The natural hair movement is slowly gaining popularity in Africa’s cosmopolitan circles. Nappys de Babi is an online community of Ivorian women celebrating the beauty of natural hair. The group draws its name from “nappy” for “natural” or “happy” and “Babi,” the nickname of Abidjan, the elegant Ivorian costal city. Every few months, the women gather in the posh of Cocody district of Abidjan to share hair care tips and learn more about different natural styles. Now almost two years old, the group has over 2,400 members on Facebook. The group combats the view that straight hair is ideal by encouraging members to rock their afros and twists with pride. Ayiba’s Akinyi Ochieng recently spoke with Miriam Diaby, founder of the group, to hear more about their story.

How did Nappys de Babi get started?

Nappys de Babi is a Facebook-based community. In the beginning, it was just a small group of four or five friends who wanted to share tips on natural hair, but it quickly increased to be a larger group, everyone began inviting friends and family. You only have to take a look at our take on the “Happy” video trend to see we are a group full of joy.

How do most women in Abidjan tend to wear their hair these days?

Truly, “nappy hair” has become something trendy for most of the girls joining the group. However, we can’t deny is that there are a lot of women who wanted to wear or are already wearing their natural hair secretly. Knowing our community gives them more self-confidence is a great thing.  We are assisting hair changes throughout the city. But, I will admit that most women in Abidjan still straighten their hair.

Where and when do you think the notion that straight hair is “better” originated? 

I think we are all are trying to find that moment when our mummies switched (unsuccessfully) from nappy hair to straight hair. I can’t answer this question, I don’t know.

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What kinds of natural hairstyles have become the most popular?

Definitely puffs, twists, flat twists – these are all very easy to do, contrary to the idea that “nappy” hair is more difficult to deal with.

What are some elements of a good natural hair routine?
If you are not complicated like me all you’ll need are a good conditioner, shampoo, coconut oil, shea butter, black soap, a self-made hair mask (depending on what your hair needs at the time), and water.

I would also advise that you should wear your hair in protective styles from time to time and maintain a regular routine in order to see benefits.

Any hair tips or secrets for our readers?

If you want to keep your hair smooth, never neglect hydration. Three or four times a week, spritz your hair with water and leave-in. It’s magic!

Check out other photos in their facebook albums.

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