For more than 6 years now there is a question that pops up all the time in comments and chats: “Why do the girls have short hair ?” I understand why you ask because the girls often have very short hair. They are almost completely bald. But there is a very natural explanation.
Public schools in Nigeria require girls to cut their hair short. It is part of national school policies. If the girls don’t shave their hair very short they are not allowed to sit in class. They will be rejected by teachers.
Out of our 72 children some attend private schools were the policies are different. Our girls in private schools are allowed to attend classes with long hair.
Another reason for the girls’ short hair look is, besides the school policies, the girls don’t grow very long hair like girls in the western part of the world. Many Nigerian women with long hair wear wigs and hair extensions. When they go to a hair salon it is not to get a new hair cut. It is the opposite. It is to get a new hair braiding style.
Hair braiding and its existence has been discovered throughout the history of every African culture as it was a method of communicating details about the life of the person who wore them.
Depending on the region from which the person hailed, his or her braids could tell you about their ethnic heritage, religion, birth order, marital status, age, and wealth.
The earliest evidence of cornrowing ( braids ) dates back to 500 B.C. and was discovered in the ancient culture of Nok which existed in what is now Northern Nigeria.
This method of gathering and manipulating hair into neat rows was so entrenched in the Nok culture that depictions of cornrowing by these ancient hair artisans can be found on their sculptures.
Our female carer Matilda Ekpe has been with us for more than 5 years now. Before we hired her she had her own hair styling salon for many years. She is one of the best when it comes to making braids. The children are now on summer break from school and Matilda is busy braiding the girls hair because during holidays the girls enjoy the freedom of having the hair style they want.