VOL 2: OCT-NOV 2016
NATURAL HAIR & LIVING MAGAZINE
LAYOUT & DESIGN:
Nali Wafula Imende
HAIR & MAKEUP ARTIST
PUBLISHING, MARKETING & DISTRIBUTION
Idea Agency Limited
QUESTIONS & FEEDBACK
COPYRIGHT © 2016
The Hairpolitan Magazine is published for Idea Agency
Limited. All articles, interviews, photographs, artworks
and/or designs of any nature or description appearing in
this publication are exclusively reserved for the
management and team of The Hairpolitan Magazine.
The contents and opinions expressed in this publication
do not necessarily represent those of The Hairpolitan
Magazine or of Idea Agency Limited. Therefore
reproduction, in any form, in part of whole, without the
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All Rights Reserved. All Advertisement claims in this
publication are the prerogative of the Advertisers and in
no way reflect the views of The Hairpolitan Magazine.
WHY ESTEEM IS
YOURS TO KEEP
By Nepurko Keiwua
This month’s issue comes out at a time, when women
the world over feel like they are in a battle for their very
survival. In the recent past, we’ve watched South
Africa’s schoolgirls march in the streets as they strive to
fight for the right to wear their natural hair as they
please. We highlighted this and other issues affecting
women across the globe in an article titled No
Womaning Allowed in the month of August.
Stemming from that, the Hairpolitans decided to title
this issue African Esteem because we feel like our sense
of worth needed a shot in the arm. From an early age,
we must be encouraged to believe in ourselves, to
understand that we are enough, so that when we are
grown, we can appreciate those who welcome those
very qualities in us, as our friends and lovers.
We aim to be the voice that tells the youth, and
particularly, young girls, that the journey towards self
love is imminent and tough but we shall get there, so
just hang in there and keep your chin up. African
Esteem means that if you decide for yourself that you
are beautiful, you must be. If you decide to be yourself,
then that is beauty in its quintessential form and no one
can take that truth away from you.
In this issue’s cover, meet Jeniffer Githae and get to
learn more about her in our COVERGIRL’S 21
QUESTIONS (Page 4). Wagio Mokaya looks into the
resurgence of African Threading hair dos in STYLE
(Page 5 & 6). We then find out how the Hairpolitan
Debut at the Hair Beauty and Personal Care Expo
2016 went down in our SPECIAL FEATURE (Page 7).
Connect with Nali W Imende as she chats with Taruri
Gatere, founder of FlawntIt, a body positive
campaign in LIFE (Page 8 & 9). Then examine a
revolutionary hair manipulation comb, made by
Africans for African hair in REVIEW (Page 10 & 11).
Chill out with Karimi Kagwe in RAISE (Page 12-15)
as she chats with two families that are raising girls
and see how they deal with the issue of self-esteem.
The month of October is not only Breast Cancer
Awareness month, but also a month where
Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance is
commemorated on the 15th of October. To help
raise awareness on this, Wambui JL sits down with
Wanjiru Kihusa of Still A Mum, to discuss the varied
issues that arise within families after losing a baby in
FEATURE (Page 16-19).
Mumbi Muturi-Muli of Harvest of Sunshine shares
with us her inspiration and aspirations for her hair
and skin care line in INDUSTRY (Page 21-22). While
Nina Odongo, our resident fitness fiend, helps us
understand Body Mass Indexing what it represents
for African women in MOVE (Page 23-24).
Ciku Wamae educates us on proper eyebrow
grooming and care in an effort to confront her own
esteem challenges in KNOW (Page 25-26). Then we
find out how the Awali Afro Fest and Hair, Beauty
and Personal Care Expo went down in ENJOY
In this Issue’s CREATE (Page 32-36) we join Mutua
Matheka in his quest to decipher what it means to be
black in this day. Then Wachirah Gitahi of Movember
KE helps us understand what the movement is about
in GUY (Page 37-38). Lastly, flip to the FICTION
(Page 39-40) section and join an old friend of mine
and your soon-to-be new friend, Beauty as she
navigates her life’s esteem challenges.
This issue is one that has been close to all our hearts
and has been a labour of love for most of our writers
as we sought to understand the challenges and
obstacles we face in our daily lives with regards to
esteem and self worth. It cannot be stressed enough
that no one can take your esteem away unless you
give it away, so fight and hold it firmly in your
grasp because self esteem is exactly that, esteem
of the self.
IN THIS SEGMENT
WE ASK THE
GIRL 21 QUESTIONS
WITH AN AIM TO
GET TO KNOW HER
Cover image Credits
Hair Styling: Dorothy, Amadiva Salon 14 Riverside
Makeup: by Wacuka Thimba Artistry
Clothing: Tatu Waterfall Cardigan by Mambo Pambo
Jewelry: Zanta Adeyde www.facebook.com/zantabeads
Photography: Samuel Githegi www.thegithegi.com
Featuring Jennifer Githae
When I get up each morning I pray and put
my day in God's hands.
I cannot live without books. I always have one
The scariest day in my life was finding out I
My must have skin product is coconut oil
(extra virgin). It fixes everything!!
My go-to hairstyle is flat twist-outs or just flat
twists. Low manipulation is key.
I get inspired by my family. My parents and
my sisters inspire me every day to be better.
I thought by now in life I would have 4
My hair goals are to have healthy hair. If it
comes with curls even better.
I describe myself as an African Woman who
is learning how to love myself just as I am.
If time and money allowed I would spend a
year in Watamu sipping on madafu (coconut
water) and eating. The beaches and the water
just give me peace.
The habit I really want to break is buying
clothes outside of my budget. It is hard to just
leave a pretty dress.
My favourite local movie is Nairobi Half Life.
Mugambi Nthiga blew my mind away.
For my last birthday I ate cake and chicken. I
wanted to do nothing at all.
My last prank involved planning a surprise
A social media platform I just don't get is
Pinterest. I have tried to understand it but what
is its purpose?
The best compliment I have ever received
was “You have the eyes that can see deep into
My self esteem is high when it comes to
anything that has to do with numbers. Math is
One thing I do badly that I wish I did well is
articulating myself clearly when I speak as well
as I do when I write.
A day for me involves looking at books of
account, updating websites, writing reports,
eating and working out.
My blood type is A+
The best advice I ever got is, to be broken to
be made whole again.
HOMEGROWN AFRICAN STYLE
MAKES A COMEBACK
By Wagio Mokaya
A few years ago, I bought thread for my hair and ended
up seated in between the legs of the lady who was to
style my hair. The aftermath of threading was to be felt
that night, where tossing and turning were to be my
portion; in a bid to find the perfect position to catch
some much deserved sleep. Let’s not even talk about
the headaches that came with it. I remember having to
smear Vaseline on my scalp in a bid to relieve the pain.
I also really disliked how the hair would just stand
upright, no style, no curls, no nothing! Not pretty at all.
If there was a style that worked on lowering one’s self
esteem, it was African Threading.
The African threading technique was primarily used
among West African women. It involved wrapping
sections of one’s hair in black thread from just above
the roots to the ends of the hair. The style was a
symbol of identity not only
to showcase a woman’s
beauty, but also to
promote their culture.
Initially, the styles were
very sculpture but recently
we can see a resurgence
of the technique in form of
faux locs where the hair is
wrapped in yarn, synthetic
or human hair creating a
more fluid look.
In the no heat movement,
stretching hair naturally is
king. There are various
ways of stretching the hair
from 2 & 3 Strand Twists,
Bantu Knots and Braid
Outs. African Threading is
a very effective technique
if done correctly as the
method offers a natural
way to stretch hair and
STYLE IS A WAY
TO SAY WHO
achieve the closest results to blow-dried hair. It’s
been known that blow-drying makes the hair prone
Threading protects the hair tips rom the perils of
split ends and single strand knots; making it easier to
comb and detangle. The method has also been
known to help with rapid hair growth, if repeated
continually as a style.
Image Credits: Sculptures for a day
by J. D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere
PREPPING YOUR HAIR
As you prepare to thread your hair, there are things
you need to bear in mind. Your hair needs to be
thoroughly cleaned, detangled and moisturized. It
should also preferably be dry, as wet hair will not
produce the desired effect. The final length of your
style will be determined by how much of the hair you
will pull while wrapping with the thread.
SELECTING THE THREAD
You can use whatever thread you have available but
yarn or sewing thread are preferred. The beauty of
yarn is that you can wind it round the hair once.
However, with sewing thread you may end up
winding it thrice or more times to get the desired
thickness. Various styles can be achieved with the
different threads. For example with long hair, you
can use sewing thread without doubling the size,
and it’s dependent on the style you want to achieve.
As you wrap your hair, a few things to look out for
include wrapping the hair tight, as this will cause
strain & discomfort later. Make sure the base is loose
but the thread area is tight enough so it doesn’t fall
apart when done.
There are many options available when deciding how
to style the threaded hair. You can rock them as a
protective style or tie a head wrap or tuck them
under a wig to keep them covered. Threaded hair
can stay for up to three weeks or even a month.
Avoid washing the hair while it’s threaded instead
moisturize using L.O.C method once or twice a week.
One can only view this hairstyle with pride. It originated
on the continent of Africa and has morphed into a
multiple way to take care and style one’s natural hair
without damaging it. It will be interesting to see how
African threading will evolve in the years to come as I
am sure there will be many styling techniques that will
mimic the age old technique.
Kenya’s first natural hair and living magazine, The
Hairpolitan, made its debut at the Hair, Beauty and
Personal Care Expo that was held at the Sarit Centre
Expo Centre on 19th- 21st August 2016.
The aim of taking part in the Expo was to give a chance
to attendees to know about the magazine’s existence. It
was also an opportunity for them to meet & greet the
team behind the magazine, to ask questions about the
publication and know of its future in the African market.
The Hairpolitan team, made it known that the publication
would be here for those interested in keeping their
natural hair, using natural products on their hair and skin,
eating organically healthy food, and keeping fit among
many other topics within the Natural lifestyle.
The Hairpolitan Editor - Nepurko Keiwua, was keen to
express why the magazine was a much needed addition
into the scene, “Hairpolitan was borne out of a need to
provide African women a space where they feel secure
sharing their authentic stories of beauty and success. We
are here to ease the process of accessing information,
about natural hair and living, to all that need it.”
A number of visitors to the booth queried if the magazine
would only be online. Wambui JL, Hairpolitan’s Creator
said, “It is a considered future business model. However,
in the interim, an online magazine provides quick access
for the consumer and affordability for us as a start up
because currently the cost of printing is prohibitive.”
The booth, decked in the brand’s black and yellow colors,
saw nearly 70 guests interested in subscribing to the
magazine. There was also an interest shown in guest’s
article submission and a number enquired about placing
adverts in the publication.
The team also hosted several renowned personalities in
the Natural Hair world from Nyachomba of Kurly Kichana,
the latest YouTube sensation @ItsWanza, the prolific
Patricia Kihoro and the KipilipiliTZ ladies who traveled all
the way from Tanzania for the Expo.
However, it was not all work and no play, visitors were
encouraged to select party props and take goofy pictures
all of which were shared on the magazine’s Instagram
The magazine will be published bi-monthly while running
supporting content on its website. Contributions,
Feedback and Queries are welcome through the email:
Hairpolitan Stand at the HBPC 2016 Expo
Hairpolitan Team host AfroliciousKE
Goofing Around: Wachu Wanjaria (KD Admin) with Kawiria Obura.
Hairpolitan Team host Nyachomba, Kurly Kichana
HER NATURAL SELF
By Nali Wafula Imende
I meet Taruri at a bustling café on Kimathi Street; she is
finishing up another meeting. She gives me a warm hug
and offers me a seat. Taruri has the easy confidence of a
woman at peace with herself, her natural hair is done up
in loose twists, her face is make up free and an easy
smile plays on her lips. She is beautiful!
At just 31 Taruri is a trained fashion designer, a life coach,
an amateur vegan chef and the creator of Flawnt It Love.
FlawntIt is an online website that lets people celebrate
their perceived flaws on a safe platform to share and
embrace the things we may feel conscious about. Taruri
decided to start the site as a way to deal with her own
and other people’s insecurities about their bodies.
Taruri says she begun to feel insecure about her body when she was about 14- 15 years old. Her family
was generally health conscious, in a positive way; and though there was a lot of attention on weight she
says she always felt beautiful growing up. “But when I went to high school and started getting a little
hippy- when I look at the pictures now I was so skinny so I didn’t know what I was seeing, but I guess
because I was an early bloomer
people would make comments like
“Oh My God your hips! And I was
just like what are these things and
where did they come from.” To
divert attention from her
blossoming body, Taruri began to
wear baggy clothing.
“I noticed my cellulite when I was 12
or 13 and I thought, oh dimples,
because you know dimples are
cute.” But as she got older she
remembers her older sister
mentioning how cellulite is
disgusting and when she asked her
sister what it was, she replied, “You
know those dimples!” I just thought
“Oh my god.”
“It was one of the scariest things I’ve done in my life
because on social media, you know, you want to paint
the best picture of your life, capture the best moments,
even if you take pictures you want filters so...the fact
that it was so raw and my insecurity was just there.
Halfway through my shoot I started crying like, ‘I can’t
Taruri laughs and admits that she was so anxious the
night before the shoot she downed some shots. “I think
it was a journey through my own insecurities with my
physical body, coupled with seeing the frustration other
people had with their physical flaws that made me
realise this was such a universal issue. I also realised it
would be more powerful if I shared it and also drew in
other people to tell their stories”
After the first picture of her was posted as a teaser,
Taruri was inundated with requests from people curious
about what she was doing and eager to take part. “With
my head cut off, you couldn’t even tell it was me, we
wrote a short description along the lines of, ‘Have you
ever struggled with your flaws?’ We did not even write
anything calling people to join us, but so many people
responded asking to be a part of it.” she says.
Thanks to the powerful reaction, the picture garnered
Taruri realised that this was something that was bigger
than just one story and it snowballed from there. “I get
messages even now, every week someone is like can I
take part in this? The Facebook page is always full of
messages saying thank you for telling this story or I
identify with this person because I’ve gone through the
BODY IS NOT THE
SUM TOTAL OF
WHO YOU ARE.
Images of Taruri Gatere
by Teddy Mitchener Photography
What was even more powerful for Taruri, were
the people in her own life who were going
through struggles that she knew nothing about
but were now able to open up to her. “There is
one person who told me she is now able to wear
sleeveless things for the first time in her life
because she always felt insecure about her arms
since she was a kid…I mean that really made me
feel so happy.”
Taruri says the new awareness made
her avoid activities like swimming, “I
even wore bikers with a swimming
costume.” But after a while, she
became tired of hiding and decided
to be brave “…even though I didn’t
feel brave inside and still wondered
if people were staring, I decided to
just wear a swimming costume. I
pushed myself but would still feel
insecure about it.”
For Taruri, body acceptance has
been a journey “I feel a lot more
confident now but there are still
days when I feel… I just look in the
mirror and feel urgh.” Her shift
happened in 2010 - 2011 and she
remembers just feeling so tired of
constantly thinking about her body,
worrying about what she is wearing,
what people are thinking. “And
what happened was, because of all these insecurities I had actually started developing an eating
disorder, In fact, I was anorexic for a while in high school but I stopped then it came back again.
It was on and off.”
Taruri says she could feel the effect it was having on her body and she could foresee her health failing
her in the future. “I was exhausted and that’s when the concept of FlawntIt came to me but it was more
of a personal thing, I wasn’t even thinking of telling other people’s stories.”
For young girls going through body image issues, Taruri shares some advice: “Your physical body is not
the sum total of who you are, it is a vehicle that carries a spirit and a soul, there is so much emphasis put
on how you look (especially as women), it is so ridiculous, there is so much more that we are capable of,
there is so much more that we are than our physical body.”
Interview with Ruth Sebagereka
On our natural hair journey, most of us take for granted one of
the most essential tools that helps us manage the curls & kinks
in our hair - the comb. The very act of combing our hair brings
up mixed feelings for different people. For some, it’s the bane
of their washday regime and for others; it’s a relaxing process
that they quite enjoy. Natural hair newbies often end up using
the wrong methods to comb their hair that leaves them
frustrated to the point of thinking natural hair is not for them.
Some Naturalistas have taken comfort in ditching the tool all
together and using their fingers to detangle their hair.
We all have nostalgic memories of the Afropick comb that we
all used growing up. It was made of thin metal prongs and
plastic handles with the raised power fist atop it. This comb
originated form the US in the 1960s when keeping an Afro
hairstyle was a symbolism of support for black empowerment.
Combs served a more significant role in ancient Africa- among
the Akan of Ghana; combs were given as gifts especially to
women but could be given to men as well.
WE WANT OUR
The handles were decorated with motifs that had a
message. For example, husbands would give wives
combs that symbolized fertility in the hopes of the
woman bringing forth healthy children. The Yaka
people, from the Democratic Republic of Congo,
wore combs that had elaborately designed
headrests and human figures symbolizing the
wearers’ status and group affiliation.
Ancient combs were made from natural materials
such as wood, bamboo, ivory or bone. The material
used, determined if the comb was for daily use or
for prestige purposes. Sometimes one comb served
both utilitarian and decorative purposes. In modern
times, our combs are purely utilitarian and most are
made mostly from plastic with a majority imported
from countries, such as China, that don’t understand
the nature of our hair. It’s a little bit sad that we are
not interested in understanding and creating a tool
that would work for our own hair. This is all set to
change, so must not lose hope.
Introducing Ruth Sebagereka, a bonafide Naturalista
and a groundbreaking innovator of the Truthcomb.
While on her natural hair journey, and in a bid to get
her hair to a manageable state, it dawned on her
that God did not give her hair she could not handle.
She therefore decided to investigate the hair care
and management regimes that she was undertaking.
Ruth discovered that if all remained constant, the
comb and/or combing technique, was the only thing
remaining that needed adjusting.
She calls her invention the Truthcomb because she
wants us to know the truth about our hair.
“The Truthcomb promises to take care of your curly
hair in the way which is best aligned to bring out the
beauty of your curly hair,” says Ruth. “We want our
customers to feel physically beautiful. We want to
tell them the truth about the hair- that they were
created with such beautiful hair, it’s transcendent.”
Truthcomb Model 001
Ruth Sebagereka - Truthcomb Inventor
The comb is the first of its kind globally that does
what it does. It works on the premise that African
hair grows parallel to the scalp, “This is a
fundamental premise that needs to be preserved
when grooming.” Ruth clarifies. The comb travels
horizontally through the hair as it is stacked in layers
and also staggered which helps smooth down the
cuticles along each individual hair strand. The trick
to using the Truthcomb is the ratio of comb to hair;
you are required to section and groom only a little
bit of hair at a time.
Truthcomb Model 001 has 273 bristles with 7 layers.
It is anti-static and has a light detachable handle.
Over time, one can change the head of the comb to
suit their hair needs, as the comb will work for all
lengths and types of hair. The company plans to
launch only the short hair model for now. The comb
will be initially available online and shall target all
curly hair markets in the world.
Ruth aims to contribute to the innovation and
manufacturing sector in Africa. She is working with
various stakeholders. She confesses that she has not
created the Truthcomb alone and is grateful to all
those who have supported her and have helped in
many miraculous ways. “So we are fundamentally
committed to traveling this journey of innovation
with others,” she affirms.
Her challenge to potential innovators is to see how
to “have a firm foundation upon which to effect
change in current day Africa. That is, to present
the historical precedence of excellence so as to
achieve excellence in our own times. If we believe
in our historical greatness- we can then do great
things. But first, I must live it!”
ON DOING IT RIGHT
By Karimi Kagwe
MEET AMINA & IMAAN
I got to meet Amina Jasho who works in Communications
for an international NGO in addition to being a mother to
a seven-year-old beautiful girl. We both ran in the same
“natural hair circles‘’ on Facebook and have a lot of
mutual friends. I have always admired Amina’s beauty,
vivacious personality and luscious hair. She emphatically
believes that parents do play a role in developing a child’s
We are living in a world where our esteem as Africans
and as women has been trodden upon and beaten
down to such low levels that we end up missing our
worth and value altogether. Esteem is a topic that is
quite close to my heart. I am glad to have a space
where things that affect me as a woman can be raised.
I have always felt like there is no motivation to love my skin.
I was born in an era that celebrates light skinned and
Caucasian women. Hair had to be straight like in the
pictures we see in
magazines and on
bodies had to be
skinny, our African
hips looked down
upon until the
Beyoncé’s and the
J. Lo’s of the world
made it popular to
have some little
meat on their
bones. There have
always been so
many rules to attain
beauty. But how did
we get there? How
can our girls be
brought up to love
the skin that they
were born in?
INFLUENCE IN A
CHILD'S LIFE IS
As a parent I wanted to figure this one out. I went
searching for answers and this led me to do interviews
with parents raising girls.
“We (parents) are who and what our children want to
become when they grow up. Based on this knowledge we
have to give them something to emulate. My daughter
has never suffered low self-esteem because I consider
myself a confident woman with a lot to offer; this is
something that my child will be able to pick up’’
Because we still live in a largely patriarchal society, Amina
believes most daughters look up to, and believe what their
fathers’ final word on anything is. A good example, a girl
always remembers if her father criticised her
dress sense, how she sat and how she looks.
In future, this may form a perspective on how
she sees herself. Amina reiterates that a
father has to affirm the child to let her know
that she is beautiful.
Amina’s and Imaan’s Images courtesy
of Boy on the ledge (BOTL)
I have come across certain sections of the
media that play a role in promoting
unhealthy images and messages that affect
our young girls. I was curious to learn if
Amina restricted access to these channels for
her daughter. She responded by saying that
her daughter only watches child friendly
channels under supervision. Furthermore, all
computers in their home have strict parental
control settings that restrict access to social
I also asked Amina whether she feels that
there is pressure for women and girls to
conform to Western beauty standards.
“Yes, I feel the pressure every day when I
go to the shop and can’t find jeans that fit my shape. I
feel it when I diet to get thinner, (but I’m) not sure why?
I also feel it when my daughter is happier when her hair
is straight and, as she calls it, soft. I fear she will ask me
to relax her hair when she is older because she really
likes the straight hair look. It’s a challenge when this
She continues to say that the differences between light
and dark skinned girls is a topic of discussion that arises
a lot in her home. This is because her daughter Imaan is
darker than she is. She suspects that Imaan questions
their differences due to what she has watched on TV.
“For some people, being black and beautiful isn’t
enough. We like to lighten our skin or straighten our
hair or contour our faces so that we can look like the
Kim Kardashians of this world.
”I am afraid, sometimes being told by your parent that you’re beautiful will not be enough because the media, the
internet and the silly boy you met at college say you are not beautiful enough; that you would be, if you
straightened your hair or got a boob job. It makes me so sad.’’
“Yes I have. I got married really young and got divorced soon after. This was not good for my confidence or
self-esteem. I was broken emotionally during this period and it took a long time for me to acknowledge the fact
that none of it was my fault. It took a toll on me, I got thin, I was always sad. If anyone knows me I love to laugh
but not back then.”
She was able to get through this dark time with a lot of prayer and advice from her parents. Despite the fact that
she is a Muslim, she points out that her good friend Pastor Pete also provided her with wise counsel, “He always
told me to look forward and never behind. Dealing with it was hard but now I believe I can never be broken by a
It is evident that Amina has triumphed through what many would call a hard and painful season. I asked her to
share additional advice with parents raising girls and how they can help their daughters overcome low
self-esteem,‘’Encourage your child even when they fail at something. In addition, never ever say to them, that
dress makes you look fat or makes you look slutty or makes you look older. Instead explain your reasons as to why
they shouldn’t dress in a certain way and always remind your child that her body is a temple that is precious just
RAISING THE MUCHURA GIRLS
I continue my conversation with good friends of mine - Mark and
Jeri Muchura. Mark and Jeri always like to say they have been
married for four years, but humorously add that they have been
together for ten.
Mark describes himself as ‘a living, breathing, eating, sleeping
minion of the creative fraternity, currently working as Head of
Creative Services for a leading firm in Lavington. Jeri is a work
from home mom and an award-winning photographer who loves
to showcase Kenyan stories through her images.
The lovely couple have two beautiful daughters with the most
amazing and unique names; Tuviyah Kadessa Muchura who is
seven years old while their second born, Yisraella Taji Muchura is
5 years old.
I asked them if they believe that parents play a role in
developing a child’s self-esteem. Jeri agreed by saying, “The
biggest influence in a child's life is their parents. Children are
fertile ground and every word and action by the parents is a
seed that will take root and produce a harvest, which can be
either good or bad.”
Jeri added that her daughters love
princesses because they are whimsical
and love to play pretend, this however
poses a challenge because they mostly
portray fair skinned girls with long,
blond hair in the lead roles. “Trying to
explain to my 7 and 5 year olds that
their hair doesn’t grow long and flowing
like Rapunzel's or Elsa’s is
heart-breaking because they do not
understand why their kinky hair isn’t as
what they see on TV. We work hard to
raise them with a healthy love of self in
light of the animations and kids movies
that are out nowadays. Thankfully, the
number of animations featuring brown
girls and boys are increasing and
helping them identify with girls with hair
and skin tones like theirs.”
One of the ways the Muchuras are
raising their girls to love themselves is
the way they style their hair. The couple
experiment a lot with their hair and
have raised their girls to wear
dreadlocks, giving them the freedom to
style their hair as they want. Mark
emphasizes on this by adding, “In my
view children should only wear natural
hair styles. I believe they will grow to
appreciate themselves a lot more
because of it.”
She also clarified, “It is our responsibility as parents to prepare
our children for life and this means giving them the right tools at
a very young age. One way we do this is by taking an active role
in their day-to-day lives and ensuring the different types of
media they are exposed to promote healthy messages to young
girls. Mark loves cartoons and watches them religiously together
with his girls as a way to bond with them and ensure they aren’t
exposed to concepts that are unsuitable for their young minds.”
I was curious to know what the
response has been from the community
to their children wearing dreadlocks.
Jeri responded by saying that she was
worried how their school would take it
but she has received no resistance on
that end. Both confirmed that overall,
all feedback has been positive and they
are glad that the girls get to hear
positivity coming from other people
other than their parents as this helps
build their confidence.
As I end my quest I asked both of them
how they would advise other parents to
help their children overcome low
self-esteem. Both their answers
emphasized the need for every parent
to encourage their children. Jeri
concludes by saying, “Encourage your
daughters to speak, take the time to
listen to their little hearts, observe and
really see them, celebrate them as they
achieve what seems insurmountable to
them. Let them know that you love
them, that you are in their corner and
that you are cheering them on.
Then watch them blossom.”
Image of Jeri & March Muchua
(Previous Page) by Michael Magoha
Image of the Muchura Girls by
Photos by Jeri
LOSING A BABY
WHO WAS NOT
BORN IS A
STILL A MUM
By Wambui JL
Images courtesy of Wanjiru Kihusa
“The modern day woman is resilient yet we don’t highlight and celebrate that enough,” says Wanjiru Kihusa when
I ask her how she can best describe today’s African woman outside of what the western media and traditional
African society defines her to be. In Wanjiru’s view, African women have long been subjected to a myriad of
hardships but they manage to get up, go to work, raise families, support communities, build nations and still
As I listen to her talk across the table, with her hand gently place on mine, I wonder if Wanjiru is aware that she’s
actually describing herself. A few minutes into our meeting she was sharing the story of how she lost two of her
pregnancies within 6 months of each other. The first one was well into the gestation at 20weeks (5months) in
November of 2013 due to a Listeria infection, while the second one early on at 7 weeks in March of 2014 for
Since her experiences, Wanjiru took a break from baby making, quit her 8-5 IT job, focused on her marriage and
started a fast growing support network for women who suffered pregnancy and infant loss like she had. She called
it Still A Mum, a name that was truly inspired because as a society we don’t have a name for a woman who has
lost a child. “The statement ‘You are still a Mum’ is very powerful and reassuring to the bereaved; and we aim to
acknowledge and celebrate that the woman made and carried life before losing the child.” Wanjiru says.
Still A Mum was launched in October 2015 after months of discussing the topic of child loss on her online
platforms. The space supports those whose lives have been touched by the tragic death of a baby through
pregnancy loss, stillbirth or in the first few months of life up to 3 years. “This is not to say that we won’t support
parents who have lost older children,” Wanjiru reaffirms, “The aim of Still A Mum is to create awareness on
anything regarding child loss and give correct information which in turn helps those around give proper support.”
The passing of a child
before their first
The official medical
term for miscarriage
defined as the death
of the fetus before
The official medical
term for stillbirth,
defined as when the
baby dies after 20
LOSING A CHILD
Pregnancy and childbirth have a huge effect
on women and their families; and when a
child dies it is indeed devastating. It does not
matter how long the child spent in their
mother’s womb, or in their families’ arms as
that baby will have already made an impact
and will always be greatly missed. Parents
will naturally feel grief and guilt thereafter
and they should be given emotional support
by being reassured their actions were not the
cause. “Grief is the price we pay for love.
Losing a baby who was not born is a legitimate
loss. Never rush someone who is
grieving. Grief has no formula and is actually
very complex.” A quote via her Twitter
Interestingly in the year of running Still A
Mum, Wanjiru has found that there is no real
platform in the country that discusses the
importance of grieving loss in general, let
alone pregnancy and infant loss. She has
frequently found herself discussing general
loss and grieving on discussion panels, only
get to mention child loss as a sub-type.
Wanjiru admits, that despite the aversion towards formal
counseling in the country, it is very necessary for it to be
made available. “Death of any kind triggers mental
health issues,” she says. The intended key outcome for
the Still A Mum’s support network is for every parent and
family member to know that someone still cares enough
to remember and recognize their child’s life.
They currently carry out two (2) forms of the much
needed counseling sessions. There are physical groups of
ten (10) that meet for five (5) mandatory sessions under a
trained counselor at Norwich Union in Nairobi’s CBD. A
nominal fee of KES 200/= is charged for the venue but it
is not compulsory. The aim with the small number is to
ensure that everyone gets a chance to talk and share
their story. There are also well-moderated Whatsapp
groups made up of 20 people, where members discuss a
new topic in relation to child loss every three days.
In the pipeline are men only groups and/or activities,
where bereaved fathers can also find an outlet to discuss
their loss. “Let’s not forget the fathers, they need our
love and support too,” she encourages her followers
during a live Twitter chat session.
JUDGMENT & BLAME
Our African psyche is tuned to believe that
womanhood equals motherhood and the later is “A
duty to other people,” Wanjiru observes. In societies’
eyes women are seen to have let down their spouses,
families and society by not being able to carry a baby
to term, something that she personally felt. Such
verdicts tend to have far reaching negative effects
especially on a woman’s self esteem.
Pregnancy and Infant Loss Statistics in Kenya:
10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will
end in miscarriage.
1 in every 10 women will have a miscarriage (best
case) or 1 in every 4 women will get a miscarriage
An estimated 4.2 million miscarriages are
reported every year in Africa.
1 in 100 women will experience recurrent
miscarriages (three or more successive
In Kenya, there are no conclusive nationwide
statistics and even those kept by hospitals do not
include women who had a miscarriage at home.
Source: Still A Mum
Wanjiru shares that peri-urban and rural women who
have had miscarriages have been accused of having
procured an abortion or having taken part in
witchcraft because in some instances it is difficult to
explain what exactly a miscarriage is or what caused it
in local dialects. Meanwhile, in a more urban setting
the blame has been directed at the woman’s business
or career where the spouse feels that if the mother
didn’t work as long or hard the baby would have
Whichever way blame will be naturally apportioned
during grief but Wanjiru advises that it be said at the
right time, in the right tone and perhaps with a
professional so that it is more of an expression rather
than an accusation.
PARTNER / SPOUSAL SUPPORT
Wanjiru explains that partner/spousal support is key
and without it being present depression could be
triggered. This kind of support manifests itself in
three ways, there is the typical one where the partner
up and leaves, citing inability to handle the loss,
which typically happens with unmarried couples.
However, in rare instances there are unmarried
couples that did not plan for the pregnancy but end
up staying together, getting married and having other
children. The final one is within the confines of
marriage where the couple stays together and
supports each other through the storm.
SUPPORTING THE MOTHER
Through her own experience, Wanjiru found that
friends and family really helped her heal by showing
up and being physically there for her and her family.
She talks of one couple that knew her and her
husband from campus. They came to their home,
cooked them dinner and talked for hours on
everything but the baby that had passed. “It made
me feel normal,” remembers Wanjiru.
She challenges especially the older female family
members of the bereaved to treat the mother “…as if
she brought the child home.” In her opinion a
bereaved mother should be supported in the same
way as a mother who has just given birth to a child by
provided with nutritious food, being helped to
maintain the home and keeping her company.
PREGNANCY AND INFANT LOSS DAY
As Still A Mum approaches their one-year
anniversary they have made great strides in their
intended purpose. Together with other worldwide
communities they will be commemorating the
Pregnancy and Infant Loss day for the 2nd time
since their inception. The one-week of awareness
that starts on the 9th of October will culminate
with a tree planting ceremony at Karura Forest on
Saturday 15th October to remember all babies
that have been lost.
On sale will be pink and blue Pregnancy and Infant
Loss ribbons that one can wear during the
awareness week to help support a family that has
lost a child. The aim is to provide families with an
activity and place to remember the lost child
fondly in years to come.
Still A Mum
Phone: +254 (0) 723 220 063
or +254 (0) 792 918 023
Facebook: www.facebook.com/Still A Mum
BY US FOR US
Interview with Mumbi Muturi-Muli
Kenyan consumers spent more than $100 million (KES
10B) on hair care alone, reported CNN earlier this year
(Parke, Phoebe. Heads up! Africa's billion dollar hair
care industry. www.edition.cnn.com, 5th February
2016). This is all thanks to the growing middle class,
which has experienced a growth in discretionary
income, especially for women. Evidently Hair in Kenya is
big business and the companies that were leading in
market share in 2015 included HACO Tiger Brands (EA),
L'Oréal (EA), PZ Cussons (EA) and Revlon (SA)
(Euromonitor, June 2016).
The hair care niche has also experienced tremendous
growth in the last 5 years and especially the cottage
industry that serves up homemade products made for
African natural hair. Mumbi Muturi-Muli is a savvy
entrepreneur who saw an opportunity and took
advantage of it to bring us, Harvest of Sunshine.
The company was launched in 2012 with an aim of
creating high quality natural hair and skin products that
utilize African indigenous ingredients such as Baobab
Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil, Shea Butter and Ghana’s
African Black Soap.
We sat with Mumbi to understand more about her
company, the ingredients that go into her products and
how she felt it feeds into the growing African
What do you think the standard of African beauty is
I think beauty for African women has changed
drastically in the last 4 years. We are no longer held
hostage by the western ideals of beauty. This has
happened so quickly that now I get a feeling that there
is really no standard.
WE ARE NO
HOSTAGE BY THE
Images Courtesy of Harvest of Sunshine.
The new standard is what we see in the mirror and what
we choose for ourselves. We are more appreciative of
all the forms that the body and face take and no longer
subscribe to any definitive standard. This is a freedom
that we have not enjoyed in the past as African women.
Why do you feel that your ethos of “fresh,
natural ingredients grown on the African
continent” is important to you as a brand?
I know that we have enough resources in Africa to
support all the ingredients that we need for our skin
and hair. Africans have been harvesting and using
these butters and oils for longer than our memories
would allow and it works. It works for us because in
a sense they were created for us as Africans.
What challenges do you face when sourcing
locally grown ingredients?
I have been very lucky to get a supplier that has
cold-pressed oils that have not gone through a
process that reduces or altogether eliminates their
benefits. The only challenge I get is when I am
formulating something new. I find that the cost of
experimenting with new oils can be prohibitive.
Do all your products contain 100% African grown
No they do not. We have to use other ingredients
because our products are water-based. However,
we strive to use a minimum amount of the
preservatives, emulsifiers, emollients and fragrances
in the safest and most effective quantities.
Which ingredients do you import and why can’t
you find them locally?
We use a parabens and formaldehyde free
preservative that is not locally available. I do not
know why we do not manufacture these products in
Kenya but I suspect that there is no business need
for it as we are able to import them. Once the need
to create products that are as natural as can be
increases across the continent, we might start
getting local manufacturers of these ingredients.
Parabens and formaldehyde are commonly used as
preservatives in most skin and hair care products
but most large cancer research funds define them
as carcinogenic factors.
What exactly is Yangu Oil and how did you come
One of the first big African oils that I heard of was
Argan oil from Morocco; it was touted as the Holy
Grail of oils. However, it was very expensive. So I
started to think that there must be other oils that
were available locally.
It was while on a trip to Ghana that I discovered
that there was Baobab oil in Kenya and I started
talking to producers to find out what other hidden
gems we had. That is how I came across Yangu
(Cape Chestnut) oil. I also came across Macadamia
nut oil and many others that we use in our products.
Yangu oil has been used in Africa for many years
and we somehow never got a hold of or lost this
knowledge. I am so happy that we have
re-discovered it. It is high in essential fatty acid
content of palmitic acid, stearic acid, and oleic
acid, and has a high antioxidant value. So it is
great for both your skin and you hair and early
research is indicating that it might be able to
penetrate the hair shaft like coconut and avocado oils.
What is your signature product?
It seems that the customers are the ones deciding
what the signature product is for them. Everyone
has different needs and regimes for their hair and
skin therefore they get to decide what works best
What products are currently in formulation and
what can we look forward to?
I am currently working on something for our
Locstars. I think, that we need to change the
mentality behind the way that we take care of our
locs by moving away from the hard gels; and find a
way to moisturize and nourish the hair instead.
I am also looking into a facial care line and with all
the lovely oils that we have here, our delicate facial
skin would benefit greatly from a lotion that will be
gentle enough to be used on our faces.
TIPPING THE SCALES
AGAINST AFRICAN WOMEN
By Nina Odongo
For anyone who’s ever taken the slightest interest in their weight, they may have come across the much-debated
Body Mass Index (BMI). As a personal trainer, many of my clients complain that trying to stay within BMI chart
healthy weight ranges puts them at a weight that is not only hard to achieve and maintain over a certain age, but
also, one that leaves them looking and feeling unnaturally thin.
On the flip side, if you walk into a doctor’s office or gym, or even just calculate your BMI online and are consistently
classed as overweight, it can have serious effects on your esteem and leave you questioning your worth. Standard
BMI charts are unrealistic for a large number of African women simply because they don’t take into account the
Your Body Mass Index is a measure that works out how healthy your weight is in relation to your height and age.
BMI charts take this a step further and calculate an ideal weight range for people by height. For decades, health
professionals, insurance companies and the World Health Organisation have used BMI charts as a tool for
measuring whether people were underweight, overweight or obese. More recently, weight loss companies have
jumped on the bandwagon, using BMI charts to market products and services geared at getting people closer to
their supposed ideal weight.
That’s all very well, you’re thinking, but what’s it got to do with African women?
A LARGE NUMBER
Well, the problem with traditional BMI charts is that
they were created with people of European ancestry
in mind. Although African women come in all shapes
and sizes, from tall and slender, to curvy and
voluptuous; on average, black women’s body fat
distribution differs from that of Caucasian women.
Put simply, and without generalising too much, we
carry our weight differently. For example, we have
less visceral fat, which is the dangerous type of fat.
The fat that hangs out deep in our belly cavity,
surrounding our internal organs, so we can’t see it
or feel it. Another differentiator is that African
women have a lower waist to hip ratio.
And herein lies the problem.
Images courtesy of Body by Nina
While it has gradually come to be recognised that
BMI charts are inaccurate for Asian women and
people with a lot of muscle, it has only recently
become a point of conversation whether or not
black women are in fact negatively prejudiced by
traditional BMI charts.
It is not uncommon for many African women to
weigh more and therefore have a high BMI, often
putting them firmly in the overweight to obese
category and yet still be healthier than white
women of the same BMI. This is because, even
with a high BMI, because we have less dangerous
fat, we are still less at risk to diseases such as type
2 diabetes and high cholesterol than our
This is not carte blanche to toss out the scales,
hang up your running shoes, and reach for the
BBQ ribs and extra large red wine. As a matter of
fact, this may be one of the greatest, indirect
failings of the BMI chart as far as African women
are concerned. If the targets are completely
unattainable, most women won’t even try. They
lose the race because they didn’t even start it.
Your ‘Oh well, I love myself the way I am’ attitude
may be brimming with self-confidence but it is a
double-edged sword. By all means, love your thick
thighs, embrace your bootyliciousness, adore your
dimples and flaunt your killer curves. Teach your
girls to love themselves unconditionally.
But! Does that mean weight problems don’t exist
among black African women? Of course they do.
Is there such a thing as too thick? Indubitably.
Black women with a waist circumference of 39 and
above and a BMI (that word again!) of 33 and
above are still at risk of the same diseases as their
So what’s the happy balance? If we are to toss out
the BMI chart for black women, what guidelines
do we follow to keep us on the straight and
narrow? The answer is simple: Be kind to yourself,
it’s literally what’s on the inside that counts.
“ON FLEEK” BROWS
By Ciku Wamae
I’ve been obsessed with eyebrows from an early age. It all stemmed from the girl who sat in front of me would turn
and start laughing at my lack of eyebrows whenever she was bored. This spurred me to try and get normal looking
eyebrows, by trying to shape them, grow them or even just fill them in.
The first thing I notice about many people, after the state of their skin, is their eyebrows or lack thereof. So, you can
imagine how keenly I have been following the current brow trend - dubbed the Instabrow, because it’s been highly
popularised by social media. Women all over are all sporting the same shape of brow but the only thing that differs is
the intensity of colour. The brows range from giant caterpillars to works of such geometric precision that they deserve
a spot at the Tate Modern.
FACIAL SHAPES AND IDEAL BROWS
It cannot be stressed enough that not everyone looks good with the Instabrow. The minute we are focusing on your
brows and ignoring the rest of your face it might be time to think up another trend. Eyebrows are meant to finish your
look – not take over your whole face and make you look like Nike have bought advertising space on your forehead.
What brow shape suits you is really down to your facial features. The beauty world breaks down our faces into the 6
basic shapes below along with the brow that suits each shape.
SHAPING YOUR EYEBROW
Armed with the above knowledge, let’s delve into a basic but must know guide on how to create the perfect
brow for you.
You need a straight object to help you create the lines and a makeup pen such as a brow liner to help you mark
the various spots.
A: Is ideally where brows should start for most people. However, if you have wide set eyes, i.e your eyes
appear to be far apart, then your brows should start slightly to the left of line A – just on the outer
sides of the balls of your nose as this will help them appear closer together. This starting point to the
left of A is also great if you have a large forehead as it will give the illusion of it being smaller than it
B and C: Help you figure out where your arch should be. If you want a high arch then aim for the highest
point of your brow to be out the outer edge of your iris. If you prefer a modest arch then move the line to
the left of B such that it crosses the middle of your iris.
D: Indicates where the length of the brow should cease. Very few people can get a way with brows past
E: The end tip of the brow should not dip lower than the beginning end otherwise your brows look
wonky. It should sit on the same level or slightly higher to achieve the eyebrow lift effect.
Once you have mapped out the shape your brows it is now time to make them look polished. For people blessed
with thick eyebrows, brushing them and trimming and or tweezing/threading any stray hairs or hairs that are too
long is enough to give a finished look.
For those of us with sparse, barely-there brows, products like brow pencils, powders and gels come to our
rescue. To avoid looking like a clown, choose the right shade of product to use. A very light hand is needed when
applying these products otherwise you will end up looking overly made up.
Based on those tips, you can see that each one of us should have our own unique brows and not the Instabrow
that is currently the rage.
AWALI AFRO HAIR
Words and images courtesy of Curly Cheeks
Kinky, curly, straight or soft; do you have a tendency of putting a
label on your natural hair and hope to find the right regimen or
products that will make you achieve the perfect curls? Have you
ever gone to a hair salon and ended up frustrated with the manner
in which they handled your hair? Are you tired of the daily routine
when it comes to natural hair and contemplated getting Sisterlocs?
Do you find it overwhelming to take care of your daughter’s hair or
trying to get them to appreciate the beauty of natural hair at an
early age? These were a few of the queries that were addressed on
the 30th July 2016 at the Afro Hair Festival hosted by Awali
Naturals Founder Shirley Bee to cater to natural hair bloggers,
stylists and enthusiasts at Jacaranda Hotel in Nairobi.
Despite the chilly weather outside, it was nice to see beautiful
women showing off their beautiful manes, protective styles and
bold hair colors at the event. The event kicked off at noon with
some neo soul music from DJ Andre playing in the background
while the lovely emcee for the day, Angela from Malkia’s Lush
welcomed the guests who slowly started streaming in. With an
interactive panel discussion, the audience had the opportunity to
openly talk about the challenges they’ve faced over the years when
it comes to dealing with natural hair.
4C Hair Chick and Angela (Malkia Lush)
Shirley Bee (Awali Natural), Tricia (Tricia’s Naturals),
Angela and Vikky Wambui (Napspiration)
Founder of Awali Naturals - Shirley Bee
Hair Bloggers - Liberated Junkie
and New Now and Next Natural
Kurly Diaries Admins, Wachu Wanjaria,
Josephine Wabuu and Ess Kay
Ladies in Red - Betty Muthoni, Roselyn Njeri
and Vikki Wambui (Napsiration)
Roselyn Munah's - Wash and Go hairstyle
Saul Juma's Live Hair Demonstrations
After a short brunch, the audience was able to participate in hair
talks and got a chance to interact with hair bloggers, such as
Nyachomba Kariuki from Kurly Kichana, who shared their own
personal hair journeys. My highlight of the day was the Little Curls
workshop, where Nina Odongo from My Big Fat Afro, shared her
experience on how to take care of our little one’s hair with child
friendly products that are locally available. The children were also
well taken care of under the watchful eye of Cheeky Monkey, where
they got to engage in various fun activities while the discussions
were going on.
Beauty apparels from Malkia Lush on display
Hair Stylists - Saul Juma, Dennis Wa Gladys
Mumbi Muturi - Harvest of Sunshine.
Engaging the audience
Sisterlocs Re-tightening expert Tabby (Topstylist Salon)
and Crotchet Braider Makanye
There was so much to learn from Awali’s Afro Hair Festival; from the
products ingredients workshop by Mumbi Muturi Muli from Harvest
of Sunshine, to the live hair demonstrations by the amazing natural
hair stylists who attended the festival and the inspiring talk by
Kirigo Kabuga – a certified Sisterlocks Master Hair Stylist and
natural hair coach; the attendees left with a little bit of information
on how to handle our natural hair and embrace our kinks and curls
regardless of our hair texture.
Braids styled by Dgonie
Josephine Wabuu (Admin Kurly Diaries)
sharing her hair experience
Nyachomba Kariuki (Kurly Kichana), Dennis and
Vikky Wambui (Napspiration)
Straw set hair demonstrations done at the festival
Awali’s Afro Hair Festival Brunch, was a prelude to the main festival
that is scheduled to take place on the 26th of November this year,
in order to bring the natural hair community in Kenya together, as
well as a chance to get to interact and network with the key players
in the natural hair community.
Cheeky Monkey Activities
Kirigo Kabua (Studio 28), Wambui JL (Hairpolitan)
and Nina Odongo (Body by Nina)
Nyachomba's Hair (Kurly Kichana)
Vikki Ngaruiya's Twist out hairstyle
THE HAIR BEAUTY
& PERSONAL CARE
By Mary Kagone, Sales & Relationship
Manager, Beauty Bee Co. Ltd
The event that was!
A dentist explains on Oral Health
Makeup Competition Judges
Battle of the Barbers moderator Michael Gitonga
Panelists at the Style with Natural Hair Segment
sponsored by Marini Naturals
The Hair Beauty and Personal Care Expo 2016 is an initiative organized
by Beauty Bee Company Ltd whose entry to consumers was absolutely
free. The event focused on creating a forum for consumers to learn
from experts and leading resources in the industry on matters Hair,
Beauty and Personal wellness. This was achieved through organizing
and executing interactive sessions where matters Hair, Beauty and
Personal wellness were raised, discussed and solutions to problems
Today’s consumer is confronted with the challenge of not being able to
recognize harmful products and is never sure whether they are
purchasing the correct product as a solution to their needs. We had
experts on Hair trichology, Natural hair, Nails and Nail care,
Dermatologists, Stylists, Dentists and many more.
Panelists Irene Njoroge and Dr. Pancholi
moderated by Patricia Kihoro
The Pz Cussons Stand
Top 40 Under 40 2015 finalists Rose Ntongondu
hosts visitors at her stand
Battle of the Barbers Sponsored by Phillips
The event also created a springboard for upcoming talents in the
Industry through creative competitions where they got an opportunity
to showcase their work and get recognition, reward and new
opportunities. Competitions on make-up application and barbering
were some of the activities that took place during the event.
The event, which is held once every year, this being its second edition
after the inaugural event in 2015, managed to create a market place for
consumers where they were able to meet and interact with various
brands. The Expo was able to bring together over 40 exhibitors in Hair,
Beauty and Personal care industry under one roof for a period of three
days that the event took place.
The Marini Naturals Stand
Panelits at the Hair Clinic panelists Segment
sponsored by Hair Hub Trichology Centre
Audience enjoying a panel session
The Lintons Beauty Stand
A measure of success was achieved during the three-day event, which
created a buzz in the industry as majority of the participants managed
to reach the targeted objective. Great Team effort, hard work, great
supportive partners and articulated planning were some of the factors
that led to this success. We open our doors again next year with the
same mindset of providing a platform that would be beneficial to all the
stakeholders in Hair, Beauty and Personal Care industry.
Makeup Competition Contestant
The Aliyana stand
Visitors shopping at the Expo
Naturalistas in the Audience
The Lanolin Professional Hair Stand Salon
The Kitoko Makeup Stand
Nail Pampering at the Pam Nail Polish Stand
The T444Z Stand
BEHIND THE LENS
IN BLACK AND WHITE
Focus on Mutua Matheka's GRVTY Project
In the world of creating inspiring images, that change our view of how we see our country and
world around us, Mutua Matheka is king. He’s the creative eye behind #IAmACityChanger and
part of the #OneTouchLive ensemble whose latest project was at Vipingo Ridge located in
Kenya’s coastal region.
Mutua recently shared images he conceptualized for a 2015 project for an exhibition with his
colleagues at Prokraft Africa. The exhibition project was and continues to be right up this issue’s
alley on discussing the role of being black in this day and age.
We asked him what he perceived the role of his images would be towards building our
self-esteem as modern day Africans on the continent.
“To me, GRVTY is my way of relating with my ideas of blackness. I really honestly want us
as black people to see and truly believe in our beauty, intelligence and place in this
world. Nairobi is my muse; I want people in Africa to see their cities represented visually
in a beautiful way that validates us. I hope we may find our place of pride in this modern
continent. Pride in who we are and not necessarily culture or tradition.
Who we are - as Africans in Africa.”
In my mind, visually,
I wanted this project
to be a stark contrast
of black and white.
“I hope we may find
our place of pride.
In this modern
I started to think of the many ways we see
whiteness/lightness (of skin) as the answer or
at least as a way out; flawed beauty standards
leading to skin lightening and bleaching.
If she saw whiteness as the way out, how far
would she go to be white?
I got the blackest model I knew, Gabu; as well
as the most expressive model I knew, Thogi.
I wanted a certain element of hardness with
Gabu and softness with Thogi.
Task: Interpret Black whichever way you want to
Concept, Photography & Edit: Mutua Matheka
Models: Winnie Muthoga a.k.a Thogi & Gabu Fords
Make Up/Body Paint: Sinita of Cultured Ego
WITH A GREAT MO COMES
Interview with Wachirah Gitahi
For more on the project visit Mutua’s website
I thought about what blackness is perceived
as in a white world vs. in my everyday world.
Gentlemen get ready to put down your
razors - Movember is here! What is that
you may ask?
“The world Movember is a portmanteau
of the Australian-English diminutive word
for Moustache “Mo” and November;
also known as No-Shave November.”
(Wikipedia). It’s a month long awareness
initiative that focuses on the cancers that
affect men such as Testicular, Prostrate
It is believed that the movement was
started in Australia by a group of
young men, who thought it would be a
good idea to grow their moustaches
for charity throughout the month of
November. The story spread across the
world and eventually became the
movement it is now.
THE WOMEN WHO
The mechanics are simple: On the 1st
of November men are urged to shave
their moustaches and beards, then
document the growth on their social
media platforms throughout the rest of
Movember KE, lead by Wachirah
Gitahi, was started in 2012 as an
experiment. Over the years, it has
steadily gotten a following and
Kenyans have begun holding necessary
conversations on men’s health. The
local team has, till now, been purely
sharing men’s health information on
their social media platforms but this
year they are planning to take things a
Images Courtesy of Movember KE
“Movember aims to change the face of men’s health
in Kenya. Men really do not talk about their
problems. But with this movement we hope to start
a conversation through a fun twist to get them to
start talking. We believe it will change the state of
men’s health not only in Kenya but in the whole
world.” Wachirah explains.
He also adds that beyond cancer there are many
other topics such as depression, healthy living and
fitness that they would like to discuss in the month’s
awareness activities. “We also want to raise
awareness on childhood cancer and cancers
affecting women specifically,” he adds.
Within the Movember stable, there is one gentleman
by the name Torsten “One Nut” Koehler, a South
African who has this year celebrated 21 years of
being cancer free. Lucky for him, the cancer was
detected early, so he was able to beat it. Torsten is
the founder and face of Love Thy Nuts (SA) and the
Movember team is in talks with him to bring over the
Wachirah acknowledges that Kenyan men find it
difficult to seek help in regards to their health. “Men
tend to seek professional help much later on when
things have worsened. Growing up as a man, we are
taught from a very early age to not fear anything but
to ‘Take it like a man’.”
In a bid to understand further, I ask him what facial
hair means to his self-esteem. Wachirah wisecracks,
“Nothing says manly like facial hair!” but further
explains that, “Some view their beards and facial
hair as a source of self-esteem. But others, who are
able to grow it but opt to shave it, may not share
this feeling. However, among circles those who
cannot grow facial hair get their fair share of ridicule
from those who can grow.”
With Hairpolitan’s readership being predominantly
women, I ask him how we can help the Movember
campaign this year. Wachirah informs us that women
are welcome to support their MoBros during this
time; and in true Movember speak, the women who
are supportive are fondly called MoSistas.
“These inspirational women are committed to raising
awareness of men's health issues and much needed
funds for men's health along the way; and we
acknowledge the MoSistahood and celebrate their
role as purveyors of fine moustaches and beards,”
he says. There you have it ladies, become a MoSista,
support your man, father, brother and friend in a bid
to raise awareness on men’s health issues this
November and beyond.
"Ill-health of body or of mind, is defeat. Health alone
is victory. Let all men, if they can manage it, contrive
to be healthy!" Thomas Carlyle.
Gee K – Outreach, Movember KE
Ayub Kiptanui - Organizing Secretary, Movember KE
ADVENTURES OF VILLAGE BEAUTY
– A STUDY IN ESTEEM
By Nepurko Keiwua
Beauty looked up at the dusty clock peeping from among the peeling flour wrappers
that served as wallpaper in her small makeshift house. She and Darkness a.k.a Danielo,
or the man she fondly remembered as her boyfriend had had a falling out
During the Gono Debacle in Liet Wan, Village Beauty had firmly but finally closed the
door to her love temple. She just couldn’t sure that Danielo wasn’t dipping his Marietta
Biscuit into strange cups of tea in Liet Wan; so she decided to abstain and save herself the
trauma of the Wan crab walk and cranberry juice sipping.
Big D, as she fondly referred to her lover, had not taken
this cooling of relations well at all. He immediately
started hanging out with her former best friend Ako. This
current turn of events had driven Beauty to madness; she
started to really question her worth. Beauty looked at her
sad reflection in the mirror - Mama had always told her
she was beautiful but now, she wasn’t so sure anymore.
She looked at her prominent forehead, small almond
eyes, deeply dark skin tone and buckteeth with deep
sadness. In a fit of fury, she had chopped her long,
long hair and now looking at the mirror she just felt
ugly as she thought about Ako. She kept on thinking
how beautiful the man-stealing hussy was, with creamy
luscious light skin, her long curly hair and very pretty,
“Next to her, I’ve always looked
like a damn ugly duckling,” she
thought to herself as she
replaced her sad smile with the
detested and oft contested duck
face that every one in Wan
Central liked to favor, when they
went to get their picture taken
by Kagaira, the village
Beauty sighed deeply and got
ready for work in the stoic
silence she favored every
morning; she filled her mabati
(metal) cup with Kahawa (coffee)
Alphacoffee, Qenha’s finest AA
coffee grown for export, and
paired it with a stale slice of
bread. Working at the posho
(flour mill) meant that she got to
make off with any and all extras she could find,
including cast off flour and stale loaves of broad. When
she was done with breakfast, she scrambled to get
dressed and cover her ugliness.
As she turned the key in the lock to her front door, she
sensed someone behind her and turned swiftly, quickly
expecting to chase off one of the neighborhood kids but
she found herself nose to nose with Ako.
Man stealer Extraordinaire. Ako gave her a piercing gaze
and moved to block her way. Beauty’s shoulders slumped.
“As if this couldn’t get any worse? I’ve got to deal with
this ho in my way” Beauty thought to herself and
inwardly rolled her eyes before plastering a plastic
smile on her face and hugging Ako the Man Stealer
tight and close with a big, “Heeeeey”.
“Oh, hi B.” Ako replied as she hugged Beauty so tight
she almost broke her bones. Because that’s what she
really wanted to do. Ako had always been jealous of B
since they first encountered each other at the Friday
Soko (Market). Ako, you see, didn’t have the privilege
of working a clerical job like Beauty did at the posho.
She ended up working at the
mzungus’ (white people’s)
houses in the Ren for peanuts
but deep down in her heart she
was unhappy, and Beauty
represented the thorn in her
Ako had come across a quote
on one of the back issue
magazines her employer liked
to give away to the mali kwa
mali (trade in) guys who
prowled the neighbourhoods in
It was by some Chinese -
American actress called
Margaret Cho and she felt it
described her arch-nemesis
Beauty to a T.
“I am so beautiful, sometimes people weep when they
see me. And it has nothing to do with what I look like
really, it is just that I gave myself the power to say that
I am beautiful, and if I could do that, maybe there is
hope for them too. And the great divide between the
beautiful and the ugly will cease to be. Because we are
all what we choose.”
For baked treats made