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Why Are Gambian Women Obsessed With Brazilian Hair?

Brazil may be widely known as the land of the legendary footballers like Pele, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and most recently the supremely talented enfant terrible, Neymar Junior, but there is more to this country of breath-taking sandy beaches, carnival-loving people and the famed Samba music.

The South American country is now an exporter of a whole new different commodity. It is called Brazilian Hair. Recognized for its unique texture and elegant looks, Brazilian Hair, as explained by Ancha Gaye of New Jeshwang, “is purely natural, groomed by women in that country to incredibly long bundles.”

As a result of the high level of poverty in this populous country of charming women, its women are now fully cashing in on nature’s gift to them. “They give their hair the best of treatment knowing full well that the longer one hair grows, the more money she stands to fetch from clients. Some women would allow their hair to grow up to twenty to twenty-five inches. Can you imagine”?  Ancha asks rhetorically.

The curly weave type of Brazilian hair

So why are Brazilian hair weaves increasingly becoming such a highly coveted material for womenin The Gambia despite the astronomical cost attached to them? The answer, says Princess Absa Samba of the UTG’s School of Journalism and Digital Media, is rooted in the simple fact that having a Brazilian hair bundle dangling on one’s shoulders oozes class; an indication that Ms. X Y Z is also singing from the same hymn sheet or shopping from the same market as any other member of society’s crème de la crème.

Further, ‘quality’ is one other factor that seems to be playing a part in the popularity of Brazilian hair extensions in The Gambia; perhaps a reason why they are highly visible in most events involving pomp and pageantry.Unlike the synthetic hair, a virgin Brazilian hair extension, according to self-styled diva Jankey Jobe, looks natural, long lasting, coupled with the fact it doesn’t get rough as others. Besides, it’s very cute while the texture feels natural on the body.”

Frontal Lace type

Therefore, for those ‘Jongomas’ or better still  lasses who have it high up there on their wish list, it is a no-brainer that they would  prefer to part with a mind boggling sum of 20,000 to 25,000 dalasi to acquire one. That’s the annual income of so many full-time Gambian employees. Is it a misplaced priority for some women? It would be unfair to adjudge, for what are cherries to me can be peanut to my own wife.

One thing that cannot be disputed is the fact that just as countless young Gambian men are being wowed by the tricks and flicks of Brazil’s flair footballers afar, their female equivalents on the other hand seem to have found a new beauty sensation in virgin Brazilian hair bundles.

For now though, word is that women in Peru, Mongolia and India too are also reveling in what has become not only a windfall for them but even traders dealing with the product here in The Gambia. As the legendary Bob Marley put it ‘Who the cap fit, let them wear it.’

Well where the Brazil Hair is actually from has attracted a lot of online debate controversy. Many people suggest the fancy expensive hair called the Brazilian Hair might not come from Brazil at all.They suspect the whole industry might be a scam by Chinese businesses to attract clientele.But whether or not it’s Brazil doesn’t matter to the Gambian consumers.They just love it.

Famara Fofana is a freelance journalist and communications specialist with Child Fund International

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