“Nos ta un komunidat ku ta aseptá, apresiá i identifiká ku nos kabei. Huntu nos ta ekspresá nos orguyo, kompartí nos konosementu, konsehá otro i apoyá kuido di kabei salú.”
“Our community accepts, appreciates and identifies with our (coarse) hair. We express our pride, share our knowledge, provide tips and encourage healthy haircare.”
A curly-wavy hair gal myself, I’ve long struggled to accept my natural texture. Chemically relaxing in adolescence and paying top dollar for formaldehyde-filled Brazilian Blowouts, stinky Keratin treatments. When money’s tight, I’m a slave to my flat iron. (Come on, I’m sure some of you can relate!) Anyway, I’ve been admiring Kabei Duru on Facebook for a few months now… picking up helpful tips and ogling beautiful big-haired women and men who seem to accept – and dare I say – love! – their natural texture.And their message is spreading like social media wildfire… they’ve accumulated over 1,800 Facebook Likes in 3 short months!
Last week I had the pleasure of connecting with the fabulous Chearitée Roosje, co-founder of Kabei Duru. Chearitée is based in Diemen (Holland) and launched the inspirational community together with Maria and Nazjirah (both based in Curaçao) in July 2012.
1000 ATAC: What inspired you to launch Kabei Duru?
We just started talking about our natural hair, you know, among friends. Walking in Otrobanda and Punda, we would get many compliments on our hair. But having natural hair isn’t always easy. And we know other women struggle too. Some of us had been natural, then relaxed, then natural again while others had been natural for their entire lives. At some point we realized that being “natural sisters” was the most exciting way to care for our hair. We started motivating each other, sharing tips and tricks, admiring each others’ natural hairstyles. Then we noticed that there aren’t many sites helping and empowering natural girls in Holland and Curaçao, so we decided to create a Facebook page, to support and empower our natural sisters — that way we can all share our knowledge and hair journey.
1000 ATAC: Did you experience any surprises along the way?
We never expected the page to get so many “Likes”! Many people “like” our content; many actively participate in posts. The amount of people who are “natural”, want to go “natural” or have “natural” hair children is overwhelming.
Unfortunately, we also faced some criticism around our name. “Kabei Duru” (literally, “hard hair”) is said to have originated during slavery. It refers to the slave’s hair that resembled sheeps’ wool… as opposed to the master’s fine hair. Some people still feel sensitive about the name, despite the fact that most people (still) refer to our hair type as “Kabei Duru”.
We have chosen to keep the name (so far) to show that a name does not make our hair type less acceptable or less beautiful. We’re glad that our fans embrace the beauty and positivism of our content; (that) seems to have diminished the negative connotations around our name.
1000 ATAC: What’s your long-term vision for Kabei Duru?
We hope to become the go-to organization for a large group of natural hair lovers. We’d like to be able to provide fans with quality information about hair care and healthy nutrition. We’d like to encourage positive perspective and build self-esteem. We’d like to expand to other languages and create a community for men and women with natural hair.
1000 ATAC: Why do you post in Papiamentu? Not, say, English?
In order to find info about our hair type we each had to go through countless websites and YouTube videos to understand certain natural hair terms. There are quite a few interesting websites on the subject, most of them in English.
We often talk to people with natural hair… and we’re amazed by our knowledge and shared childhood memories of being teased about our hair. Looking down on coarse hair — and people with coarse hair — seemed to be part of our culture. We wish we had had the confidence and appreciation for our natural self (we have now), back then.
We think the best way to help others in similar situations (who are ashamed of their natural hair) is by writing about everything we know in a way and language that they can relate to. In our own language — Papiamentu. That way we all identify with shared struggles — inform and create pride within our community.
As it turns out we have a lot of Dutch speaking fans as well. In the future we might post in both Papiamentu and Dutch.
1000 ATAC: What’s your favorite and most useful hair trick?
Chearitée: I love to co-wash and go. It’s a method I’ve been using ever since I went natural, even before I knew the actual name for it. All you do is wash your hair with your favorite conditioner, shake off the excess water or dab it dry and you’re ready to go.
Maria: I untangle my hair when wet. I used to untangle my dry hair, and man! did it break… and it left me with a sore arm from all the pulling. But slightly wetting my hair, just enough to get it damp, makes all the difference in the world.
Nazjirah: I spray my hair with water to keep it hydrated and moisturized. I’ve learned that no leave-in conditioner, moisturizer or any other product could ever mimic or replace H2O.
1000 ATAC: What are some of your goals in life?
Chearitée: I’d like to get my bachelor’s degree in Information Technology and further develop skills in communications and advertising to expand “Kabei Duru”.
Maria: I aspire to become a certified beautician and start a natural haircare salon for young and old.
Nazjirah: I’d like to get a law degree!
1000 ATAC: Who do you admire most?
Chearitée: This might sound corny but I’d have to say my parents. They are my main source of inspiration. My mom nurtured my creativity and taught me how to be resourceful. My dad taught me to reason, analyze and strategize. Without these fundamental skills Kabei Duru would not exist.
Maria: The person I admire most right now is my best friend, Chearitée Roosje. She’s the most intelligent, reliable, hardworking and motivated friend I have ever had. I admire her because she is an overall good person and because no matter what she goes through she comes out with 2 feet on the ground.
Nazjirah: Naptural85 on YouTube. She’s a girl who’s frequently trying out new hairstyles and products on her natural hair. She talks not only about hair but also about life to persevere and follow your dreams.