Friday, April 15, 2011


While visiting Cape Town Joan decided to have her hair plaited in African braids.  The experience was fun yet more than a little bit painful. It was a chance to learn how the many beautiful  black African hair styles seen on women in South Africa are created. It was an opportunity to try a style that could travel very easily on this trip and why not try something new, something really different.

The braiding took a total of 6 hrs and 20 mins. Emelda  was the Zambian born stylist who did the braiding. Many clients came and went during the 6+ hours that we spent in the salon and we learned much about plaiting, the sewing in of hair extensions to create longer, smoother styles that could then be curled and/or cut.

It truly is both a science and an art. Most black women in South Africa use braiding and extensions. Some use full head extensions, while other styles use part extensions and then style the remaining with their own hair. It is a very creative process.

For Joan, the braided style gave her opportunities to talk with black African women about their daily lives and concerns. There have been many moments of conversation with women, young girls and sometimes even boys about the "Rasta", as in Rastafarian.  One woman exclaimed, "Now you have the face of Africa".

Chi Chi

While a hair style is a small and superficial thing, it has been a catalyst for connection with people in South Africa. We will always remember their warmth, generosity and beauty.

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