My name is Kasuba which means sunshine. I am originally from Zambia which is in South Central Africa. I am currently living, working, and building my legacy in Cape Town. I am the co-founder of Rockin Naturals, a natural hair product line that caters to the naturally conscious. In just under six months I will be marrying only the most awesome human being I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and then we will literally be BFFs (can’t wait). When I’m not being a mixtress, I work in Marketing and PR and facilitate youth camps and processes. I am passionate about literature, travel, good food, and family (sometimes in that order). I go to church every Saturday because I would be nowhere near where I am today if it wasn’t for God Almighty.
How long have you worn your hair natural and what made you decide to do it?
I have been natural for 2 years 8 months. Before I even knew I could maintain my natural hair, I had shaved my head and I rocked that look for close to a year. I then decided to start growing my hair in preparation for a relaxer. I would live in braids and weaves until eventually I felt my hair was long enough. I took down my braids and immediately relaxed my hair. The breakage was real! I couldn’t even style my hair properly. That was the deciding moment for me; a week later I cut my hair and with a little help (ok, a lot of help) from my older sister, Mwanabibi, I never looked back. I simply got tired of relaxers that promised me great hair but never delivered.
When did you first realise that you love your natural hair texture and what exactly do you love about it? Describe your hair.
To be honest, it took me a while. About a year into my journey I did a braid out that was everything! You know when all the natural hair stars and planets align and your hair comes out YourTube worthy? Yup that’s what happened and that’s when I fell in love with my tresses. I have really coily hair; like, it shrinks to more than half its length when wet. I love that it does its own thing. I wake up in the morning and I don’t know what to expect. When my hair was relaxed it was always limp but now it’s full of body and personality, just like me.
What is your hair regime, including products that you use. What do you do to keep it healthy?
Well, at the moment my regime is super simple because I am rocking a teeny weeny afro (TWA) again. Here’s what I do:
I wet my hair 5 out of 7 days a week because wash and gos are easier at this stage. Twice a week, I wash my hair with Rockin Naturals African Black Soap Shampoo. It detangles, cleanses, softens, conditions, and defines texture all in one, and it has peppermint so the tingling sensation is a bonus!
I don’t normally condition after a shampoo because African Black Soap shampoo is sulphate free so it is not so rough on my strands. I do a weekly deep condition with yoghurt, honey, and Rockin Naturals Hot Oil Treatment – I love to mix hair concoctions! Although, since my second big chop, I have reduced deep conditioning to once every two weeks.
Sealing and Moisturising
For me sealing is the most important step in my regime because my hair loses moisture quite quickly. I seal with Rockin Naturals Shea Butter Hair Pudding which contains coconut oil and olive oil. My hair loves the stuff — the shea keeps it soft and fluffy and the cedar wood essential oil keeps dandruff at bay. When I don’t wet my hair in the mornings, I spritz it with Rockin Naturals moisturising mist. Although, at the moment, I am doing Mandy’s Winter Hair Growth Challenge, because long hair haha!
What have your experiences been as a natural, including reactions from friends, family and colleagues.
When I first cut my hair, one of my closest friends told me I looked like a man. That cut me deep because, when I was a child I went to a school that didn’t allow us to relax our hair so mine was always short. When I moved to a school that did allow it, I was teased about looking like a boy. After a while though, the experiences became more pleasant. More people asked me what it is I do to make my hair look so good. My family has been great. They are always so supportive of the things I do. Also, when I did feel like giving up, my fiancé was always there reminding me that it is part of who I am.
My second big chop has been a whole new learning experience because I am coming from a place where I have already accepted my hair and the stigma surrounding it. Now, when people ask me wide-eyed why I cut it I just say “It’s hair, it will grow back”.
Do you know of any other women/girls who wear their hair naturally in your community?
Because of the nature of my business I know many but a few have made an impact in my journey:
Mwanabibi Sikamo – my stunning big sister who has supported me through my journey and who has been like a mentor to me with regards to my business, my hair health, relationships, and life really. You get the point. I love you.
Timothy ‘Nice Beard’ Stuurman – not a woman, but he has been there from the beginning of my journey, encouraging me to build my brand and product range and, even if he’s balding, he uses Rockin Naturals products on his beard so technically he’s a natural. I love you.
Ashleigh Davids – confidently quiet, she has taught me about self-love and self-acceptance; beauty that shines from within.
Amanda Cooke – the passion is real here! She’s an inspiring woman always willing to lend a helping hand. A big haired sister with an even bigger heart.
Eleanor Barkes — we haven’t met yet, but I just know…
Have you experienced any opposition from anyone in your life regarding how you wear your hair? Have you ever been made fun of?
Like I said before, I have been told I look like a guy. Other than that, there hasn’t really been any opposition to the way I wear my hair. I have been lucky enough to be in circles where what I look like is secondary to the value that I add as a human being. Now, when I look back at people who teased me for looking like a guy, I just chuckle and think how sad it is to impose your insecurities on others.
Do you ever experience any moments of doubt about your natural beauty?
This was a big issue for me during my school years. I am dark skinned (and I don’t mean Garnier dark; I mean you better put your flash on if you’re taking pictures of me at night dark) and this was always perceived as unattractive. I began to believe I wasn’t beautiful enough. Now I can laugh at how ridiculous that notion is and, while sometimes I might feel unattractive because my hair is not co-operating, or my skin has decided it wants to mimic a Vaseline slathered child (you know, the Sunday look back in the day) on some days, I no longer doubt my beauty because it doesn’t only result from what I look like.
What is your hair goal?
It used to be neck length (NL), shoulder length (SL), bra-strap length (BSL) and whatever other length abbreviations are out there. I was so keen on having super long hair, I hardly ever trimmed it even if I knew I needed to keep my split ends in check. Now my goal is simply healthy hair. The length is a bonus.
What is your best hair advice to someone who is thinking of returning natural, but who is apprehensive about doing it?
Do your research and find out what works for your hair. It’s not one size fits all. Good hair comes from the inside.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt during your natural hair journey?
On a personal level, I have learned to listen to my own advice. I was always warning women about dying their hair and how drying it could potentially be and then I threw my advice in the trash and dyed my hair. It didn’t break but the dyed tips just needed so much more moisture than my roots, so it was almost impossible to take care of the two textures.
That’s where my second big chop and my second mistake came in. Since going natural, hair dressers have just not been on my list of people I can trust. Nonetheless, I decided I needed my dyed tips cut off so I went to one of those la de da hair salons that you find in the mall (because they’re trained for this stuff and they know what they’re doing supposedly). Biggest mistake ever! She cut my hair great and then we did a blow dry and a flat iron and the heat damage was appalling — looking back I probably should have sued or something because this has become a mini PR nightmare for me. A week later, I had to cut my hair again, hence my current TWA. Conclusion? Listen to your hair.
In certain parts of the world, like the UK and the US, the shift from relaxed to natural hair is referred to as the “natural hair movement”. Do you think it’s viewed in the same light in South Africa? What do you think of this phenomenon?
I definitely think the movement has spread to South Africa. More and more women are returning to natural. I honestly think it is more than just hair. It is empowering women to accept themselves for who they are and, in turn accept others. Personally, it is shutting out the messages the media throws at me, telling me my hair is not beautiful enough, sleek enough, long enough, conventional enough, and embracing it as it grows out of my head.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Just that they don’t need to take the whole natural hair thing too seriously. It’s a journey of enjoyment and constant learning. Do you — what works for others won’t necessarily work for you. Embrace your hair, not Tracee’s, or Amanda’s, or Nomthandazo’s.
Is there anywhere else where our readers can find you online?
Facebook: Rockin Naturals