So I would fidget and squirm to the annoyance of my mother who would almost lose patience with me.To make matters worse if we were watching television while my hair was being done I would cock up my head every five minutes even if there was news on the telly.
By the time I was in standard five my mum discovered a group of Congolese women in the nearby market who plaited hair. Rather creative in their hairstyles I actually looked forward to having my hair done almost every two weeks and more than eager to show off my new hair do at school; even though I had a sore head for a couple days.
Joining Form One I was in a mixed day school and each week we were expected to change the hairstyle. Watching my classmates plait each others hair I caught on pretty fast and practised on my young sisters and mother, talk about reversed roles! My sisters, three of them were not the most cooperative models.
My best bet was to plait their hair while they slept or if not endure their crying from the beginning to the end of the hair plaiting session. The irony was that they did not want to cut their hair either. During my ‘A’ Level vacation I slowly but surely learnt how to plait my own hair with braids. So by the time I started university I had a hair do that I had proudly done myself. It was at the university that I first earned money for plaiting hair.
So while other enterprising students sold clothes make up and jewellery I was busy with my fingers on peoples’ scalps. It was a nice feeling knowing I was making my own cash. Even when I got employed I kept up the hair plaiting streak and had bookings for weeks ahead.
But as my regular work as a journalist got more hectic I did less plaiting of other ladies heads but made it a point to do my own hair. One of the most interesting questions asked is how do I see the back of my hair when I do it myself. I patiently explain I do not I just have to my sense of feel and a bit of imagination to get it right.
And now that I have an eight year old daughter my hair plaiting career has paid off. I regularly do her hair. I miss putting colourful beads in her hair as she used to do while she was in nursery school.
My confidence that I can do up her hair is sometimes taken for too much granted and I have on some Monday mornings quickly done two corn rows in her hair.I was rather surprised when she told me recently that her friends are impressed that I actually plait her hair. I personally was of the opinion all mothers know how to plait hair.