Education in Children’s care:

On Hair

They say hair is a woman’s glory. As a little girl I fancied having long hair, and I did for a while. We were still living in Nairobi then, and at the time, you would find most schools in the city allowing girls to keep long hair. But when we moved to the village later on, and I had to change schools, I received a shock. Everybody in the school was required to shave their hair off. I cried the first day, but eventually I got used to it.

My school’s policy on hair was not the only one of its kind. It’s not uncommon for Kenyan schools to require girls to shave their heads — caring for it can be time consuming. Time better spent, as some will say, studying. Its part of a larger culture in some African areas  that places high value on work, including school, and frowns on any trivialities that may get in the way. 

Thankfully, I didn’t have to shave my head forever. When the time came to join high school,  I was very excited because I could grow my hair out again. I was lucky enough to go to a school that allowed girls to keep their long hair — it was a girls’ school. We had a very interesting school principal. While some high schools still promoted girls shaving their hair, our principal wouldn’t hear of it.

She would tell us “I am grooming ladies, not hooligans.” 

She encouraged us to walk fast rather than run  and carry our sweaters on our arms like ladies, not around our waists or shoulders. About hair she would say, “I don’t want to see your scalp. If you really must shave, make sure I don’t see your scalp. Just trim it” 

The girls in our micro communities face this hair dilemma as well. They shave their hair because of their school ‘s policies. They get excited  to graduate high school because it signifies the start of being in control of their own hair styling! By the time they join college, they already have some hair to plait, while others chose to relax their hair. 

Written by Dorice Lusuli, Sponsorship & Alumni Program Coordinator in Kenya