Took place at Cottons on Sunday 1st September, 2013
The first presenter to arrive was guest speaker Solomon a guest speaker from Ais4Afro. I did not recognise him, as I was expecting to see an afro and not braids. he was so enthusiastic, despite travelling all the way from Bristol. With his selection of Black and White photographs he transformed a corner of the room into a mini studio.
He started his project in 2013 which involved randomly stopping people on the streets in UK and asked questions about their thoughts, feelings and opinions of afro hair and life in UK. During a short time he managed to take over 1000 images which have been developed in black and white images that have also been exhibited at events. He has produced a book called Ais4Afro which uses the whole alphabet phonetically ie B is for Black. C is for etc until Z is for????. The book is overflowing with a diverse range of images from captured expressions of African and Caribbean male and female of diff ages with different hairstyles. He is self funding his project using the sales of key rings and printed portraits, with an attempt to publish copies for sale.
Kandace was the next speaker but due to a technical hitch we were unable to show images through the projector to complement the presentation she gave about her knowledge of Ancient African combs and artefact. She expressed facts and historical data about African contribution of adornments and explained very well about Ancient Egypt and the oldest combs which had symbolic and influence in historical history today. Kandace passion had led her to write several books Step Back in Time to Ancient Kush a children’s book with illustrations and Secrets of the Afro Comb, 6000 Years of Art and Culture. She was also instrumental as a committee member at the Origins of the Afro Comb exhibition. Her books can be purchase from – http://www.goldendestiny.co.uk/index.php#
In August I was fortunate to attend Cambridge to view the Origins of the Afro Comb Exhibition (review). The group visit was organised and led by Crystal. During her presentation Crystal gave a brilliant account of her involvement as a committee member and personal attachment due to items donated from her grandma. She stressed the importance of not waiting for Black History Month to learn about history. The guests were intrigued and influenced to go to the exhibition which ends November 3rd.
The final section of the day was the showcase of the short 12min short film called Pass The Comb written by Charley Jai, Zone 180 and directed by Dandy Theatre Associates. They use this film to challenge the stereotypes seen of young people by telling the story of a young brother in conflict and his older sister using calming influence, reasoning skills and cultural tradition of braiding hair through conversation. The best part for me was as soon as the sister said Pass The Comb reminded me of my relationship with their mum or aunt who would say the same or similar thing. After the showing we had a n interactive panel discussion were the conversation highlighted family relations, stereotypes and many questions directed towards the ending of the film which did not seem to have a full ending. The writer said that this is the norm for short films and done on purpose to allow for open conversation.
During the day I was accompanied by the daughter of guest Denise who helped choose winners for the raffle – Oh and guess what? Lucky Crystal won again, but was kind enough to give her prize to another guest.
I was also fortunate to be contacted by Tina Lasisi a 3rd year undergraduate student studying Biological Anthropology at Cambridge University who is writing a dissertation on African Hair diversity. She spoke briefly about her research which required samples of hair from individuals of African descent to carry out analyses. Please visit her website for further info about her research.
As usual time was against us and we had to end. Each panel member and presenter gave a positive comment or quote to put a close to the event.
After the event a group of us went for a meal. We had several conversations about life, culture, history, science, community, hair, family – so many different subjects. An interesting night and food for thought. It was nice to meet sisters Olivia and Alexis of AA Naturals.
Blessings – Sister E