed a lot since the days when Avon Barksdale ran the drug trade in west Baltimore. Now a few years on, Avon is locked up for a long time, but a new kingpin, Marlo Stanfield, has emerged and taken his place. Life goes on whatever else happens.

The characters have progressed and grown in many ways (well, not everyone: Bunk still drinks himself sick). Each season highlights a different aspect of life in Baltimore. The first established the characters and laid a good understanding of Baltimore's drug trade; the second showed life on the docks; the third shows city politics; and the fourth on the school system. In the fourth season, you get an understanding of how such young children end up working in drugs. Although set in Baltimore, much of what occurs (if not all) takes place in other cities all over the world.

Non-Wire fans will wonder why I'm always raving about this show. You have to watch to understand. Anyway, I'm watching the commentaries of season 4 now. After that I'll re-watch season 3.

Here's a link to a sit-down with some of the cast members that my friend Funke sent me:,,2246952,00.html.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Domestic Violence

What do you do when you hear your next door neighbours fighting constantly? I have heard the fights between (I assume) the husband and wife for a very long time now. Typically the man is shouting angrily and the woman is returning his verbal assault with equal measure. Sometimes what you hear is sounds of beating and the woman screaming. Sometimes, it's the man thundering in pain and anger after (I assume again) the woman has flung a breakable object at him. A lot of times, you hear things been thrown about and a torrent of curse words. This is what is going on right now. This morning, it was the plaintive wails of a child being beaten.

The thing about violence within a family is that it is frequently endless. The father physically or verbally assaults the woman and in some cases she retaliates, in many cases she does not. Often, she feels that she is powerless. Always, the children are caught up in this spiral of violence as they suffer from a parent or parents who can only resolve disputes in anger. They also learn from their parents' relationship how to behave in their own social interactions.

Traffic, Traffic, Traffic

I know a lot of bloggers have written about the horrible traffic situation in Lagos, but this is one thing that Lagosians cannot complain about enough. Newline did a story on this night, tracing the gridlock from CMS to the Lekki-Ajah Expressway on a typical work morning. We all agree that the current situation is terrible.

On the island, the road expansion is the major source of the chaos. For a long time no one could actually tell what they were doing - it looked like they were dusting and cleaning up. Now, what feels like decades later (in truth, about a year and 3 months), we can see determined signs of progress. It looks like it will get a bit worse before it gets better. Okay, my little rant is over now.