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Tales from the hood: Perms and Zazu!

Today i had a recollection of the scariest day of nmy hood life. It all begun one morning when my mom got upset with me for not washing the dishes.

I hated and still hate doing dishes simply because growing up as the youngest of two sister meant i got to do the dishes. I got to eat the wing part of the chicken (am not sure how i still love wings), I got to eat the top, head of the maize cob and many other things i just hated everything especially domestication. oh but i digress am talking about the scariest day of my life.

Mom had a way of making you uncomfortable if you didn't do your chores she made sure she did every chore you should have done till you felt ridiculous and if you tried to do anything else she told you to leave it. Being a weekend i decided to go behind our house and chat with my neighbor, Amake Danny.

Amake Danny was a fun woman who was married to a young man we grew up with in the hood called Mudala. He was one of the very first people who embraced the principle of starting a Kantemba and that is what made him popular. We would all go and get free candy from his Kantemba. At the wife was brought from the village it was really hard for us to get used to the idea of addressing him by the respectful title of Atake Danny. We would walk to his house and say "Amake Danny aliko Mudala" (Mother of Danny is Mudala Around?).

At some point Mudala would go AWOL. He would spend nights at the most happening bar in the hood. If one wanted to buy some goods from the Kantemba, you went to his house and asked Amake Danny. If you said "Atake Danny Baliko? she would say awe baja zina inachinja muzibaitana ati Achigona mu bar" (Is Danny's Father around? No thats mans name changed just call him the man who sleeps in a bar).

So when i got to Amake Danny's house i happily asked her if Achigona mu bar was around. She told me no he isnt and introduced me to her young sister Martha. I was shocked and didnt know that Amake Danny had a sister in  Lusaka especially since Mudala really used to mistreat her.  One fo the first things i noticed was that Martha had a really beautiful huge Afro.

We sat outside as Amake Danny cut her vegetables chatting. Martha told me about herself i learnt that she worked as a maid in Kabwata and she complained that her sister looked malnourished and unkempt for a married woman. she told her to consider going to the village if her husband was not 'serious'.  As we sat, we heard a familiar voice calling out "kilimu ya Pe" instead of cream ya perm (Perm relaxer). The voice was that of a man nicknamed Sibaba. He was a short congolese man who pronounced everthing wrongly.

When Sibaba was visible he stopped by the road and shouted:

Sibaba: Iwe gula cream ya perm osachita kumutu monga ni doormat (Hey you buy some relax, don't let your hair look like a rug)
Amake Danny: Imwe chokani apa na vi zazu vanu vobaba (Go away with your painful fake relaxer)
Sibaba:  Sibaba!Nizakukongolesa, ulipile mailo sisi yako yaikala doormat (It doesnt hurt, I will give you on credit because your hair has become like a door rug)

Eventually, Amake Danny was convinced and went ahead and got the ZAZU (Fake Perm Relaxer). She asked me if i knew how to relax hair and i agreed.  Martha said she would also like to relax her hair which i agreed to. I had relaxed hair before as my sister and I had permed hair for years what i did not know was that the rules to ZAZU and Genuine relaxer were different.

After they had lunch they called me to relax their hairs. I even went and got rollers from home to set their hairs with. I quickly put cream in Martha's Hair and combed it out and told her to let me know if it started paining. I then started applying cream in Amake Dannys Hair, as i was about to comb it out, Martha Screamed and started jumping up and down. I for a moment thought she was playing because it was too sudden.

Martha's screaming attracted the attention of other neighbours who came to see what had happened. I started pouring water in Martha's Hair and as I run my fingers through it the hair fell off. One of the neighbors came to help our water while i tried to rinse it but the hair continued falling off from the roots. Her head looked like a properly plucked chicken because even a potato cut would not have the effect the zazu had.

After the burning stop Martha opened her eyes and saw her hair on the ground, she tried to touch her hair and only felt her scalp and cried.  Meanwhile, Amake Danny was busy calling me to wash her hair as well as i washed her hair the results were not as disastrous as her young sister.  However, she had several inconcealable bald patches.

Amake Danny unlike her sister took to the veranda cursing the day Sibaba was born. She was so angry she managed to decipher the chemical composition of the Zazu and it included some potent juices from Mr. Sibabas loins.

Sadly, Amake Danny didnt have the money to even pay the barber. I was really scared my mom would give me a bit but she just asked me why i was trying to be a hairdresser. she then said you combed the hair after putting the cream, you dont do that for ZAZU!



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Miss.Wanki said…

You took me on a trip back to childhood...

Most of my older sibling's friends used Zazu with varying degrees of efficacy.. some results were as bad as Amake Danny and her sister's. .

I recall my older sister using it too but I guess she was an 'expert' because her hair was akways on point..

There was a time however when she used zazu to relax my cousin's hair.. this cousin had just been brought from the village and she wanted to keep up with town appearances.. she screamed and kept on saying 'Ileumfwika kwati nimpipili'(it feels like chilli)..her hair was lighter after washing but she rocked her processed hair with pride and even she applied gel to it...

There was also something else people used to relax their hair which was not as potent as Zazu.. it was a stove cleaning cream called known as "Trix" must have been a Reckit and Coleman or Refined Oil Products (ROP) product if am not mistaken.. it was somewhat effective in processing hair..

African hair is usually so stubborn and we try to find ways to make it manageable.Relaxers like Revlon or Olive oil may be preferred but I guess the Zazus and the Trixes of this world where a cheaper option.

Great piece Susan..

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