Dear Friends,


Greetings from the ethereal realm. It has always been my intention to inspire thoughts and foster conversations, and so, today I wish to share something that has been in my mind for a while.

I remember my dear Aunt, who was not just a fantastic chef but also an artist in her own right. She emphasised, quite elegantly, that food is not merely to be tasted but first, to be seen. One might ask why it mattered how a cucumber was cut, whether triangular or rectangular, especially when the taste remains the same. However, as I began to understand the significance of this, it reminded me of an issue larger than what first meets the eye – hair politics in the professional world.

Hair, dear friends, has a story of its own. Take a journey back in history. Think about the times of the transatlantic slave trade, when Africans, children included, were captured and sold into slavery. Their hair, a once-prized element of identity, became a shrouded expression of their forced subjugation. It was shaved, not merely for utility but to strip them of their cultural and spiritual roots. As time passed and their hair grew, it adapted to their new reality.

Much like the shapes on my Aunt’s dinner plate, our hair today speaks volumes about who we are – our group, our beliefs, sometimes even our religion. The professional world has evolved its own intricate script about the politics of hair. Take, for instance, Farie, the renowned ICT specialist who candidly admitted that looks have a significant role in how society grades us. When interviewing candidates, she awards marks not just for skills, but also for appearance, including hair colour.

Likewise, Tendai Dara, a successful author and a dear friend, shared how one’s image is a reflection of their persona in the professional world. Presenting oneself in executive colours like black or brown is preferred, while pink or green could send the wrong message.

In this generation, it is unsettling to realise that your hairstyle could stand between you and your opportunity, rather than your talent or skills. We’ve assigned meanings to hairstyles as character symbols, inadvertently making it hard to discover genuine individuals.

We seldom discuss hair politics because we assume that we’ve resolved it by creating dress codes. However, we lose our sense of judgement because we are overly focused on appearances. For instance, my own wish to sport locs was met with resistance by my own granny, while my workplace was also startled by this departure from the norm.

Discrimination rears its head when colleagues or managers label natural hair as ‘unprofessional’. An instance that remains vivid in my memory is when I walked into my workplace sporting my natural, freehand hairstyle. Almost immediately, interpretations began to swirl around – some thought I was in a financial crisis or heartbroken. The change was so noticeable that my boss almost barred me from a scheduled meeting, citing ‘unprofessionalism’.

While presentation matters, we must refrain from prejudging individuals based on their appearances, particularly their hair. We lose deserving talent in professional settings due to these baseless assumptions. It’s difficult to discover genuine people when we’ve preset notions of what they should look like.

Let us remember, my dear friends, there is more to a person than meets the eye. I leave you with these thoughts, hoping to spark a conversation, or better still, a change.

Yours in spirit,



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