A letter to an African Child about her Hair…

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I went through a metamorphosis of thought and intent…

I made a thorough evaluation of everything I had to give to my unborn little girl…

How would I explain the world?

How would I explain inequality, racism, misogyny?

How would I instill a sense of worth and a sense of pride when I know that she will be a black girl in a world that has never made it easy for us to be who we are and proud of it?

So I wrote this poem…

When I allow my kinky coily tresses to see the light of day
I realize that in its natural state
My natural hair is a type of sunflower… ever reaching for the sun’s rays
Each follicle rises to give Him praise
So I rock my afro like a halo in the sanctity of His loving gaze
Declaring that indeed I am fearfully and wonderfully made…

When I allow the skin that I am in to radiate in all its splendour
I realize that my skin tone is nothing less than a thousand dazzling shades of bronze, copper and ochre
The colour of raw gold extracted from the heavily pregnant womb of my motherland
The colour of infinite grains of sand, ever-caressed by the Indian Ocean’s embrace
The colour of the African Savannah, the mystic Sahara, a flame in full blaze
My blackness is nothing but a reminder that this fertile soil that has yielded the most
brilliant of diamonds and precious stones should only serve to make me bold
Because when God formed man with African soil, on our skin, the richness of His glory has left its celestial trace…

When I speak in native dialects, I turn my tongue into a dancer
With each click and rolling of my lips, I echo ancient utterances once articulated by our common Bantu ancestor…

When I sway my hips to the rhythm of an African drum-beat
I am nothing less than a flowering Jacaranda in the August breeze
Adorned in purple, I am nothing less than Nubian royalty
I come alive in these bustling Joburg streets
My tapping feet are like raindrops in the Summertime
Each atom of my body was made to thrive in the sunshine

And that is what I will tell my girl child
When she asks me why her hair doesn’t lie flat against her back
The story behind her dark brown eyes, the shape of her nose, the thickness of her lips or her hips, or the colour of her skin….
You see, my child is an African
And I must prepare her to confront and deflect every generational misconception about her genetic disposition,
every lie and every public opinion that has plagued the African with shame
About our history, about our culture and has made us wish to jump out of our skins and
embrace everything that is without and nothing that is within…

She is an African…

And she is my darling daughter, my only child…

Every atom of her body was built to thrive in the sunshine…

She is not inferior; she is more than enough in more ways than I could ever begin to count

And her spirit was meant to rise and shine in her Heavenly Father’s glorious light!


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