• RCS Ottawa

A pop-up hair salon from Uganda treats black hair as a science and an art

Whenever Kampire Bahana, a Ugandan writer and DJ, walks into a salon the experience is the same. “They ask me what I’ve been doing with my hair, and no matter whether my hair is in braids or what, they tell me what I’m doing is wrong.”

Bahana and three of her friends are working to negate experiences like this in their pop-up salon and art installation focused on black hair, Salooni, named after what hair salons are called in Uganda. “Most women battle with their hair because all of us live in a society that profits from our insecurities,” she says. “For black women, the extra layer is our interaction with colonialism in Africa and generally trying to achieve a standard of beauty, which is white and completely unobtainable.”

At Salooni, visitors have their hair done for free by professional stylists. They can get a massage, play with other people’s hair, or browse the photographs, video, and performances that are part of Salooni’s growing collection of research and art celebrating black hair. The stylists and visitors discuss things like braiding tips for keeping one’s hair moist.


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