Hair politics: To weave or not to weave

10th July 2015

Internationally-acclaimed trumpeter, Hugh Masekela, has reignited a long-standing debate about black women wearing weaves. Bra Hugh, as he is affectionately known, was reported to have asked for extra security detail at a show in Durban, to “shield him from weave-decorated women”.

The musician has held this view for a long time, stating that as a person who preaches heritage, he cannot be seen to condone weaves by posing with women who wear them.

Artist and activist, Ntsiki Mazwai, spoke to 702’s Stephen Grootes this afternoon, praising Bra Hugh’s criticism of women who wear weaves.

Mazwai said the country is at a critical time of trying to reclaim its identity and that this calls for an environment of pride in our own heritage.

The issue is not about a man telling a woman what to wear. Identity is a male AND female issue. He is saying celebrate your African beauty ladies and I will gladly take pictures with you

— Ntsiki Mazwai, Artist and activist
She said that she hopes weaves will go out of fashion soon.

As long as I’m not seeing white women in afros, I have a problem with my people trying to look like white people.

— Ntsiki Mazwai, Artist and activist
702 presenter, Gugulethu Mhlungu (who dons a shaven head) weighed in on this issue, presenting a different perspective to the argument.

Mhlungu highlighted that black women’s hair is a very political and contentious factor that has a lot to do with one’s personal identity.

Black women’s hair has become everyone’s battlefield. A lot of the time, the assumption is that women who wear weaves and a particular type of weave, hate themselves.

— Gugulethu Mhlungu, 702 presenter and City Press Lifestyle Editor
Mhlungu said that the type of weave a woman wears has also become a factor. For instance, musician Simphiwe Dana wears an Afro-type weave, which is more acceptable than the long and straight type, however it is still a weave.

It is dangerous to assume women who wear weaves do not love themselves, or project on to people. Who are we to tell people that they don’t love themselves?

— Gugulethu Mhlungu, 702 presenter and City Press Lifestyle Editor