I am bald. Or as we say in the local Ghanaian parlance, the ‘Lord’ has elected himself as my barber and in perpetuity. The first time when I discovered I was losing my hair was back in 2002, at the University, Prior to that, I carried an afro with a few natural locks on the top. I was born with what was and still describe as ‘mmpese-mpese’ or locks-it is often associated with children depressingly claiming to be gifts from a deity.
I have no idea if there is any scientific evidence to back it, but, growing up in a heavily ritualized community, even being a left-handed chap gave me lots of pain in school. A left-handed child was considered ‘evil’ and all manner of things, so I had the unfortunate experience of fingers always being whacked with plastic ‘rulers’ until my fingers got red and the nails cracked. And it was all to get me to conform to being able to write with my right hand.
Forgive me for taking a short route but it is to provide a certain context about my hair and how the perception fueled my painful past. The first person I remember shaving my hair was my late mother. She applied lots of soap to the hair and used a shaving stick, a stainless-steel type, to scrape everything off. There was no single hair on my head and I did not appreciate that at all. My ‘sakora’ head was a great source of fun to some of my peers, and they often waited just to slap it. I had to launch my left leg into the abdomen of a kid who spat into his palm and slapped my head from the back.
I gave him a proper “dressing” on that day until onlookers stepped in and separated us. Since that incident, none of my peers ever slapped my head again. Yes, they made jokes but did not have the courage to attempt slapping it as if my head was part of a collection of Atumpan drums on display at a state function. I have always had different plans for my hair so when I discovered portions had started falling off, I did everything within my power to stop it. I consulted hair products from Kotokuraba market in Cape Coast to Tema Community 5, where I bought different hair products and religiously applied them to the receding portions.
I was even told of a man up in Aburi who had saved others with similar problems to mine, so I was given directions to go and see him. I did not make the trip, but I ended up getting two herbal products from him. I was optimistic about the outcome and even dreamt of a hairstyle I had seen in a movie that I wanted the same. I even wanted to copy a Roberto Baggio ponytail which he out doored at the World Cup in the United States in 1994. That was how desperate I was to save my hair. But after applying those chemicals and being so optimistic about a positive outcome, anytime I looked in the mirror, my heart raced with disappointments; different parts of the hair kept coming off and with speed. I was deeply hurt. I was roaming around the Cape Coast castle one afternoon when one lady selling hair products said to me in Fante: “Oh my brother, why have you allowed the Lord to apply his scissors on your head-these products of mine will confront the Lord’s scissors in ways you cannot even imagine.”
I was not up for her raps, but she kept pushing until I gave in and paid for just one small container. I applied a small portion of it to the receded portions right in her presence but the pain I felt compelled me to jump into the ocean and wash everything off. Right before her very eyes I tossed the container in a dustbin and walked off. After that encounter, I told myself nothing was going to work and the earlier I accepted the situation, the better for me. I went to a shop in one of the halls, got myself shaving sticks and took everything down.
I looked in the mirror in the bathroom and I liked what I saw. And it has been like that since. But on one Tuesday night after getting home late from a program in the office, I retired to bed and had a rather strange dream. The dream was simple-my hair was back and I had gone to a saloon in Prampram and the boss there had given me a mohawk and had sprayed the top red. I was excited. I sprung up from bed with joy and the first thing I did was to run my right hand on my head.
There was no afro. Maybe it was the ‘konkonte’ and the smoked fish with groundnut soup that took me to Afroland.
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