Natural in …SURINAME

Natural in ...Suriname

Naomi Bonté, Economist working in the banking sectorand a licensed dance minister.

My name is Naomi Bonté. I’m an Economist and I work in the banking sector. I’m a licensed dance minister. I teach children, teens, and young adults, liturgical dance. I also like to embroider and to crochet and I like to study languages. I speak Dutch, English, Spanish, basic French, and basic Chinese.  I’m glad more people are aware of their beautiful hair, a blessing from the Lord. As a human being you need to embrace your hair, take care of it and you will see the growth. Teach a child, when he’s young, that what the Lord has blessed him with, is the best.

As a 35-year-old naturalist, I have been natural all my life. One of the reasons I have never permed my hair, is because I was able to do braids at a very young age. At the age of seven I was able to do braids for others. At the Secondary School (12-16 years old), I used to comb my own hair. Braiding became one of my hobbies. During that time, I spent my Sunday afternoons braiding hair for five to six girls, all for free. I was already promoting the braiding of natural hair. I only braided natural hair, no extensions.

At a young age I knew I would never perm my hair. Another reason, is that many of the people that I saw with permed hair, often complained of having damaged hair after a while. 

My eldest sister has also been an inspiration to me, by not perming. As such, her hair was able to flourish and grow extremely long. As usual, I’m the one who always braids for my three sisters. I also enjoy braiding my own hair.

Over the past ten to fifteen years most people in my country became more aware of their natural hair. They have learned to embrace their coils. Some of the Facebook pages in Suriname that encourage naturals are “Natural Candies” and “Kroeshaar and zo”. My hairdresser from Precious Touch Hair Salon, is also an inspiration for many people in Suriname. Nowadays, she has quarantine talks on Facebook, where she explains different topics about natural hair. She is the only trichologist in Suriname. She is my number one adviser. Furthermore, I also follow various YouTubers from Suriname, the Netherlands, UK, and USA for tips and natural hairstyles.

I’ve never experienced discrimination because of my natural hair

Moreover, I’ve never experienced discrimination because of my natural hair. While I was studying in China, people often tried to touch my natural hair. Suriname, a Dutch speaking country in South America has a population of about half a million. It has a multi-ethnic population from whose ancestors came from Africa, China, India, and Indonesia. The original inhabitants are the Amerindians. Together the black people (Maroons and Creole) make up about 37 percent of the population (the biggest ethnic group). It means that Surinamese are aware of natural hair. Some of the offspring from the enslaved Africans who escaped to the interior, are called Maroons.

The last ten years I’ve seen more self-love and self-care for the natural hair amongst the black people in my country. There are several natural hair salons, even for children. This year, it was planned to have a natural hair fair, but because of covid-19, it has been canceled. Furthermore, a natural hair beauty contest was held in 2017. The natural hair community embraces the natural hair, and gradually we see that many people are following this group. In offices, our Parliament, journalists, etcetera, are proud of their natural hair. Even people with straight hair like the natural hair and usually give compliments to naturals.

As a naturalist, I was only using grease for my hair. I was not using conditioner, oils and creams for my hair. However, over the last 8 years I’ve learned to use products based on my low hair porosity; do different treatments such as vitamin and protein. I’ve gained this new knowledge from visits to the natural hair salon and from YouTubers who provide valuable information on how to properly care for your hair. My hair had never passed my shoulder. However, since developing a good hair regime, it has passed the middle of my back.

I believe that the natural hair community will become bigger in Suriname, because we have enough knowledge about natural hair care. Also, many Surinamese are making their own natural hair products. The market is full of good products. Without knowledge and understanding, it is impossible to make and use the right products.

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