The 9 most popular Afri-love posts in 2010


I started this blog in June this year as an outlet for my passion for Africa and for the arts, culture and self-investigation. I've thoroughly enjoyed the many hours I've put into creating the content and I'm ever grateful for all the time you've put into reading, commenting, appreciating and sharing.

I posted a similar round-up a little while ago, on the blog's 5 month anniversary (yes, arbitrary I know). It does make a bit more sense to do so at the end of the year so, particularly for the benefit of all the new readers (welcome!), here are the 9 posts that were most visited in 2010. Common themes: art, hair and fashion…

Inspired by Dimitra Tzanos whose Greek and South African experiences were brought together in her design project "For the Love of Africa" (image above)

Le Coil: photography celebrating the beauty of afro hair 


The debut post in the Afri-love interview series: a spotlight on Chief Nyamweya, the artist behind Emergency Web Comic


The bold and beautiful Africa-inspired accessories designed by Rachel Stewart


An interview with enterprising designer, Mkuki Bgoya of Kina Klothing


Pilgrimages: illustration inspired by the ambitious literary project; writing interrogating the limits of our self-knowledge


The first post chronicling the third round of my natural hair journey 

Before before picture

An interview with Lesley of Ododo Originals whose passion is in full bloom


Female Relations: a peek at a painting series I recently exhibited



Images from top: design by Dimitra Tzanos; photo by Jamala Johns; illustration by Chief Nyamweya; photo courtesy Rachel Stewart; photo courtesy Mkuki Bgoya; illustrations by Lulu Kitololo; photo by Lulu Kitololo; photo courtesy of Lesley/Ododo Originals; painting by Lulu Kitololo.

Week in review

Week-in-review-gr-purp Le-Coil-wir




Staff Benda Bilili

I hope you all had a wonderful week. Thanks for reading – the blog received record hits this week. Our relationship with our hair is clearly one we take extremely seriously. I often wonder whether it is the hair itself or the rituals associated with getting your hair done. Whether it's the drama and presence that manipulation of our versatile curly locks can create or; whether it's the bonding, education and joy we get from the time spent together, doing each others hair. Either way, the love is clearly there. 

Here's a round-up of last week's posts, in case you missed anything:

A huge thanks to you for taking the time to read and share comments, facebook appreciation and tweet love. Remember, you can also get updates via facebooktwitter and by subscribing to the Afri-love feed.

Feedback is incredibly useful to me so, please drop me a line with any comments, suggestions, ideas etc.

Next week, look out for:

  • Quote of the week
  • When cultures collide – inspired fashion
  • Another interview with a talented person pursuing their dreams
  • More art and design inspiration
  • Celebrating Tanzania's Independence Day
  • TGIF!

Have a fantastic week! Be proud, be inspired and be thankful.



Images, starting 2nd from top: Le Coil photography by Jamala Johns; natural hair journey update; sex-ed murals in Tanzania; Kina Klothing tees; Staff Benda Bilili


Natural hair journey: 4 months on and getting my protective styling on


Since I cut off my locks in July, I've been a little bit obsessed with gathering information on how to care for my new 'fro. I was pleased to find that there is quite a wealth of information out there with women sharing their trials and triumphs via anecdotes, pictures, videos, recipes and more. Most of these ladies have been from the US and I know some African ones who are skeptical as to whether the suggested techniques will be as effective on kinkier manes. 

My hair is as kinky as it gets – I don't know anyone who has hair as tough as mine. Combs quiver when I'm in the room – they are usually not up for the challenge! That said, I thought I'd chronicle my journey for all those sisters with their work similarly cut out for them.

It all began here. My regimen since the big chop has been a twice weekly wash detangle and deep condition with no comb touching my hair in between. In the mornings, I spritz with a water and oil mixture and simply "fluff" out with my fingers. Recently however, with my hair getting longer, the finger styling hasn't felt presentable enough. So I decided to try and see if it was long enough to two-strand twist. It worked – my first conscious venture into protective styling! It took quite a while to get through my entire head but, the results (and convenience) was worth it.



Images: top – twists in, taken on the day after twisting (see the stubborn curls at the nape of my neck – hanging on to their autonomy!). Bottom – the second day of having the twists out. I managed to keep my hair decent-looking for 4 days after taking the twists out.

Celebrating our crowning glory: Le Coil


Le Coil is a beautiful celebration of afro hair (and the people who wear it!).

Founding editor and photographer, Jamala Johns, says she started Le Coil "to gather inspiration for myself both in terms of modern natural hairstyles but also for a more stylish and happier tone of imagery for women of color. Everything else has grown from there." 


Check out Le Coil for regularly updated inspiration.


Photographs by Jamala Johns. Top right image in montage is of former Miss Universe Tanzania, Flaviana Matata. 

Readiness (aka hair, health and wholeness)


At the beginning of this year, I decided that instead of creating resolutions, I would come up with a mantra for 2010. One statement that would sum up my goals and inspire me to drive towards them enthusiastically. I decided that this year would be the year of “doing and discovering.” Vague, yet empowering. The fact that these three words encompass so much, meant that I was setting myself up to succeed, rather than setting myself up to fail.

Continue reading “Readiness (aka hair, health and wholeness)”

My natural hair journey, part 3


I went for the chop, again, a couple of months ago. After 5 years of growing locs, and loving them, I decided to say goodbye. I think the barber knew what I wanted as soon as I entered the shop but he waited for me to speak. I told him my intention and he cried out in pain and carried on with that wounded spirit for the entire time he cut my hair.

Part 2
I had never had such long hair before: my locks had almost grown to below my shoulder blades. But it was time. Right now I’m convinced that I will definitely loc again but, I wanted a break to focus on inner things that I felt my hair was somehow distracting me from dealing with. Months later I have no regrets. In fact, I’ve never been happier and so fulfilled in all aspects of my life!

Part 1
I had an afro for 4 years before I had locs. I can’t lie, it was a challenge. I loved how thick my hair was but that came with it’s own battles, particularly after university when I got my first job. I felt that it was only presentable to wear my hair out every day and that meant daily combing and daily plaiting of matutas! That took a lot of time and I wasn’t schooled on best practice to ensure that my hair remained strong and healthy. So there were good days and bad days. Locking was in many ways a relief.

Part 3
So why am I excited about having an afro again? It’s an opportunity to enjoy all the things I loved about having an afro and importantly, to do things differently. I’ve been educating myself thanks to the great blogs and youtube channels out there (and books too, which are on my list!). It’s amazing the wealth of information people have shared. People, with hair like mine, who have tried, tested, failed and recovered from different natural hair care routines, techniques and so on.

Particularly of note is Kimmay Tube (thanks for getting me hooked Tamara!). Watch her hair journey here. (I’ve been using her leave-in conditioner recipe and it’s working a treat!)

There are several other ladies that I came across through Kimmay including: RusticBeauty, CurlyChronicles and CrownofHisGlory. Other great online resources include the blog, Black Girl Long Hair. Along with useful tips, Qs & As, there’s great inspiration from women with wonderful ‘fros and locs. Last week I also discovered Nappturality which has great information and a forum too.

The parts before…
I remember growing up, how doing each other’s hair was a fantastic cross-generational bonding ritual. Whole afternoons spent, nurturing our crowning glory, learning about ourselves, and through stories told by our mothers, learning about our culture and life. It seems then that we all had much more time then. I wonder sometimes whether it’s today’s fast-paced and increasingly individualist  lifestyle that has made that impossible? Or is it just down to the decisions we make and the priorities we choose?

One great point Kimmay makes is that, taking good care of your natural hair will probably take time. It’s the committment you make if you want strong, healthy hair. The same way you commit to devoting time for exercise, or anything else that you value.

Images: at top, my aunt doing my mother’s hair; my ‘fro at it’s longest; my locs at their longest and; me today, well… a month ago 🙂



I just discovered Wasijiru hair accessories while Black Girl Long Hair, resonating with other women who've let go of their locs.

From the Wasijiru profile page:


After cutting her hair in 2008, the designer searched stores for quality, chic, yet affordable scarves. The search proved futile, a niche was discovered, and the WASIJIRU line was born.

WASIJIRU is named after the designer's late grandmother and translates to "self confidence" … or "believing in one's self".

This line accentuates the natural confidence in a woman where it counts the most … her hair.