Secrets of the Afro Comb – book blog tour: Author Interview and Competition
Twelve questions with author, Kandace Chimbiri
Last year I visited the Origins of the Afro Comb exhibition in Cambridge (review), which was excellent. Kandace wrote the children’s book to accompany that exhibition.
Hi Kandace, thank you for joining me at The Calabash Hub. Secrets of the Afro Comb is a children’s book but it says ages 8 to 80! What’s that all about?
Yes, that was a bit cheeky on my part! But, in truth, I’ve written and published two previous children’s books and when I meet people in person, they tell me that they are buying all these books for themselves. They say that they didn’t learn this information before and they want to learn it now
How did you come up with the title? Are there still really secrets around Black hair and history?
Absolutely! A secret is something that is only known about by a few people and is not told to others.
How many people know about the long history of Afro combs? How many know about the incredible history of natural hairstyles, much less how to care for their natural hair now? I think that’s partly why the natural hair blogs are so popular.
And, how many people really learn ancient Black history at home, school, in textbooks or elsewhere? In those places which have a Black History Month or a Black History Day, it’s usually confined to remembering extraordinary individuals of African descent who overcame obstacles within the past 200 years, not further back.
What thing did you learn while writing the book that most surprised you?
I was most surprised to learn about the different theories on why African hair type is curled or coiled. Most research seems to be done by relaxer cosmetic companies. Their interest is more in how to make the hair unnaturally straight than in why it is naturally curled and / or coiled.
As you know, The Calabash Hub is all about reaching across the divide. Does 6,000 years of the Afro comb tell us anything about that?
Well, actually, that’s the amazing thing. The Afro comb is a truly iconic object that reaches across both time and place. Of course, there is a huge diversity of styles and sizes of African combs but there are also remarkable similarities too that cross the continent, cross the seas and cross millennia.
What things would you like children in particular to know about their natural hair?
Children too are bombarded with images that tell them what society considers beautiful. They see the adverts in magazines, on TV and they see the film stars and celebrities which society reveres.
This message from wider society combined with a lack of teaching at home, schools, church or temple, etc. can lead children to believe that their hair is not ok and needs to be fixed in some way or hidden at all costs.
We’ve all got to do better and find ways to counteract that incorrect message. They need to know that their natural hair is beautiful.
Was that the hardest thing about writing the book?
There were a few challenges but I think the hardest was actually finding the time to write. That’s a challenge faced by most authors. I work full-time so have to write before work, after work and at weekends. Sometimes it was tough but once the book was finished though, it was all worthwhile.
What is the biggest change you’d like to see as a result of this book?
If you type the two words ‘hair follicle’ into Google right now and select images, have a look at the pictures that come up. Virtually every image is of a straight strand of hair growing from a round follicle. In other words, straight hair is shown as the default or norm and to see images of another type of hair, e.g. African hair type, you would actually have to type the words ‘curved hair follicle’ into Google. I find that so sad and so very wrong.
Unfortunately, this stance carries over into children’s books too. We know that hair, like skin colour, is diverse but we still show straight hair as the standard. I’d like to see the curved hair follicle appear as natural and normal as the straight hair / round follicle in images, on the internet and in children’s books.
I’d love to see from now on all the hair bloggers using the image of the hair follicle that resembles their audience’s hair rather than also showing them a straight hair / round follicle in their presentations, blog posts, etc. Parents and teachers too of course need to do their part but the natural hair bloggers are a powerful medium who can help us make that positive change happen.
What is your favourite ancient hairstyle, and why?
I love the long locs hairstyles shown on the ‘Benin Bronzes’.
Why? Because it’s an elite hairstyle and also seems to be associated with strength and prestige. Until recently, many people thought that ‘dreadlocks’ were invented by Jamaicans!
You looked at hundreds of combs as part of your work on the committee for the exhibition, and chose several for the book, but did you have a favourite comb?
Yes I did! There’s an ivory comb with a Benin nobleman on horseback carved into the handle. That’s my favourite!
Finally, Kandace can you share a little of your current work with The Calabash Hub?
I’m actually working on three book projects at the moment! My first book, Step back in time to ancient Kush, was a simple activity book which combined ancient Black history with activities like dot-to-dots, spot the difference, etc.
I’m working on another activity book at the moment. In fact, the grand prize on this blog tour includes the winner’s likeness portrayed in that book. Who knows maybe the winner will be someone who subscribes to The Calabash Hub!
Kandace, thanks for stopping by The Calabash Hub and thanks for the giveaway!
YOU COULD WIN:
PRIZE: Secrets of The Afro Comb – autographed copy of the book
PRIZE – A limited edition quality print of the illustration of the book collage of beautiful faces
PRIZE: Your face with favourite natural hairstyle captured in a forth coming book
COMPETITION – Terms and Conditions
*Be over 18 years old
*Leave Name and Email address
*Leave a Constructive Comment on blog page
All entries will be drawn after the end of the Blog Tour 5th – 9th October, and the winners will be announced
About the Author
Kandace (K.N. Chimbiri) is the author and ‘kitchen-table publisher’ of three ancient African history books for children; the history-themed activity book, Step back in time to ancient Kush, The Story of Early Ancient Egypt and Secrets of the Afro comb, 6,000 years of art and culture.
Her idea was simple: create the books that would be there if the world was fair. She aims to create books that are good for children of African descent. Secrets of the Afro Comb, 6000 Years of Art and Culture (ISBN 978-0-9562525-3-1) is available from Amazon click here for details or from the author’s website www.goldendestiny.co.uk.