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My African-American sister-friends have often joked that if I ever finish my nappy pride crusade in America, I’ll have plenty of work to do in Africa.

Several of them have spent time on the continent, and have lamented how disappointed they were to see how so many of the African women shun their natural hair texture and show a high preference for the perm.

While I’m not aware of any “research” that has measured the level of perm prevalence in Africa, observations from my own personal visits to the continent have provided enough anecdotal evidence for me to conclude that "nap denial" among my African sisters has reached epidemic proportions.

On my most recent visit to Africa, I was part of a documentary team on assignment in Senegal, Swaziland and South Africa. It was nice to be with a team of professionals where all of the women happened to wear natural or African-inspired hairstyles. What was so ironic was that our hairstyle preference seemed out of place in many of the places we visited during our stay in the land of our “roots.”

While we wore our natural and African-inspired 'dos with quiet pride, far too many of our African sisters flaunted bone-straight perms or hid their nappiness under bad wigs.

I saw many African women who were dressed so regally in traditional attire, and looked so regal from shoulder to toe. But the European-influenced hairstyles they embraced diminished the authenticity of their own unique and rich culture.

Afro denial was most evident in South Africa. From the capital of Pretoria -- the urban center of Johannesburg -- to the outlying townships and villages, the perm reigned supreme.

<>Even in Greenfields, one of the shantytowns where poor residents live in shacks, there was no sign of perm deprivation. The women managed to find the means to straighten their hair. Juanita, the leader of our team, ran her fingers through the hair of a 6-year-old girl whose hair had been chemically relaxed. It was dry, brittle and the ends were split. The mother told Juanita that she relaxed her daughter’s hair so that it would grow.

“You don’t have to do that,” Juanita told the little girl’s mother, as she flipped her own head full of long, thick, chemical-free locks to prove her point.

Another young lady, whose close-cropped natural hair attractively framed her cherubic face, told us that she was going to relax her hair very soon. Oblivious to the beauty that she already possessed, she told us “I want to be pretty.”

By the time we finished bombarding her with compliments about how attractive she looked, she promised that neither she nor her children would be getting a perm any time soon.

My friends were right. When it comes to getting our sisters in America and Africa to recognize and accept our own unique beauty, there’s still plenty of work to be done.

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I am an African-American living n Africa. Due to colonization and popular media, there is a status to being lighter-skinned and having straight hair. During the beginning of the Aparthaid era, whites did not know what to do with the mixed race people (some of whom looked white). By placing a pencil in the hair of a mixed-race person it would be determined if one were to be catagorized white or colored. If the inserted pencil fell out then you were considered white, if not you were colored. SO straight hair/European features raised your status. It was considered good to have straight hair. I have seen fewer that 3 African women wearing their own hair. As hot as it is here, most women wear waist length weaves, cheap wigs. Many wear woven braids , but very rarely do you see anything natural. Believe it or not some in service jobs refer to white males as "master"

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