After my first experience with wearing African Threading in public, I was feeling pretty bold. A few weeks later, my hair was annoying me and I didn’t know what to do with it so I thought, why not thread it again? This time around, I went to the salon.
At the salon, I showed them the style I was going for- the same one Yvonne Vixen Ekwere wore in this Fela-Inspired photo-shoot. They told me they did not know how to do it. That they could thread, but they didn’t know how to style the individual threaded pieces together. Welp.
I asked them where else I could get it done and they referred me to Mama Ade, just down the road.
This made me remember the first time I tried to get my natural hair styled in Calabar back in 2014. There was no Game of Fros then. I had gone to like 6, 7 salons and each one told me they could not cornrow and twist my natural hair. I eventually had to go all the way down to the Watt Market, to find someone that would. You can cornrow hair for weaves, and twist with extensions but you cannot apply yourself to cornrow and twist my natural hair because, “modern salon”? Sigh.
I know African threading hasn’t been popular for a very long time- but the whole thing got me thinking. Mama Ade looked about 50 years old. What will happen when all the Mama Ade’s of our world retire? Our indigenous styles like thread would be gone? Wouldn’t that be a shame? Sure, the natural hair salons would know how to do them, but then you’d be paying a premium for what Mama Ade does for cheap.
My Experience With Mama Ade
Mama Ade isn’t actually a salon owner. She sells drinks, but also does threaded styles at her shop too. She was wearing the kiko (thread) herself, and I noticed her hair was natural. She threaded my hair outside her shop, practically on the street corner. If you saw someone that looked like me one Sunday evening, yep that was probably me. I haven’t made my hair on the street/ in the open like that, since Calabar, but I felt really comfortable with her.
My hair was freshly washed, and a little damp. The first thing she asked me to do was to comb it myself. Then she detangled the hair section by section again with a comb, the right way- from ends to roots. After detangling each section, she put it in a loose bantu knot. My hair was in 20 to 23 bantu knots before the threading began. I was really impressed. She knew more about handling my natural hair than the people in the salon, who would have charged at least twice as much, to thread my hair. Altogether, the threading took us about 2 hours. I paid, and then I went home.
Why I Won’t Be Threading Very Often
The hair wasn’t too tight, but I have come to accept that I’m a little tender headed at the back of my head. My scalp did not take kindly to all the detangling, even though it did not hurt as at the time of doing it. You might be asking if skipping the thorough detangling is an alternative, but I don’t think that’s advisable. With styles like finger coils, thread, where your hair is kind of “locked” together (not sure if this is the right word) I think it’s best to detangle well, to save yourself the stress of even worse detangling when you take the hair down. Long story short, I definitely won’t be threading very often.
Should African Threading Remain in the Past?
I wore the thread for 2 weeks and a few days. At first, I would joke about it like, “Call me Eliza or Mosunmola till further notice” but then I stopped. Yes, threading was popular in the old days, but it is still a very valid hairstyle today. My name doesn’t have to change, I don’t have to be an Agbonma, or Mgbeke to wear thread.
I’m AB, a 90s baby and irun kiko/ isi owu/ African threading is just as funky to me.
Threaded styles can be dramatic, too. For me, this style I wore is very simple, nothing out of the ordinary- just, allowed me to protect my hair in peace! This African threading hairstyle on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is definitely more interesting.
For the time I wore it, it was an interesting conversation starter when I went out, and to my slight surprise, people really liked it. I say this not to say that they validated me- but for random people on the street, for people from different countries to tell me they liked my hair, this supports my argument that styling with African Threading still looks good in these our times, and I can’t imagine why it should ever stop being so.
That’s just me. I want to know what YOU think. Let’s talk about it in the comments! Have you tried threading lately? Would you try it? What do you think? Would you like threading to make a comeback, or it needs to stay in the past? Speak on it!