My Worries Escalate As She Goes To High School

My youngest sister, Mbali, will be a grown up soon- she is going to high school in a few months. I am quite excited for her; my parents will have one more stubborn human being to deal with and support as she endeavors with high school.

I am proud that she will be venturing into a make-or-break phase of her life, which five of her older siblings have gone through decades before her. I am also scared and worried for her. She is young, smart, ambitious, beautiful and tenacious. I know she will meet someone, fall in love and become secretive.

I am scared that she has to twist herself into shapes so that she can be accepted and she might become a square cube in a round hole.

I am scared that my little smart, ambitious, tenacious and gifted sister might be refused admission because she has dreadlocks. A lot of high schools in South Africa force students to cut their dreadlocks because they are “unacceptable”. Students are ridiculed and humiliated in front of other students and teachers because their hair is “dirty” and “untidy”. No one says anything about it. It is acceptable to do so.

It is argued that South African schools have transformed since the dawn of democracy but the “acceptable” hair for girls is tied-back pony tails with straightened hair and a bald head for boys.

We live in a country that wants to preserve its heritage but it embraces and adores institutional ideals that are rooted in apartheid tenets and the oppression of black men and women; and looks down on key things that make up our heritage- our identity and our culture; dreadlocks.

Our country adores students with blonde colored and straightened hair but looks down upon those who embody the black South African heritage by locking their hair. I am scared that she will constantly explain herself to her peers why at age eleven, she chose kinky and dreadlocked hair instead of continuing with saturating her hair with straighteners and hair line murderers.  Above all, I am terribly worried that she will be surrounded by ponytail hair looking people and classify them as beautiful and forget that she too, is beautiful in her non-extended hair and black skin.

It is worrisome that the black people have been made to forget their heritage and even ridicule those who choose to embrace it. It frightening that the ignorance of our identity is likened with transformation and progress yet we lose who we truly are. It is worrying that a country that so desires the emancipation of a black people does not allow us to feel liberated in our own skin.

I do not blame the teachers who will force Mbali to cut her hair. In all honesty, I feel bad for them. I feel bad that they have allowed white supremacy to creep into their institution and overlook the black identity. I feel exceptionally awful and worried for them because they are fueling a vehicle that has distorted, disfigured and destroyed their identity as a people.

If dreadlocks are “dirty” and “untidy”, then so are the black people and our culture. Should we keep quiet and not act whilst such creeps into [our] institutions?

2 Replies to “My Worries Escalate As She Goes To High School”

  1. Firstly I want to congratulate Mbali on having gone this far, yet so close to explore this wold! Indeed our nation is going down. It was initially blamed on the so called “oppressors”, the whites, but now we have power and guess what? We all want to be superior with Nonsense rules! As for natural hair and dreadlocks… We as a black nation initially didn’t have all these cream hair relaxer products so Natural hair was a thing! So it also amazes me to have “ALL BACK” schools denying us what is originally US!

    Where is the black nation heading to? It scares me every time when I thing about this whole thing….
    Are we safe in this world? Should we prepare for the next world war? What history are we going to teach our kids?

    Ngwao ya rona ya nyelela bathoong!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Its a shame, a shame that how one looks determine ones chances of progress. A shame that we’re allowing the perpetuation of this kind of mentality. Might I suggest however, that while white supremacy is a tenant that still lives, there has been a shift, an undeniable shift of power- the ‘black’ has been at the for-front of politics influence for 20years now. Stating the obvious is important, however being oblivious to who actually has the power, thus who should actually influence the change of mindset is something we should not fall for. We can’t count on whites to become inferior just for us to prove our superiority, its high time we lifted our shackled bodies and walked towards our own emancipation. Brilliant article my friend! Thank you so much for sharing your talented thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

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