Meet Nibi who’s trying to start a natural movement in Nigeria 🙂

Where are you from?
N:
I live in Lagos, Nigeria and work in finance. I was born here, grew up in the UK, and moved back to Nigeria just over 4 years ago

What is the natural hair scene like in Nigeria?
N:
It’s pretty much rejected here for the most part. When I first moved back, I would constantly get comments at work especially (I worked in a bank), and have people asking me why I was natural and offering to relax my hair for me. I’ve been referred to as a “tree hugger”, amongst other things, and people have acted like I was making some sort of statement wearing my hair natural, when in reality, I just prefer the way it looks. I just found it all quite amusing.

Recently I have started to see more natural heads around, but they are still in the minority. Apart from the stigma surrounding natural hair (relaxed hair is still pretty much seen as the most acceptable), there are a lot of people who try to go natural but don’t know how. They use the wrong products with horrible ingredients, and so their hair is pretty unmanageable and not knowing what to do they hit the relaxer again. I started getting a lot of people asking me about my hair, how I found it so easy to manage, etc. And so I began informally dispensing advice, and have helped a lot of people to go natural or start transitioning.

The main problem I encountered when advising people in Lagos to stop using sulphate shampoos, or products with mineral oil, or to cut down on the cones used, they’d ask me for specific products they could use, and there was nothing in Nigeria I could recommend. That’s why I decided to start “The Kinky Apothecary”. I supply products that before now were impossible to get here. I make sure everything we supply is free of the nasty ingredients I mentioned above, so that even if people don’t have time to read labels, or understand ingredients, they can be assured that we’ve done it for them. Products range from the popular lines like Aubrey Organics and Giovanni, which are impossible to find here, to lesser known products, such as totally natural products made by people here and in other West African countries.

There is an abundance of good natural ingredients in Nigeria that our hair loves, such as shea butter, aloe vera, coconut oil, etc, so I teach people how to use what’s around them, but also try and make them aware of issues like the differences between oil and moisture, so they don’t just end up slathering shea butter onto dry hair and wondering why they end up with a bird’s nest. Eventually, I’m also going to develop my own line of products and the process is already in full swing. I believe that all this will contribute to changing the natural scene in Lagos, and it will become more common and accepted over time.

When did you go natural?
N:
I first went natural 11 years ago. I mainly did it because I experimented with my hair a lot at the time. A friend of mine went natural because her hair was breaking off, and I loved her twists. At the time I had a short relaxed hair cut. I generally hated going to get my hair relaxed as I would ALWAYS get burns, and I have never really liked other people doing my hair. So one day I just decided not to get a touch up. About 2 months after making the decision, I chopped off the relaxed ends.

In the beginning, I still treated my hair pretty badly, and would go to hairdressers here and attract a lot of attention with the smoke rising from my blowouts and the handfuls of hair flying everywhere. None of the hairdressers knew how to handle it, so there was a lot of rough treatment (e.g combing as if it was the most resilient hair-type when in reality it’s the most delicate).

I have done every imaginable thing to my hair – including dying it red myself using store-bought dyes. Miraculously it didn’t all break off, but the heat damage was pretty special. I then hit the kiddie perm, regretting it instantly and transitioned back to natural almost straight away. That’s when I started doing a lot of research, found all the forums and blogs and got a proper understanding of natural hair. Its only in the past 2 to 3 years that I’ve really learned about the importance of products and ingredients, and how to properly take care of it.

I would say the simplest version of my regime is cowash with Herbal Essences Hello Hydration or Trader Joe’s Nourish Spa, deep condition with Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner (although I have recently discovered Elucence Moisture Balancing Conditioner and am in love), apply Giovanni Direct Leave-in (Or Elucence again) to my hair in sections, and then twist (fat or small, depending on my mood) with my home made Shealoe whip, and seal the ends with castor oil. I normally just pin the twists up during the week, spray every night with a mixture of leave in, water and castor oil, and then I twist-out for the weekend. I do get bored easily, and experiment with other styles, but this is my go-to routine.

What would you like to see in Nigeria in terms of haircare?
N:
It would be great if there were salons dedicated to natural hair care, that understood the importance of ingredients, and actually knew how to handle hair. People think they know, but in reality have no clue.

Is there a blog/webpage where we can find you?
N:
I have a Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Kinky-Apothecary/ and the blog, which will be linked to that page, will be going up in the next few days.

The Kinky Apothecary is launching with a natural hair workshop called Champagne, Cupcakes & Curltalk where we will cover overhauling people’s regimes and general natural hair maintenance, giving tips on transitioning, understanding ingredients, and will also introduce products. The first will be this Saturday, May 8th, but I intend to hold these periodically every few months.

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noelliste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop culture and black beauty enthusiast. bell hooks' hair twin...

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43 Comments on "Nibi in Nigeria // Natural Hair Style Icon"

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those are usually two real objectives behind…

article writing, correct? to get the most from your efforts start with these article writing basics.# 1 do researchfirst, you must do some research. this should be two-fold. before you start writing you need to know what your readers will want…

towing a truck

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Kator
Yaaay! Nibi, it’s great to see you on bglh! Your hair is so beautiful.You have been a great help, i’m going to start being a Kinky Apothecary customer soon! lol Well, i am Nigerian, i live in Lagos and i have been natural for 3 years. I have gotten beautiful compliments and even had strangers walk up to me and touch my hair. The only negative comments i have gotten were all in the line of, “when are you going to relax your hair” or “it’s just a phase, you will soon go back to relaxers”. Harmless stuff! But the… Read more »
Megan
Its kind of ironic that here in America, going natural is you supposedly trying to go back to your ‘roots’ but not even the women where we come from has accepted the hair God has given them yet. I’m also Nigerian living in the US. My parents have seen me do any and everything to my head so they’re never surprised anymore lol. I’ve been natural on and off all of my life but Ill never get another relaxer again! I will be in my casket with a big giant afro waiting for my judgment from God. Why mess with… Read more »
Morenike

I am also Nigerian and newly natural (4 months now). I understand what people would probably say knowing nigerians. My mother saw my hair at first and straight up called it ugly. After 2 weeks, she then got accustomed to it. After a month, she was helping me do my twists. And after about 2 months, she is beginning to transition! The thing is that we Nigerian women who are natural can change the stigma by showing other black women how beautiful we are without the remi brazillian or inidian hair.
thank
ps I love your fro!

Feyi
I’m a Nigerian but I live in the US (DMV area). I have never permed my hair, since I was little I always braid it but I’ve also always hated it. Every time I took it out people would compliment me but that wasn’t the issue, it was me looking in the mirror and not seeing a pretty girl because my hair was nappy that made me hate my hair. For a long time I kept my hair in braids until one day I took it out and I realized that my hair got way past my shoulders and if… Read more »
Nnennaya

I have joined Nibi’s Kinky Apothecary blog. And am so looking forward to her next edition of Champagne, Cupcakes & Curltalk coming this July. Every since I bumbed in BGLH, I have gone Afro Crazy!!!
So having an ‘Afro’ community here in Naija is a welcoming idea.
Way to go Nibi!!!!

Tayo

I transitioned about 2 years ago and now currently wearing my hair out. My mom hates it and request that I get it relaxed like I used too. She went as far as asking my sister to beg me to perm my hair. I’m Nigerian and it is ridiculous that our kinky hair is rejected by our own kind. I love what you are doing there, please keep it up!

Peju

No natural movement in Naija? is she serious.. no sis.. I applaud you for trying to bring European products home but um, this is what we do in Naija!

I was just home about 2 months ago and most women have natural hair they just braid it and do not wear it as Afro…. which of course I think i pretty but I understand it’s hard to manage for any woman. but um no, there are tons with natrual un relaxed hair, they just braid it for the most part and that is OUR movement.

Yvette

I love this post! Although I’m not Nigerian (I’m Ghanaian) I can definitely relate. The same thing going on over there is what’s going on in Ghana and with those in abroad. When I went back home, I was shocked to see so many of my family members, from 5 – 60 years old, with relaxed hair. They’ve definitely taken on the Western ideals, almost to the extreme, and embracing natural hair is going to be a rough road. It’s great that you’re trying to start at home first. Kudos 🙂

Ada

@abby
how do you falsify peoples experiences when you do not know them?e are you implying that the stories they are told are false? your experience might be totally different from theirs but that doesnt make theirs incorrect. so there is no “notion for you to correct” mmmkay
and without even having two heads it is quite is easy to see just walking the streets of nigeria that natural hair is not the majority. please do not belittle peooples experiences it is quite rude

Nibi
@ Abby- Thank you very much for your comment. I wasn’t going to respond individually, but I felt that I had to answer yours. I started The Kinky Apothecary based on MY experiences, and the experiences of people who approached me and asked about my hair. Unfortunately, I did not invent the fact that people have and frequently do make negative comments about my hair. At the workshop on saturday, quite a few people mentioned that they had experienced negative reactions to their hair, especially at work. One lady told us how she had once been sent home by her… Read more »
abby
See…I commend you cos I know that what you are doing is for a good cause.Nevertheless, I will like to correct one notion.That a person carries natural hair in nigeria doesn’t make them a “MINORITY” as you put it. I am nigerian, lived the first 19years of my life in nigeria so I know. Yes, people with natural hair are first seen as religious because there are churches in nigeria that promote that but that is about it. People don’t call you names because you have natural hair. No, it is very accepted, yes very hard to maintain cos of… Read more »
Nibi
Thank you guys for all your wonderful, supportive comments. I really am touched. And its so great to hear from so many other natural Nigerians. Its sad to hear we’ve all experienced negativity as a result of choosing to wear our hair the way it was given to us, especially at home, but hopefully this will all change eventually. The workshop yesterday showed me that it has already begun. I’ve had the same comments where people suggest you can’t be ‘fully black’ if your hair grows long or if its curly, or they are convinced its a weave, or say… Read more »
Lara

Kudos to you & your endeavors, Nibi! I love reading about my Natural Nigerian sisters – it lets me know that we all haven’t succumbed to the creamy crack! I’m based out of the U.S. & I haven’t gotten to chance to go back home yet – but I’m glad that you’re reaching out to those who are new to being Natural!

Again, kudos! =)

kechy
21.CO 8 May 2010 at 9:40 am Permalink Ahh this is exciting. I am Nigerian as well, natural for about 9 years now. I would love to meet up with the other nigerians located in the abj area. Is it possible to get the contact info of Nibi so I can further discuss with her. THANKS I wore my hair natural and i got some positive comments. However got some along the lines of why is a grown woman still carrying virgin hair, don’t you want to relax your hair, why don’t you do your hair. [Thankfully I love my… Read more »
CO
Ahh this is exciting. I am Nigerian as well, natural for about 9 years now. I would love to meet up with the other nigerians located in the abj area. Is it possible to get the contact info of Nibi so I can further discuss with her. THANKS I wore my hair natural and i got some positive comments. However got some along the lines of why is a grown woman still carrying virgin hair, don’t you want to relax your hair, why don’t you do your hair. Thankfully I love my hair and just looked at folks as though… Read more »
Mz.T
It’s sooo great to see this! I’m Nigerian too. I did my BC 4years ago when I was in TX. I moved back to Nigeria this year and started wearing my puff… Let me tell you the reception has been horrible. Some girls ask if my hair is a weave and don’t believe when I say it’s not. Some people have asked why I’m natural (what kind of question is that) like it’s a bad thing. Finding products here in Nigeria really is difficult, so I will definitely be contacting you about that. I haven’t physically seen any other natural… Read more »
Cherri

More power to you Nibi! This sounds great!

Black Married Momma

ChiNigerian,

That’s it – dada hair! I once had a friend from Nigeria in high school and early college who mentioned that term to me. This was years ago, but I remember she said they believe locks are the symptom of a deranged individual.

So, if I went to Nigeria right now (where DNA testing links my paternal DNA – Yoruba), they would think I was off my rocker!? That is so bizarre, especially seeing how Nigerian brothers I have met LOVED this sister when I was still single!

Michelle

It hurts me to know that you can’t even wear your hair natural in West Africa..that’s crazy to me. I don’t see anything wrong with straightening it, but to belive that you HAVE to straighten..in Africa..sounds nutts..It goes to show that colonialism affected Africans as well as it’s diaspora. I also can’t believe that black women accept the fact that sodium hydroxide is ok to use for their hair. Why can’t scientists come up with something better, there are cars running off of water but sodium hydroxide is still used on hair? It’s ridiculous.

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[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Black Girl Long Hair, Leave In The Kinks. Leave In The Kinks said: Support the natural movement in Lagos!! http://bglhonline.com/2010/05/nfatw-nibi-in-nigeria/ […]

Nena
Im a nigerian natural newbie (BC’d Christmas day 09). Sadly i’v hardly worn my real hair out, i keep it hidden under weaves n wat nots for work.It breaks my heart that my beautiful coils cannot see or breathe bcos of the society in which i live. Nigerian women cringe @ the thot of letting go of the their relaxers and i’v had friends say things like “take off yr clothes n walk the streets in the nude, so every1 knows you’ve gone mad,” or “U have to have some white in you to go natural.” I’v seen so many… Read more »
Eniola

My God, I nearly cried with joy when I saw this. Nigerians living abroad in the US and the UK already know how hard it is to be natural, with the abuse coming mainly from your family (the plaintive stares are the worst….) and I’m so glad that someone is in Nigeria themselves, starting a mini revolution!

I hope God blesses your endeavours! 😀
x

Ruky
This is so inspiring. I’m literally the only Nigerian in my circle with Natural hair. I’ve got my younger sister on the band wagon & I think she was inspired because I did not back down in spite of the “jokes” and “silly comments” of taking my “African-ness” to another level (whatever that means). We are NOT allowed to wear our natural hair out for our sister’s wedding this summer in Nigeria(it is NOT an option). I discussed the idea of locs to a few older women. Their advice – “Do whatever you want, Loc it, Tie it, Shave it… Read more »
AtEase

Nigerian matriarchs can be HILARIOUS:

“Do whatever you want, Loc it, Tie it, Shave it all off, whatever – as long as you get MARRIED FIRST”

Rofl!

I realize this statement could have been painful and blunt. But honestly with certain relatives you just have to laugh. They mean well.

chinigerian

@black married momma….EVEN WORST….they call it dada hair…i know cause i have locs and it is a no no in Nigeria..I don’t care anymore though, i don’t fit any of the negative stereotypes of loc wearers but ppl still judge, im a pastors kid so its even harder,i love NIgeria and go often but my dad says i cant come to nigeria with my hair locked. I have only one life to live…i cant live it for others. Especially when other are wrong.
Ex-conformist
http://thesimplynatural1.blogspot.com/

Black Married Momma

This is such an interesting profile.

How are locks viewed in Nigeria? I have heard that they are correlated with mental illness or devilment. I’d love to hear your take.

Vonmiwi

Good luck to her because to have natural hair is now a no-no in Nigeria. Some women believe it’s not “Afropolitan” enough to expose our roots.

Jacquie

Yay!!! Go Nigeria 🙂

I’m from London, but my heritage is Nigerian and whenever I vist there, they are so shocked that someone from the West has natural hair. They stare, ask questions and tut… but I take this all in my stride.

So pleased to hear there is a shift in attitudes, and this lovely lady, Nibi is helping others to learn more about their hair types. She has such lovely hair too!

http://magdaleneloves.blogspot.com

C.O

I absolutely love this. It’s great that you’re trying to heigthen awareness on natural hair back home. This is a beautiful thing!!!

& you have luscious hair.

Anuli

I love this idea. It’s hard to be a natural Nigerian because relaxed hair is the hair of choice there.

kechy

oh my gosh. nibi. i live in Port Harcourt and trust me there is really nothing here i could use on my hair. so i try to go to do everything from formulating to what have you. i don’t even use a shampoo. i use Dudu Osun black soap. my dear i really do need to check out your link because i really need products like mad and thanks for making feel like I’m not the only NATURAL NIGERIAN IN NIGERIA.

ScrewyHair
Great story. I’m Nigerian, moved back home from the US 4 years ago, and I’ve had natural hair almost 12 years now. My sister’s been natural almost 13 years and one of my brothers has the most gorgeous locks that are down to the middle of his back now. I did a big chop about a month ago for several reasons, one of them being that I let the salons touch my hair 🙂 and another being that I needed to learn how to take care of my hair in a different climate. (I’d been in the US 10 years.)… Read more »
kechy

oh my gosh. nibi. i live in Port Harcourt and trust me there is really nothing here i could on my hair. so i try to go to do everything from formulating to what have you. i don’t even use a shampoo. i use Dudu Osun black soap. my dear i really do need to check out your sit because i really need products like mad and thanks for making feel like I’m not the only NATURAL NIGERIAN IN NIGERIA.

puff

It makes me so happy to see a fellow natural Nigerian doing it big! 🙂 Your hair is gorgeous, and I’m sure you’ll inspire more of our fellow countrywomen to leave the relaxer behind.

ScrewyHair
Great story. I’m Nigerian, moved back home from the US 4 years ago, and I’ve had natural hair almost 12 years now. My sister’s been natural almost 13 years and one of my brothers has the most gorgeous locks that are down to the middle of his back now. I did a big chop about a month ago for several reasons, one of them being that I let the salons touch my hair 🙂 and another being that I needed to learn how to take care of my hair in a different climate. (I’d been in the US 10 years.)… Read more »
NappturallyNigerian
Wow Nibi you have lovely hair! As a British/Nigerian I am so glad to see more Nigerian sisters advocating natural hair in Nigeria, and promoting it through great sites like bglhonline.com. I went to Nigeria last year after I did my BC and received soo many negative comments, and most of them sadly were from my own family. Despite being told that I had reduced my bride price, it didn’t deter me thank God! But I can completely relate to your experience, so thanks for sharing. I am very much proud to be Nigerian and British, and wish more Nigerian… Read more »
dammie sobowale

Wow!!! Nibi, am also a Nigeria i live in Lagos but currently in Abuja on nysc… i work in a bank too, am newly natural(bc-nov)and i wear my hair most in braids and wigs. when i try to wear my hair out, i get serious looks and comments…thanks, u really inspire me.

Ada

omg my heart is so warm right now. I have always wondered what the hell I’ll do if I go back home and how my hair will cope.
now I know who to call. and she mentions all the products I so love
we should have a natural hair meet up come december, in nigeria

I wish, hope and pray that with time Nigerian girls will embrace their natural texture and it wont be seen as something out of the ordinary

your hair is so freaking gorgeous!!

AtEase

+1

Anon

Great idea! I’m Nigerian (via US and UK) and although haven’t visited in 5 years (been natural 5 years as well), I understand the need for a forum where Nigerian women can discuss/buy natural haircare products/generally support one another re natural hair.

While I’ve experienced the typical random comments about my hair from Nigerian relatives/friends, it seems perceptions are improving, though. 234Next, a Nigerian newspaper, recently ran a feature titled “Curly, Pretty Things” on Nigerian women with natural hair in their beauty section. There’s hope yet!

http://234next.com/csp/cms/sites/Next/ArtsandCulture/Elan/Beauty/5544350-147/story.csp

AtEase

Just please don’t forget the hair science part. There are reasons why coconut and shea work well. There are also reasons why a strictly co-washing routine does not work for everyone. (and why mineral oil isn’t necessarily the BEST but is not EVIL) Knowledge about hair is empowering. Keep up the good work.

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