Hugh Masekela has been making headlines recently, but not for the reasons you’d imagine. Instead of reviews of his latest albums, listeners and readers have been treated to a no-holds-barred dissertation on how Masekela feels about African hair, and the way that people choose to wear it. In the words of Masekela, Africans have been having a ‘bad hair’ life, where decades upon decades of degradation have resulted in people viewing their natural hair as something that they should be ashamed of. Masekela published an essay on his website towards the end of last year where he explained why he has refused to have his photograph taken with women who wear weaves, or have used chemicals to straighten their hair. According to Masakela to do so would be to contradict the core values of the Hugh Masekela Heritage Foundation. The Foundation, which was established by Masekela, overlaps with the Ulwazi Programme in its attempt to record the memories of elders within communities, with the aim of preserving African “wisdoms and ancient know-how”. The Foundation also aims to research the genealogy of African people, promote the learning of native tongues, and revive indigenous artisanship.
Click here to view Hugh Masekela’s essay, simply entitled ‘Hair’. Regardless of your stance on the topic it makes for very interesting reading!
Photograph courtesy of africacenturyconference.co.za.