Went running today and i tried soooo hard not to stop! My lungs and calves were on fire and i had worked up a VORACIOUSSS appetite. Got home did some routine unwinding and washed my hair, which i do about 2 or three times a week, and moisturized it. I didn’t have anything “African” on me today so I was looking around and heeeey, whataya have?! —>
SHEA BUTTER or Beure de Karite as most Francophone people would refer to it. Now that my hair is natural it’s a great super moisturizer that kinda traps the moisture on your hair and keeps it *combable. “Combable” of course, no pun intended, being a relative term because my hair is verrry coarse. It hurts to comb it and if it’s too dry it becomes a painful dry brittle texture.
Back to the product, these shea butter tubs can be found in many if not all beauty supply stores. Mine is the yellow one which is a little more processed or finer than the white chunky rawer variety. Some people use both types to create their own moisturizers for their skin or hair since they are both unscented and have no chemicals. Shea butter is THE foundation of anything that’s really good for moisturizing your skin or hair.
Now, the label says, “AFRICAN SHEA BUTTER is made from the nut of the African Shea Tree, which grows throughout West Africa.” <— because African shea butter could possibly come from the shea tree of another continent since there are so many continental varieties -_- (sarcasm intended). Also that it “grows throughout West Africa” and (at the bottom) is a “Product of Ghana”.
Don’t get me wrong I am a fan of patronizing African products obviously and especially when they are of use to me. Not just because they are African – i would become a hoarder! I just have an issue with the over-exotification of something that can sell itself off its own merits in order to score a high price tag. Also, I get that this product is mostly produced and marketed for western/American exotic/conscious/tree-hugging/charitable consumptions. You’re helping a woman who owns her own small business and she has been able to buy land and employ some other people to do the same in her community yadi yada yada (in no way reducing the benefits of projects like these, just done heard it a lot) You educate a woman…… A woman with an income…..Empower her…… <– I am all for it!
What saddens me or what I have an issue with is the longterm growth potential of such enterprises. How much bigger and self-sufficient can that type of entrepreneurial endeavor get if it’s relying on a very small niche market all the way across the ocean where even if at an almost reasonable $10 for an 8oz tub, considering where it came from, that woman in Ghana certainly doesn’t get $10 back. We Africans are responsible for reducing the potential of our own by not patronizing our own. If the average “middle” class consumer looked in their backyard and bought this 8oz tub for even $3 – $5, a steal considering the benefits and environmentally friendly production processes, how much richer would this woman be?!
Cottage industries are great because of the opportunities they provide for the people invested in to create something out of almost nothing, but how much faster would growth and overall African self-sufficiency be if we looked not only to shea butter makers for our moisturizing supply and they, as producers, knew they could rely on us for the demand?!
I buy a product like this primarily for its utility to me, but also hoping and comforted by the possibility that it’s helping someone very far away from me. Acting locally and thinking globally. But what would be greater is the lady on the other end not even needing me. Or me needing her product more than she needs whatever fraction of the $10 i spent on her hard work she gets at the end of the day.
It’s really tough being in the diaspora sometimes.
Goodnight people ❤