Thursday, 3 June 2021

BLACK HAIR STYLIST STRUGGLE?

The other day on twitter someone asked for recommendations for black stylists in the Boston, (USA) area. She got a ton of comments with recommendations and people sharing their struggle trying to find stylists in non black majority areas. One of those comments screenshot below caught my attention because it made no sense whatsoever, well at least to me it didn’t. 

I am actually grateful to this comment for inspiring this post:)


I was like sis what Europe are you talking about, is it the same Europe I know or a different Europe? Or was this the usual American generalisation of Europe you know “I am going to Europe” “I live in Europe” etc instead of being country specific. I had to jump in and comment because that did not make sense to me at all. You can find a black stylist professional or otherwise in the smallest of towns at least in Western Europe if you look hard enough. I mean there are black stylists in Seoul, South Korea! South Korea, a historically homogenous country! Not to talk of Europe with its millions of decades long black residents. There are entire streets in London and Paris (in my experience) where you will find a black salon and a black beauty supply store every two steps you take. Some of these streets actually have people out on the pavement soliciting for clients for their salons. I mean we are in 2021 not 1921, it doesn’t make sense to fly all the way across the Atlantic to get your hair done, that is one pricey hair appointment. I mean even if one lives in an Eastern European country, it is cheaper to fly or take the train whichever gets you there quicker, to London, Paris, Brussels and even Amsterdam I believe, where you can get a same day service at a walk in salon than flying back to the US.  And you get to visit another country in Europe in the process, so that’s a win win two birds one stone kind of situation. Some Eastern European countries like Ukraine and Russia have African students studying there, some who do hair on the side for extra income. FYI Africans have been studying in Eastern Europe for decades (my half Nigerian half Slovakian bestie’s parents met in Prague as students in the late 60s/early70s) so I am sure there will be a descendant, maybe two or a new arrival who can do hair in some parts of Eastern Europe, especially the capital cities. 

Even in Western European small towns and villages with seemingly hardly any black populations, there’s probably someone who can do black hair or knows someone who can do black hair, it may be an informal home service or an instagram stylist but it is quite possible to find someone there or the next town over if you are proactive enough in your search.  I have a friend who moved to a small town in Germany over 20 years ago, back then black girls in small towns would sometimes have to travel to major multi-ethnic cities to braid their hair and usually through word of mouth recommendations. These days it is much easier to find someone who lives in the same small 99% Caucasian populated town as her, who does home service hair braiding appointments. If there is one thing black people have anywhere in the world, it is a strong informal network of service providers to suit our black needs be it hair, food etc. Use the resources at your disposal, we have social media these days unlike back in the day, ask for recommendations online, use the search engines available to your advantage, Europe is heaving with black people who can do hair. That brother you saw at the mall in Iceland, where you were the only two black people in the entire 100 floor mall, could have a sister, girlfriend, cousin, wife, mother, auntie, colleague, or friend who does hair or knows someone who can do hair or even know how to do hair himself. That friendly Swedish shopkeeper in small town Sweden, who owns the corner store down the road where you buy your groceries, could have one other regular black customer he could ask on your behalf, could know of another small town 30 minutes away, with a much larger black population that you the new comer had no idea existed and surprise surprise could even have a black spouse or grandchildren that he could ask on your behalf. You would be surprised the kinds of networks people have. It could be something as random as the owner of the nail shop where you get your nails done, having a son, that works in a factory with a guy from Ghana, and BOOM one thing leads to another and you’ve got your black hair stylist problem in some random Polish city solved! Be proactive in your search.

One of the recurring comments that really hit home for me on that thread was “go where our people are”. I whole heartedly agree. Find our people and you will find a black hair stylist anywhere in the world.

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Monday, 17 May 2021

MID MAY MONDAY MUSINGS!

 

Image Source


Happy mid May! It’s crazy how the days are flying by these days it’s like no sooner has the month started than it’s ending already! Crazy! Anyway just thought I should share some random thoughts going through my head this Monday...

It’s funny how something I grew up eating while sitting underneath my grandmother’s mango tree is now a “thing”...enters Avocado Toast! I come from an avocado growing and exporting country, they are literally found growing any and everywhere in the avocado growing regions, everyone’s compound will most certainly have an avocado tree or three in these regions, it’s so commonplace it accompanies our bread, our meals, our fruit salads, you just name it and we can eat it with an avocado in it or on the side. My avocado privilege means I find it funny even ridiculous at times how this regular fruit is now a “thing”. Wait until I tell you of the many afternoons we spent splitting open macadamia nut shells with little stones to get to the nuts inside during macadamia nut season...or maybe I will wait until macadamia nuts become a “thing”.

Something else that makes me laugh is how English speaking corporations borrow words from other languages and turns them into something else. Let’s take the Italian word for milk “latte” for example if there ever was a word that is overused in coffee chains this has got to be it. Don’t get me started on “chai” which is Persian/Indian in origin but also claimed by Kiswahili (by way of Persia/India thanks to trade, migration and colonialization) which is now almost something considered a “fancy” drink. Everyone and their grandmother wants to be seen drinking or heard ordering a chai tea latte. Chai literally means tea so saying “Chai Tea” is somehow redundant don’t you think? Some people will visit some other part of the world (East Africa, India, Persia etc) where drinking good old regular chai is commonplace and it’s actually called chai and start saying but this isn’t chai tea because it hasn’t been made in the same way as “gentrified” by your favourite coffee chain. And then there are those that open a Bistro and charge prices on the menu that are in competition with five star restaurants. The word Bistro literally means a small inexpensive restaurant. I could go on and on but that’s it for today’s musings my brain is exhausted.

Oh I almost forgot I got caught in a downpour the other day and got drenched from top to bottom, yep serves me right for leaving my umbrella at home despite the rain forecast. As I was drying up later when I got home I noticed my hair was extra soft turns out that whole thing about rain water being good for your hair is actually true. I could immediately feel the difference in the softness of my hair after being soaked in rain water. I am so tempted to collect some next time it rains and use it on wash day!


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Sunday, 25 April 2021

Rice! Around The World!


I recently embarked on a culinary Sunday dinner journey around the world! For several weeks, I made one pot rice dishes from around the world. Why rice? Rice is the most common base for one pot meals around the world, so it was easier to find recipes that revolved around it. Thanks to YouTube I was able to recreate these recipes some slightly altered to suit the ingredients available locally and to suit my palate while some stayed true to their authentic selves.

So in no particular order I present to you;

Trinidadian Pelau

This is I had heard of several times (my heart lives in the Caribbean), watched several YouTube videos on how to make it but somehow never got round to making it until now. I really liked this pelau maybe because it has coconut milk and I love anything with coconut milk in it. For me this dish felt like the offspring of Caribbean rice and peas and Latin American Arroz con Pollo/Galinhada in terms of the ingredients used. This comparison is also the reason why Arroz con Pollo/Galinhada did not make this list, because minus the sugar and coconut milk used in the Trinidadian Pelau, they are more or less the same dish (one pot chicken and rice). Several Youtubers I watched used Worcestershire sauce or browning in their versions of Trinidadian pelau (and that is absolutely ok to do) but I chose to omit them, one because I am sure their ancestors did not use these condiments and two the sugar caramelized enough to brown the dish to my satisfaction. Would I make it again? Definitely, most definitely.



Afghani Pulao/Uzbeki Pulao

This I have had once before at a previous job when an Afghani colleague brought it in for a pot luck day. So good so so good and quite easy for me to make since I already know how to cook East African Pilau which I must say is a cousin to the Afghani Pilau because they are both one pot rice and meat pilau dishes that use pilau masala. The main ingredients are meat (usually mutton from what I gathered in my research) but it is totally fine to use the meat that suits your needs or is easily available/affordable and local to you, rice, carrots and raisins. Now for this I will include the YouTube videos of the particular recipes that I borrowed from by Afghani chefs/Youtubers. I do this because while scouring YouTube for this recipe I came across so many non Afghani’s who have their own version of this recipe which is totally fine, but most of them had so many extra ingredients that were found nowhere in the videos of the Afghani chefs that I watched. One guy had like six extra ingredients, green vegetables and herbs included which did not feature in any of the Afghani recipes I watched. So I decided to stick to the natives of the dish to make it as authentic as possible. A great tip is to try and watch street videos of whatever recipe you are looking for, shot in the country of the dish’s origin; you can hardly go wrong with street recipes, hardly. I loved the sweetness of the raisins and carrots mixed with the pilau spices so good! This has become a staple.  For recipes that I used click here and here.



Benachin (Gambia) Thieboudienne (Senegal)

This I have made several times over ever since I discovered it years ago, it’s my best jollof yet (sorry Nigerians and Ghanaians), I absolutely love it and is a staple for me. It’s literally the same dish with different names in Senegal and Gambia. From what I noticed on the YouTube videos I watched the Gambians tended to make the meat/chicken version and the Senegalese YouTubers I watched all made the fish version.



Spanish Paella

This was a last minute decision I originally wanted to make jambalaya which I have made before but figured I may as well make its cousin paella instead. Also the most expensive dish on this list because seafood don’t come cheap when you don’t live by the seaside and also because it calls for saffron which costs an arm, a leg and a small kidney, but thankfully we are allowed to substitute so I used turmeric instead of saffron to give it its bright colour. I actually used a street vendor’s recipe from a documentary on Spain and its culture I just happened to be watching, which if I am being honest contributed to my decision to go for Paella instead of jambalaya. Besides I am currently learning Spanish so it just made sense to go with paella instead.


Kenyan Pilau

This is native to me, well by way of Indian/Persian migrants but we adopted it in East Africa and made it our own. A staple at any Kenyan/East African event be it weddings, funerals, birthday parties etc you name it there will definitely be pilau on the menu. This dish had to be included because well as you know charity begins at home and what not.


Kenyan Pilau is eaten with kachumbari a chopped tomato, red onion, coriander and lemon juice salad

My Special Loaded Veggie Mix

This is a bonus addition for all my vegetarians out there. It's a mix of cauliflower, broccoli, corn, beans, carrots, onions, yellow and red bell peppers sautéed with some garam masala, steamed and then the preboiled rice added last.

 




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Friday, 26 March 2021

Bride Price – To Pay Or Not To Pay?

Some pay it in hard cash (image courtesy of pexels.com)

Bride price is a common cultural practice amongst many African societies; it is a system that is traditionally used to validate customary marriages in African societies. I am sure the intentions were noble when the ancestors sat down to come up with the terms and conditions for bride price negotiations. But over time and with modernity I personally feel that this is an outdated tradition that has been overtaken by greed and has lost its place in the modern society we find ourselves in. Traditions like many other things are always evolving not static meaning they can be changed to suit evolving times and situations. Imagine forcing a diabetic to drink a cupful of sugar for whatever reason, because it has always been the tradition in your culture, not considering the health risks that come with it? Do you get my point? The same way elders in the past sat down and decided that for a marriage to be valid a woman needed to be “paid for” is the same way elders of today can sit down and decide otherwise.

This post has been at the back of my mind for a long time but was recently triggered by a YouTube video from one of my favourites, click here, who shared a story about the ridiculous amounts her prospective groom is expected to fork out in the name of bride price. I for one have no intention of having any bride price paid for me or my daughters should I have them, my family, relatives and friends who think otherwise will just have to deal with it. After all I am the one who will be getting married if and when I choose to, not them. Some people argue that a man paying bride price is showing appreciation to the bride’s family for having raised her. I didn’t know people had children with the intention of later being appreciated in life for raising them! Is it not parental responsibility to raise one's children? And if that is the case then why isn’t the bride’s family appreciating the groom’s family for raising him too? Or did he fall down from the sky. If that is the argument, then this form of appreciation should go both ways, appreciate both families lets have a bride and groom price.

For me bride price has more negative effects for women than whatever positive effects are perceived by bride price crusaders. Many women stay in abusive marriages in many instances because their families cannot afford to refund the ridiculous bride price they asked for. Oh I bet some of you didn’t know that in the event of a separation/divorce, the bride price or part of it for most African societies is supposed to be refunded. I have only ever heard of one instance in my networks where this was actually done when the couple divorced. It was a whole event both families went back to the village and whatever refund that was to be done was done. Kudos to them! In some African societies a divorced woman cannot have a new suitor pay her bride price before the old one is refunded. In other words, for you to get an exchange at the store the old item has to be returned – do you see how this is demeaning to women? Listen some families in some parts of the African continent even hold on to corpses of dead women until their bride price has been fully paid, if it hadn’t been before. How crazy is that! it get's even crazier in this story click here, a father was asked to refund his dead daughter's bride price in order to be allowed to bury her!

 

Some pay it in the form of livestock converted to cash (image courtesy of pexels.com)

Stories abound of men telling their wives “I paid your bride price, I own you, you must do this and that” basically these men see their wives as commodities that they purchased from the family market and can do with as they wish. There are societies in the African continent where girls as young as 11yrs old from poor families are married off to rich old men in their 60s, so their families can use their bride price as a poverty alleviation scheme. Elders actually haggle during negotiations as to the value of their daughter, the more educated she is the higher the bride price. There are instances in some African communities, where if the girl already has a child (especially if it was with someone else and not the person paying the bride price) then her price goes down because she is “damaged goods”. Such practices equate women to commodities for purchase, you might as well put the bride on the shelf of a supermarket with a tag that says “price subject to negotiations" on her neck. I mean it’s the same concept.

Thankfully there is an emerging trend of more progressive African parents out there who are rejecting the whole bride price concept. I know of a first-hand account where the father insisted that his daughter was not for sale but his kinsmen kept insisting that they have to follow tradition. So the father played along to keep the peace, this is a community where bride price is in the form of livestock usually cows or goats converted to cash (apparently to suit modern times, how ironic). So on the D-day the groom and his people presented the cheque for the agreed cash equivalent to the bride’s father. The bride’s father accepted the cheque thanked his in-laws and then proceeded to hand over the cheque to his daughter and new son in law and told them that was his gift to them to start their new life! Love it absolutely love it! The kinsmen who were awaiting their cut from the bride price were livid! We need more fathers like that.  Hopefully more parents will follow suit and reject this bride price concept all together.

Like I said at the beginning tradition evolves it is not static meaning it changes with time. So how about we embrace a new way of validating customary marriages, how about instead of paying for wives we exchange gifts of equal value between families, how about we exchange gifts from our lands if the grooms people are a rice growing community and the girl’s family from a potato growing community how about each family comes with a sack full of the fruits of their lands; a sack of rice from the grooms side and a sack of potatoes from the girls side and exchange that to cement the marriage traditionally? How about new ways of cementing African traditional marriages that do not demean women, put them at risk for domestic violence because they were “paid for” or risk of child/early marriages because the parents see it as a way out of poverty. How about that?


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Monday, 22 March 2021

Taking Stock Six!

 

I haven’t done one of these in a while so here goes...short one though.

Cooking fried eggs.

Drinking ginger, turmeric water.

Wanting my chocolates to be delivered it’s been a week already!

Wishing for this pandemic to be over.

Enjoying life at the moment.

Waiting to go for an evening walk.

Liking  how fit I am these days, those walks are really working out huh!

Wondering which veggies to have for dinner.

Hoping I can get my chocolates soon. Yes, I know, I love chocolates.

Loving love in all its entirety.

Needing this pandemic to end already.

Smelling the aroma from the freshly baked bread I bought.

Wearing pink shorts and a grey tee.

Knowing that all good things come to those who are patient enough to wait for them.

Thinking about this new productive and fulfilling project I get to work on.

Feeling loved all round.

 

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Sunday, 31 January 2021

Kitchen Korner: Russian Salad!

As a child I lived in a very diverse neighbourhood in an even more diverse city. Thanks to this, I was exposed to a lot of different cultures and foods from a very early age. One of these was what we called Russian Salad which I later came to learn as an adult is also called Olivier Salad. This salad along with most things Russian (tsars, tsarinas, babushka dolls) was introduced to me by our Russian trained medical doctor neighbour, whose two daughters quickly became my childhood best friends when they moved in next door. Naturally we spent a lot of time at each others’ house; our front doors literally faced each other. Anyway back to the salad, one of my earliest childhood memories was of my friends and I helping their mum to make the Russian salad which we absolutely loved! I tried re-creating it from memory with a few extra ingredients that I came across on YouTube. The ingredients that I could remember from my childhood were mayonnaise, boiled eggs, garden peas, cubed carrots and potatoes and corn/sweet corn. I didn’t come across any corn in all the videos I watched while trying to recreate this recipe but like all the YouTubers I watched said, everyone has their own twist to the Russian salad, so maybe corn was my friends mum’s own twist to it. All other ingredients remained constant in all the videos of the Russian ladies I watched preparing this salad, however the one thing they added that I honesty do not recall from my childhood, was some type of sausage or ham and pickled cucumbers.

 

This is my recreation of one of my favourite childhood salads.  I used;

·         One large peeled and boiled potato cubed

·         One large peeled and boiled carrot cubed

·         Half a cup of boiled garden peas (you can use canned if you like)

·         Half a cup of canned sweetcorn (you can use regular corn)

·         One large hardboiled egg cubed

·         Half a cucumber cubed that I pickled overnight for about 16 hours

·         One ready to eat sausage that I browned slightly before dicing

·         A generous helping of mayonnaise.

·         A pinch of salt and paprika for seasoning

 

I boiled the garden peas, egg, potato and carrot, in one pot adding and removing ingredients as needed in order of their boiling time. Once cooled, I mixed everything together then added mayonnaise. It tasted just as I recalled from my childhood with the added tanginess from the pickled cucumber.

Before I added mayonnaise

Final result!


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Friday, 8 January 2021

SHAPE UP!!!

 
 
If you are a curvy or should I say thick girl like me then you probably know the struggles that come with wearing clothes that leave you feeling frumpy and unflattering. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with the outfit or my body shape, I just like clothes to look flattering on me and leave an aesthetically pleasing silhouette no matter the size. That’s why I invest in body shapers that make the clothes look good on me. Whether that means investing in a waist trainer for weight loss which by the way can also be used for working out or for body shaping if one is trying to lose a few inches off the waist area, or any other item that I feel will give me my desired silhouette. 
 
 
 
 
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There is a lot of debate in the fashion world on what is considered plus size, what is plus size in one country may be regular size in another and so on and so forth. This debate is also down to the individuals themselves while a UK size 8 individual may consider a UK size 16 individual as plus size, the UK size 16 individual may be looking at UK size 20 clothing items as plus size. So I guess it’s safe to say that plus size is relative. Well whatever you believe in plus size waist trainers come in extremely handy for individuals who may not necessarily fit into what is considered non plus size. They not only flatter the clothes you wear but also aid in trimming off a few inches if that’s what you are looking for, when worn over a long period of time, properly, safely and using the right size for you.

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If you have been searching for affordable and good quality body shapers look no further, Shapellx.com has an array of body shapers to choose from whether it’s a full body shaper, bodysuits, active wear, firm control compression shapers, they’ve got it all. They offer fast and free delivery for orders over USD80, an easy fit guarantee and amazing discounts on their website. Join the movement today and get your desired shape and silhouette no matter your body shape or size.

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