Wednesday, 30 November 2011


Albinism is a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited condition occurring in both genders regardless of ethnicity, in all countries of the world. BOTH the father and mother must carry the gene for it to be passed on even if they do not have albinism themselves. 

The condition results in a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes, causing vulnerability to sun exposure and bright light. Almost all people with albinism are visually impaired, with the majority being classified as “legally blind”. While numbers vary, in North America and Europe it is estimated that 1 in every 20,000 people have some form of albinism. In Tanzania, and throughout East Africa, albinism is much more prevalent, with estimates of 1 in 2,000 people being affected. The term “person with albinism” (PWA) is preferred to the term “albino”

 While albinos in sub-Saharan Africa have faced discrimination for many years, their situation has become far more dangerous in recent years in Tanzania. Albinos in Tanzania are increasingly targeted by those who would kill them for their body organs, limbs and even hair to be used in luck potions by others seeking wealth and good fortune in business and professional circles. According to local residents, witch doctors use the organs and bones in concoctions to divine for diamonds in the soil, while fishermen have been known to weave albino hair into their nets hoping for a big catch on Lake Victoria. More than 50 albinos have been killed in Tanzania and neighboring Burundi in the past year - prompting a network of protective services and a few arrests and murder trials which have been fast-tracked by the Tanzanian government.

A teenage Tanzanian albino girl sits in the female dormitory at a government-run school for the disabled in Kabanga, in the west of the country near the town of Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika June 5, 2009. The school began to take in albino children late last year after albinos were being killed in Tanzania and neighbouring Burundi by people who allegedly sell their body parts for use in witchcraft. Picture taken June 5. (REUTERS/Alex Wynter/IFRC/Handout)

Mabula, 76, crouches beside his bed January 25, 2009 in his mud-thatched bedroom in a village near Mwanza near the grave of his granddaughter, five-year-old Mariam Emmanuel, an Albino who was murdered and mutilated in an adjacent room in February of 2008 and who was buried inside the mud hut to discourage grave robbers who commonly dig up albino bones. (TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

This picture taken on May 28, 2009 shows human body parts including a femur and what appears to be stack of skin tissue exhibited in a courtroom during a trial of 11 Burundians accused of the murder of albinos, whose limbs have been sold to witch doctors in neighbouring Tanzania, in Ruyigi. A Burundi prosecutor, Nicodeme Gahimbare, demanded sentences ranging from one year to life in prison at a trial. Gahimbare requested life sentences for three of the 11 accused, eight of whom were in the dock over the killing of a eight-year-old girl and a man in March this year. (Esdras Ndikumana/AFP/Getty Images)

A Tanzanian Red Cross Society (TRCS) volunteer holds the hand of an albino toddler at a picnic organised by the TRCS at the government-run school for the disabled in Kabanga, in the west of the country near the town of Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika June 5, 2009. (REUTERS/Alex Wynter/IFRC/Handout)

Albino children take a break on January 25, 2009 in a recreational hall at the Mitindo Primary School for the blind, which has become a rare sanctuary for albino children.(TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Neema Kajanja, 28, molds a pot from clay at her grandmother's home in Ukerewe, Tanzania on January 27, 2009, where she and two siblings, both albinos, curently live. Ukerewe, an island on Lake Victoria near the town of Mwanza, is a safe haven compared to other parts of Tanzania where people with albinism now live in fear for their lives as their body parts limbs, internal organs and even hair grow increasingly sought after to be sold for luck potions. (TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Nine-year-old Amani sits in a recreational hall at the Mitindo Primary School for the blind on January 25, 2009, where he enrolled following the murder of his sibling, five-year-old Mariam Emmanuel, an albino who was murdered and mutilated in February 2008. (TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Albino children play at the Mitindo Primary School for the blind on January 25, 2009. The school has become a rare sanctuary for vulnerable albino children in Tanzania. (TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

An albino child poses at a picnic organised by the Tanzania Red Cross Society (TRCS) at the government-run school for the disabled in Kabanga, near Kigoma, Tanzania on June 5, 2009.

An Albino teenage girl copies notes from a blackboard in her classroom at the Mitindo Primary School for the blind on January 28, 2009 in Tanzania. (TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Challenges that PWAs are facing in Tanzania
The horror of a rapidly growing industry in the sale of albino body parts. This unimaginable evil is driven by the belief (in some areas of the country) that the body parts of PWA possess magical powers capable of bringing riches if used in potions produced by local witchdoctors. To date, reports indicate that 78 PWA have been brutally attacked and their body parts hacked off and sold to witchdoctors. Of the 78 attacks, 62 were murders and 16 are mutilated survivors. 

Leaders in the albinism community believe the actual number of attacks & deaths are closer to 100 or more. Reports also indicate that albino body parts are being exported outside of Tanzania. In one instance, a Tanzanian trader was caught traveling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo with the head of an infant with albinism in his possession. He told police that a businessman there was going to pay him for the head according to its weight.


What is “Muti?”
Muti (pronounced mu:ti) is a zulu word that means traditional African medicine or magical charms.1 It is a word most commonly used in southern Africa to represent African medicine. It specifically means African medicine involving the use of human body parts

Muti and the use of human body parts
Human body parts are used in muti to support the belief that regular muti medicine will be more effective if human body parts are involved. The body parts are often taken from live victims. This is because it is believed that the screams of victims being hacked enhances the potency of the medicine.3 Muti victims are mostly children and most recently in East Africa, persons with albinism. Body parts of muti victims are not only
traded locally, but are also often transported across borders of various countries where there is demand.


Simon Fellows, author of a 2008 report titled Trafficking Body Parts in Mozambique and South Africa explains that where human-organ-muti is found, there is often the belief that such muti is a source of wealth and business prosperity.4 70% of people surveyed by Fellows in Mozambique and South Africa for example, believe “that body parts make muti medicine more effective and that such medicine can solve any problem,
from poverty to health issues.

Albino Killings are Muti Killings
The use of albino body parts for muti is part of a larger practice in the use of human body parts for muti. 6 Conservative estimates in the past decade show general mutirelated killings of 30 persons per year in southern Africa.

 Muti killings specific to persons with albinism is higher however. In East Africa, between 2007 and 2010, scores of persons with albinism have been killed. A more accurate estimate would be higher given that not all cases are reported. Also when one takes into account the link of muti to poverty and the rising rates of poverty on the sub continent, a higher number of victims of muti is likely more accurate.

Why Now?
Muti killings have been going on for decades and in some cases, for centuries on various parts of the African sub-continent. The degree and extent and whether these killings have intensified or abated are questions that are not easily answered. This is because muti activities are often shrouded by a “code of silence” which makes reporting, and the necessary prosecution and investigation all the more difficult.

 The silence in muti-use and trading is made worse by the fact that the consumers of muti medicine often remain a mystery.

International Help
There is a UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, (“the Trafficking in Persons Protocol”) signed in the year 2000.10 This is the Protocol that comes close to covering trafficking in human organs.

Article 3 (a) of the protocol defines Trafficking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

In essence the protocol prevents human trafficking in the event that the victim is alive and the purpose of movement of that victim is to remove body parts. The protocol does not cover the issue of movement of body parts that have been removed without any of the coercive elements above.11 It is this gap in this international protocol that calls for stronger responses to muti from governments at the national level.

National Response
In line with our mandate here at UTSS, the following presents national responses only to those muti-related killings of persons with albinism.

In July 2010, The High Court of Mwanza, Tanzania convicted 50 year old, Kazimiri Mashauri and sentenced him to death for the brutal murder of a 5 year old girl with albinism. The girl was mutilated and killed for the purposes of muti-related beliefs.12 Other similar trials are currently underway in Tanzania.

 men accused of murdering and selling body parts of persons with albinism are jailed in Burundi. Of the 5, 1 was found guilty of "planning and carrying out the killings" and sentenced to life in jail. The other 4 were found guilty of attempted murder and kidnapping. Their jail terms ranged from 7 to 15 years.13

UTSS’ Stance on Muti
Under The Same Sun condemns use of the human body for muti purposes. Particularly, UTSS condemns the targeting and killing of any human being, including persons with albinism.

At UTSS, our members of staff on the ground in East Africa and North America areworking hard to ensure the health, safety and well-being of persons with albinism in sub Saharan Africa. We are doing this through several programs in education, health and public awareness. We are also inviting governments to condemn muti killings while asking national governments in East Africa to investigate, try and punish those
behind this gruesome trade.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

History of Africa

They call it "Mother Africa", which is justified considering that we have all descended from it. In fact, this continent of mother Africa was embedded with all the other continents into a larger supercontinent called Pangaea about 250 million years ago. But this is not when we as a human species would have originated. Rather, this happened about five million years ago with the evolution of the hominids, which were still very similar to their cousins - the great African apes. Actually, Africa is the birthplace of both the hominin subfamily and the genus Homo, including eight species of which only the homo sapiens remains.
There was apparently a time in Africa when blonde haired Caucasians stood next to the tanned skin, next to those as black as night. Africans are the only humans to carry all four gene characteristics < , where the remaining people hold only some portions of the four. As Africa began to dry up, the forests retreated, creating the open planes of the savanna, where the hominid had an advantage over the apes because they could travel on twos instead of fours.
Around 2 million years ago the Homo Habilis evolved, which was the first to use tools and which enabled it to regularly eat meat.
Around 1 million years ago the Homo Erectus evolved, who had a much larger brain, developed many tools, and mastered the African plains, becoming one of the continent’s most lethal predators. It was also the first homo to master the making of fire and to leave the continent of Africa, populating the entire Old World. <mention about Inuit looking like Chinese..>
Africa in Pangaea
Fossil records show Homo Sapiens living between 100,000 and 150,000 years ago in southern and eastern Africa, where their exodus from Africa is shown through linguistic, cultural, and lately computer genetic analysis. The hominids actually began communicating on some basic level around 2 million years ago, but around one million years ago the FOXP2 gene came into existence, giving the new hominid greater communication skills and helping them cooperate on a greater level, allowing them to eventually kill off the more primitive Neanderthal man (also because they were better able to cope with the upcoming ice age). Besides the use of tools, our communication skills and ability to cooperate gives us our greatest advantage above all other animals.
Africa - ancient Egypt
Once leaving Africa, communication between the ever dispersing Homo Sapiens would have evolved further until we have the history of languages as has developed into what it is today. With the end of the ice age around 10,500 BC, the Sahara had become a fertile valley again, drawing to it Africa’s population from the interior and coastal regions. But the dry climate returned around 5,000 BC, forcing the population to move toward the Nile region in search of fertile ground. Agriculture and domestication of animals evolved up to 3,000 BC, around when the climate became dramatically drier and forced some populations to move to the more tropical climate of West Africa.
Left: African Egypt expansion into the Middle East.
It was in northwest Africa that the Beaker culture originated, from which the warrior mentality emerged. Eventually many from the Great Lakes region of Africa would migrate and settle along the eastern Mediterranean to become the Canaanites, from which came the Phoenicians, who gave us our alphabet. The Phoenicians were the first great mariners and developed an extensive empire across the Mediterranean, eventually setting up their capital in Carthage on the north coast of Africa. It was there that they subdued the Berber people, who benefited greatly from trade. Carthage quickly grew into a great and unrivalled city on the Mediterranean, until it was finally ransacked and destroyed in 146 BC by envious Rome many centuries later.

 History of Ancient Egypt in Africa

In the Nile region over a period of 3 millennia (from around 3000 BC) reigned the ancient Egyptian empire, which developed complex systems of irrigating the Nile river, their own writing system (hieroglyphs - recognised as the world’s oldest writing form) and culture until finally conquered by the Roman Empire in 31 BC (after it was ruled by Alexander the great for a certain period - although he generally allowed freer self-administration in his conquered territories).
The great river Nile, with its ability to offer transport and by its fertile deposit of silt with every annual flooding, enabled the peoples there to organise and become more efficient at food production, opening up free labour for such ambitious pursuits as pyramid building. The expanse of populations was so great that it was even divided into Upper (up river) and Lower Egypt. The region was inhabited and developed from as early as 11,000 BC, but in 3150 BC it was united under one head by Menes, who became their first king. This sophistication or water use and development of free time due to high productivity (the complex irrigation system created one of the main agricultural breadbaskets of the ancient world) led to many firsts developed in Ancient Egypt: engineering and surveying (used to outline pyramid bases), hydraulic cement, traditional empiricism, roots of the scientific method, possibly the first alphabet, the decimal system, and complex mathematical formulisations (not to mention coffee - from Ethiopia).
Africa ancient egypt Tutanchamun
Glass making was highly developed in ancient Egypt, and recent explorations have indicated that holes drilled into the sarcophagus, found in the great pyramid, used drill speeds and bore rates that cannot be duplicated even today. Other areas of question not yet answered by archaeologists and scientists alike is whether they had some understanding of electricity, if they used engines or batteries, or had some understanding of aerodynamics through the use of kites and gliders. Many are convinced that extraterrestrial aliens helped them with their development.  

 History of the Bantu People in Africa

Before the Bantu, the southern half of Africa is believed to have been populated by Khoisan speaking people, today occupying the arid regions around the Kalahari and a few isolated pockets in Tanzania; whereas Cushites and other people speaking Afro-Asiatic languages inhabited north-eastern and northern Africa. Northwestern Africa, the Sahara, and the Sudan were inhabited by people speaking Mande and Atlantic languages (such as the Fulani and Wolof) and other people speaking Nilo-Saharan languages.
Bantu means "people" in many Bantu languages. The Bantu had a distinct advantage because they developed a selection of crops better suited to tropical Africa, a farming culture which helped them to be more productive than the surrounding tribes, allowing them to support a greater warrior base and eventually subdue the others. This theory has also been supported by linguistic studies showing a high degree of similarity among African languages in general. The Bantu encompass more than 400 different ethnic groups across Africa, united by a common language family and, in many cases, by a common customs. Theories suggest that the Bantu may have been forced to migrate into the rainforest of Central Africa (phase 1 of expansion) due to populations migrating away from the drying Sahara. A thousand years later they began a more rapid and second phase of expansion beyond the rainforest into southern and eastern Africa, followed by a third expansion based on new agricultural techniques first developed in Zambia.
Africa Bantu languages
By 1000 AD the expansion had reached Zimbabwe and South Africa, where in Zimbabwe a major empire was established with its capital in Great Zimbabwe and which controlled north-south trade of gold, copper, precious stones, animal hides, ivory, metal goods, and eventually slaves. The Arabs were long the main slave merchants in Africa, but some chiefs partook in the practice as a means to profit from clashes against other tribes. The slave trade scattered the Bantu empire until its eventual demise between the 14th and 15th centuries, its great capital left abandoned.  

 Enslavement of Africa

Another area where empires were formed was in West Africa, where important trade routes and extensive fertile land nurtured their development. North Africa also benefited from trade with other Mediterranean countries and was soon incorporated into that cultural sphere through dominance by the Roman Empire, and later by the Byzantine Empire.
Map of Africa in 1890
From the 8th century until the late 16th century trade between with Mediterranean countries across the Sahara Desert by caravans of Arabian camels created important trade patterns and development. Perhaps due to more fertile ground in Europe, higher population growth there, and endless wars fuelling the technological arms race, development progressed faster there, until a lack of space prompted them to venture for new lands to expand to.
This was started by the Portuguese in Africa, but was soon followed by the other major European powers. There was obviously much profit to be had from the trading of raw materials, and the Europeans used their more sophisticated and advanced weaponry to give them greater benefits of trade. The weapons were used to enslave populations, which were in turn used to extract natural wealth and increase profits.

Intertribal factions were exploited to fuel the slave trade, where coastal African tribes hunted Africans inland (in exchange for metal cookware, rum, livestock, and seed grain) and helped exasperate the problem.
Map of Africa in 1890.
The more developed Arab peoples infiltrated Africa from the east and were themselves very active in the slave trade. Concerning Europe, a triangulation of trade eventually developed with weapons shipped south, Africans shipped west to the Americas (to be used as cheap labour while extracting the mineral wealth found there), and from there raw materials were sent back to Europe for further processing.
The Europeans carved up Africa, working inland from the coast and often along compass readings or rivers, inadvertently dividing up traditional nations of peoples who may have developed together along both banks of a major river. This unnatural division of people eventually contributed to much of the conflict presently visible in Africa today.
On the southern tip of Africa a small pit stop developed for mariners heading east to India and Asia for the purpose of trading in spices. However, the temperate climate of the region similar to Europe’s eventually led to its increased inhabitation by the Europeans. Perhaps because Africans possess the mother of our genes and a more robust gene pool, the continent was not afflicted so heavily by the European diseases which practically obliterated the Americas.

On the contrary, the Europeans were afflicted by malaria, mostly because they were accustomed to settling in lower valleys and along rivers, where mosquitoes fester and where the epidemic was further
exasperated by the fact that Europeans tend to live in much tighter quarters than do Africans. But with the enslavement of the continent the Africans were also shuffled into the developing urban centers and now suffer the same affliction.

How the European powers carved up Africa.
Africa European Colonies
With more endless European wars and lost battles, the losers often lost their grip (either through lack of resources to protect them or through war reparation agreements once another Europe-wide war was over) on their African colonies, who frequently passed over control to another power (mostly in the favour of the French and British). 

The coastal regions became dotted with fortresses and ports which gained great wealth for their controlling powers while raping and pillaging mother Africa of much of its wealth - both material and human. Even now it is said that poor countries possessing mineral wealth (such as oil) find such wealth rather a curse because they get tangled in agreements beyond their control, get exploited and run over by much more powerful nations, and become much worse off than if the mineral wealth had remained undiscovered (take East Timor as the most recent example). 

 Melting Pot of Cultures

As you can see, from the Bantu originally spreading across much of Africa, the Egyptians up along the Nile, the Berber inland from the north, and eventually the Europeans with their fortress cities and compartmentalisation of Africa, the use of more advanced agricultural techniques and weaponry have been instrumental in shaping the more recent history of Africa and its cultural development in different areas. In the 7th century Arabs invaded Egypt and swept their way westward, consuming the entire north and practically obliterated any signs of Christianity there, even making it onto continental Europe to the mountains of France. Of this entire region, Christianity (Coptic) survived to some measure only in Egypt, mostly because of East Orthodox Ethiopia, almost the only African nation to maintain an independent hold on its territory throughout the long and bloody history of the continent (Ethiopia was spared by the Arabs because of its history of harbouring early Muslim converts against retaliation by pagan Arab tribes).
This Islamisation of the north has had a profound affect on Africa’s further development and spread south through trade and the camel across the Sahara, and along the east coast where the Arabs, Persians and Indians maintained flourishing colonies.
The Turks, who conquered Constantinople in 1453, later established Algeria, Tunisia and Tripoli. Morocco remained an independent and Arabised Berber state.
But camels don’t fair too well in dense rainforest, which is pretty well where the southern stretch of Islamisation stopped.
However, as empires tend to go, the extent of the Islam empire across all of the Mediterranean met its peak and Christian Europe turned the tides, forcing the Muslims out of Spain, taking over North African countries and eventually developed commercial ties with Egypt. From that time until well into the 19th century, control of the northern coastal countries was unclear and often subject to insurgencies by the Islam Moors, who were forced out of Spain.
Africa satellite orthographic
Later, Egypt was occupied first by France, then by Britain, after which Turkey tried to gain control but which led to an agreement and an independent state, which from 1820 onward had free rule into Eastern Sudan. France took over Algiers in 1830 and Egypt continued its expansion southward until it discovered a great inland sea, sparking further interest for exploration by the Europeans, who were very intrigued to learn of the source of the river Nile.
Africa Official Languages
Meanwhile, in the southern half of the continent, Protestant missionaries were performing their zealous expansionary work, often themselves converting to explorers and pioneers of trade and empire, such as David Livingstone. In this way, the last blank spots on the map of Africa were filled. Following the heals of these missionaries and explorers were European railways, a technology which helped open up the interior for further exploitation and the spread of different cultures. 

With the greed of manufacturers and traders on the one hand, and the philanthropic zeal to "Christianise the savage barbarians" on the other hand, the continent was partitioned and allocated into foreign ownership on the drawing tables of Europe (with the exception of Ethiopia and Liberia), without the slightest consultation of the Africans it was affecting. In some areas the conquests were primarily for economic reasons, while in other areas the dominion included an immigration of whites and the setting up of new communities and minority white-administered cities and zones. France even aspired to incorporating Algiers into its motherland, inasmuch making it an integral part of the European mainland.
But subduing Africa by white power alone was not sufficient but required the cooperation of local tribes, who exploited this weakness to work out agreements and strengthen themselves against other tribes. Inevitably such shifts in local power structures created friction and instability. 

Up to World War I Germany jumped late onto the colonial board, and during WWI the Africans witnessed the barbarity of European battles. Africans were summoned to help and they quickly realised their strength, and the newly exposed weakness of "invincible Europe". A new sense of African unity and pride developed because of this, although European hold on the continent remained strong. Mussolini even tried to take over Ethiopia, but this last unconquered African nation held out and sent the Italian troops scattering westward.  

 Decolonisation and a New Africa

Then came WWII, where the demise of Germany’s influence in Africa fell with hammer to nail in coffin, and by 1951 Libya was the first in a long domino to free itself from the grips of colonial power (although Liberia, South Africa, Egypt and Ethiopia were already independent.) Most other African countries followed suit over the next two decades, sometimes with bitter wars, with the remaining gaining independence through the 70s and 80s (the last, Eritrea, split from Ethiopia in 1993). Many of the cities, even countries, originally founded by whites were given new names. 

But with a change of the guard, rebellions, and the ethnic and deep rooted tensions which arose because of the arbitrary borders drafted in Europe, instability in many parts of Africa ensued. Europe continued to profits from Africa by selling arms to the many warring factions, leading to further instability with the fumbling for new power. Even worse, some weapons, such as land mines, made it difficult for farmers to grow crops and who were maimed or killed in the process. 

Such instability, constant wars and lost arable land led to broad starvation and suffering. Most recently, the nationalisation and nab for land by president Robert MUGABE of Zimbabwe has led to a substantial decrease in crop yields there due to the poor training of the new landowners, or simply because the new owners profited shortsightedly by selling off all the captured farm equipment, leaving the fields to rot. 

Horrible atrocities were committed between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes in Rwanda, a segregation of very similar people and first begun by the Belgians.
Then we have the painful Darfur situation.
It seems the mark of African exploitation will still be felt for several decades, but the international community is slowly coming on board to help this inflicted continent. Debts are slowly being written off to enable some of these nations to rebuild, and there is some hope in new technology, such as the 100 dollar PCs, solar and other renewable energy, the internet, and a continent-wide wireless network. With such technology Africa is expected to undergo a major revolution within the next decade or two, when it will leapfrog and hook up to the global internet structure. This could bring needed income into poor and rural areas and hopefully bring the entire continent out of its present problems, into a new and prosperous area.
But global warming and diseases such as aids and malaria are crippling much of its development and could for some time still. The changing global weather patterns could hit Africa particularly hard, which is not financially prepared to recover as easily as the wealthy west. 

The west has profited greatly from a brutal exploitation of this our mother continent and should take up its responsibility to return some of that wealth and help these nations to their feet.
link map of Africa

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

I love You Mama

Amazing how silence can be so loud, like rhythm of music filling my ears
Between distance and silence I could understand all u yearned to say
As my mind was filled with pictures of beautiful memories of you and I
Words were not needed to express what we felt , love so pure and so serene
Our hearts spoke louder than a sound of music a beautiful melody from heaven
Like a beautiful rhythm that our hearts yearns to hear so beautiful that our eyes tear

As we sat there counting the stars down deep wishing our years be that many
I could clearly hear your heart pray your little prayer that I hope was heard
All years we have spent together and all the pain we endured for each other
No words will be enough to explain what our hearts have endured for our sake
And yet as we sat there in silence my heart knew and was content
You mean the world to me mama and your place is sacred in my heart

Friday, 7 October 2011

AFRICAN LADIES: Tips to long healthy hair

There's the difference in the texture and Hair density African hair style tends to be very coarse and either coiled or kinked and in color african hair color, tends to be black (with only rare variations). However, few people who aren't African realize that there are less visible differences. A healthy African  hair on human scalp contains about 60,000 follicles. 

What are the hair care basics?

Many people seem to think of their hair as almost indestructible.  We treat it with chemicals, we towel dry roughly, we blast it with heat.  We pull it up in ponytails (every single day).  We'd like to suggest you start to think of your hair more like a collection of delibate fibers. 

If you had an expensive silk blouse, how would you treat it?  Your hair, while pretty resilient is not indestructible and treating it gently will pay off.  Black hair will tend to be more dry.  And, it is easier to break.  For natural black hair, the places where the hair coils, curls and twists are also points where the hair tends to break.  

The more of these points (as in African hair), the more the hair is prone to breakage.   Also, because our hair is kinky, it tends to tangle more and pulling these tangles out can cause breakage.  If you have put a perm in your hair, you've fundamentally altered the structure of the hair making it a little less strong.

  • Before going to bed, section off your hair and put a few plaits in it.  Or, tie it back or wrap it up using a scarf.  By tying your hair down you will reduce the amount of tangles you have to comb out the next morning.  Less tangles=less breakage.
  • Bedding is important.  If you can get a satin pillow case (we sell one here), that's great.  At a minimum, sleep with a satin scarf or sleep cap.  The satin material is smoother than cotton and will absorb less moisture from your hair.  This helps avoid the damage that the friction from cotton pillow cases can cause.
  • Washing your hair too often is probably worse than not washing it often enough. How often you'll have to wash your hair will depend on how much sebum you produce, how much you sweat, your hair type, the climate where you live, etc.  But, as a rule-of-thumb, wash your hair no more than once every week ro weeek and a half.  Some people will need more, some will need less.  Start with a week and see how that works for you.
  • Comb your hair out while you've got the conditioner in it.  This will help remove the tangles while your hair is slick helping the comb glide thorugh with minimal breakage.
  • Oil/moisturize your scalp on a regular basis with a good natural oil.  We have several including some with Shea Butter, Argan Oil, Emu Oil and Jojoba Oil, our favorites!  A daily moisturizer is a good idea for a lot of people.  Maybe not necessarily daily, but every couple of days.
  • Deep conditioner or do a hot oil treatment monthly.  Using a conditioning cap like the Hair Therapy Wrap will help drive the conditioner deep into the hair shaft.
  • Regularly take your fingers and just give yourself a little scalp massage.  This will help improve your scalp's ciruclation and oil production.
  • Stay away from products with mineral oil or petroleum. These are cheap fillers used by some cosmetics companies.  They give the feeling of oils that would be beneficial  But, they tend to clog the pores (are comedogenic).  And, they are not easily absorbed by the hair or skin.  This is a case where it's best to stick with natural oils.  If your mother used Vaseline® on your hair, stop.  If you're using that pink stuff.  Well, you might want to reconsider.  Natural oils tend to cost more.  But, they are most definitely worth it.  Your hair and skin will thank you.
  • If you exercise and sweat a lot on a regular basis, the salt out of your hair even if you don't wash it.  Rinse it thoroughly with very warm water and condition it with a leave-in conditioner. 
  • Heat can be a killer for hair.  We blast our hair regularly with temperatures that would bake a roast.  Avoid excessive use of heat on your hair.  This is particularly important for those women with relaxers.  Do not take your hair to bone straight at the hairdressers and then have to use a lot of heat and product to get it to hold curl when you're back home.  Stop short of bone straight.
  • Avoid alcohol based products unless you have a need for a water-free shampoo to cleanse your scalp (for example while you're waiting for your locks to lock).  Having said that, not all alcohol is bad.  Ethyl and methyl alcohols are two you generally want to steer clear of.
  • This is tough for some of us.  Keep in mind that water is your friend.  Water, inside and out is good for your hair and skin.  Drink plenty of water daily.  Spritzing your hair with water or water based products can help keep it hydrated.
  • Your hair doesn't begin at your scalp. For proper hair formation, its' important you give your hair the right nutrition so that the shaft that is formed in the follicle is health before it even appears above the surfcace or your skin.  Eat a well-balanced diet with vitamins that proteins that are essential for hair and skin development.  Treasured Locks offers nutritional supplements specifically designed for hair and skin health.  Hair Growth Supplements
  • So many of us fight our hair.  Try to work with what you've got.  We constantly have clients telling us they want hair just like this or that celebrity (and many of the celebrities they want to look like are sporting weaves).  As much as you can, find a style that is compatible with your natural hair type and the way your hair grows.  We all want to style our hair.  But, the more you can go with the flow, the happier your hair and you will be.

Some tools you should have in your kit 
  • A great moisturizing shampoo: The good shampoos will cost more.  However, the better shampoos use more gentle cleansers and are generally more concentrated.  You might find they actually save you money over the course of time.  But, you will find that your hair will quickly look and feel better.
  • A great conditioner that has a fairly low pH.  A lower pH conditioner (lower than 7) will be pH balanced to slightly acidify the hair.  Acidifying the hair will make it shine more and reduce tangles.
  • A good deep conditioning treatment or a hot oil treatment that you like.  This is really enhanced with the use of  conditioning heat cap which opens up the cutilcles and drives the treatment deep into the hair shft.  This is especially critical for dry brittle hair that has been damaged by neglect, abuse, heat, sun and/or chemicals.  We have several here:  Hair Repair Products
  • A leave in conditioner or a product you can use to moisturize frequently.  This is what you're going to use on your hair after you've cleaned it and between washings.  This product should provide moisture at a minimum and preferably oil and moisture.
  • A comb that works for your hair type.  So much damage is done by trying to drag some skinny toothed combed through naturally curly hair.  The more coarse and/or thicker your hair, the more you'll need a comb with wider spaced teeth.  
  • A satin pillow case, a good satin or nylon scarf or cap or wrap to wear while you're sleeping. 

    Monday, 26 September 2011

    MEET QUEEN RANIA OF JORDAN: Most beautiful Queen of our generation

    Kazi kwenu sasa, I have always known kwamba middle East kuna wanawake wazuri, lakini huyu mama Daaaaah! 

    According to the times magazine, Queen Rania is one of the 100 most influential people in the world and she also has a great wardrobe, perfect combo if you ask me! She doesn't wear the hijab but she dresses fairly modestly and most of what she wears is 'hijabifiable'.

    I just can't get enough of Queen Rania of Jordan. This woman is amazing and she looks like a movie star!!!

    Rania was born in Kuwait as the second of three children to a Palestinian paediatrician. The family fled to Jordan following Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Her brother Majdi has said their upbringing was "boring in its normalcy" – but that is just what allows the Queen to connect so successfully with her people. "I understand where they are coming from," she says. "I am a product of this society and I can relate to them." Rania went to the New English School in Jabriya Kuwait, before reading Business Administration at the American University in Cairo and moving back to Jordan to take on high profile marketing jobs at Citibank and Apple. Shortly afterwards, however, her life was set to change forever...