Daddy Had An Afro ❤️
For as long as I could remember, my dad has always had the most glorious afro I have ever seen on a man.
Some of my fondest memories of bonding with my dad were when I would stand behind him in the bathroom and just watch this tall, dark man obsess about his hair. It was his ritual. His thing. And because I thought my dad was (and still is) the most handsome man I know, I watched.
Now, my dad’s just above 70 years old and that once beautiful Nta-ya-Canuba type of ‘fro is now a bit grey. Signs of his age are starting to peak through and I find myself overwhelmed at how fast time flies and the overwhelming fear that the inevitable is closer to happening. I find myself feeling like I don’t have enough time with this man. Like I’ve never had enough time but my soul-searching life views are a story for another day.
When I’m super emotional (a day such as this one), I remember a lot of the minor details.
I remember how richly dark his afro was. How thick/full it was! You know, back when I was a child and didn’t understand the personal boundaries of not touching a person’s hair, I had tried to break through the fullness that was his hair and touch his scalp.
People, I failed miserably. In my 20 something years of life, I have never seen and probably will never see my dad’s scalp. I remember how he’d ceremoniously add just a bit more water to his mane and how this was followed by combing. My dad’s Afro Combs had to be clean and they had to be pretty much perfectly made: No bulges, no uneven “seams”, soft and with no ends that would snag his hair.
There’s an art to how he did even the simple things. He combed his afro like he was painting art… Not like a stylist who’s combing your hair like she’s trying to pull out your grandchildren’s hairline before you even have your firstborn- but I digress.
Being the boundary-crossing last born “Daddy’s girl” that I was, I also tried to comb just the ends of his hair one day and I failed… on my first try. My small arms tried but the comb was going nowhere and I think when it finally moved it sounded like I’d yanked a Velcro strip open…
After he was done combing, I remember he’d pat his fro back down into shape and it was a sight to behold. A little more here… A little more there. Tweak the back a little and… he’s done.
And there he’d go… Off to work in his sharp well-fitted suits, designer spectacles and perfect afro. He was my definition of what a man should be and look like and he set the bar high for the rest of the men in my life (Maybe that’s why I’m still single 😅)
My dad also kept and still keeps his goatee. I don’t know his routine for that one but as always, he looks great. And you know the funniest part?
I never looked at my dad and thought his hair was ugly. I just never did…
But I would, later on, start to dislike mine and crave for a relaxer. Crave for my hair to be straightened all the time like the prettier girls. The ones who didn’t have beads at the front of their hair, the ones whose hair shined, the ones who teachers didn’t make hurtful remarks to because they were “more neat and presentable” while you had growth on your old school girl braids.
My dad valued my brain way more than colonial hair standards or neatness and he let me know that. He’d always let me teach him what I’d learnt in baby class that day and let me be excited and ramble on until supper or news came – whichever came first. So there I would be in absolute adorableness making my father recite his ABCs 😂 #GoodTimes
He’d sit me on his lap in the mornings when he was free or going into work a bit late and as a young toddler, I would read the newspaper word for word to him. And where I went wrong he would patiently correct me (and make me start reading the whole paragraph again until I said all the words correct). He showed me then that he valued my ability to articulate, communicate fluently and to learn way more than he valued how music-video worthy I looked like.
He’d bring me in front of the guests and let me greet them. I would speak to the old men & women, respectfully of course, and I would answer questions confidently. Even when I embarrassed him by answering the infamous question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with “A… Woman”.
My dad allowed me room to talk and he took time out to actually listen to what I was saying. And he proved to me that he valued my confidence, bravery and creative thinking more than he valued whether I looked presentable enough for society to think I was cute.
When I came to dent his pocket with my hair expenses, my dad would joke several times that If I cut my hair… It would be cheaper and I’d still look good anyway. He still gave me the money every time but somehow because of how and what he told me my value wasn’t in my hair or in my cute looks… It was in my being. In being me.
Later on, as I considered “going natural” amidst claims of looking unkempt, shady, crazy and all that other super positive stuff 😂… I’d remember my dad’s afro and his goatee and I’d think, this is what my dad gave me… And hair with the same texture my dad had, was never going to be ugly to me. It could never be when it had been so beautiful to me as a child.
So what’s my point with all of this? My point is… We, your children, we look up to you. So be present and make a consistent, deliberate attempt to actually get to know us and to build us up: our confidence, our esteem, our brains, our talents & our lives.
You want your sons and daughters to be proud of their genes? Of their hair? Of their heritage? Then show them by how you take care of yours and how you appreciate those of others like you.
We forgive you for where you went wrong (Hope you forgive us too?😊 ) and we love you!
Happy Father’s Day! ❤️