Afro Fest is an annual 2-day festival that happens the first weekend in July in Toronto. It has been held annually since 1989, and is a showcase of a rich and diverse African culture. With a bustling marketplace (natural products, oils, butters, books, jewellery, clothing, the list goes on), food and craft vendors, artistic displays, a drum stage, musical performances, comedy, showcases, ‘fros, dreads, and more ‘fros! It is simply beautiful! I tell you, us Naturalistas are a different kind of people, and I love the kind of people that Afro Fest tends to bring out. The vibe is always live, positive, and inspiring. Many naturalistas come out with various beautifully styled ‘fros and dreadlocks. I love seeing it all. I remember when I went last year, when I was still transitioning to being fully natural, saying to myself, “next Afro Fest, I’m going to have my afro and rock it!” Well…so said so done! The day of, I braided my hair in about 6-8 braids with some hair lotion, let it sit for just under 2 hours, took it out and it was looking nice. Problem? I made the mistake of driving with the window down, so one side of my hair got blown out…by the time I actually got down there, with all of that humidity, the rest of my hair decided to follow suit. I tell you, my hair has a mind of her own! If I were anywhere else, I would have probably ran to the nearest washroom, grabbed a hair tie and just tie it back in one, but today, I didn’t care one bit. It was big and all over the place, but I thought it looked kinda funky, and like I said, there were soooo many other beautiful ‘fros out on display that I just felt as if I was at home. So I rocked it, and actually got a number of compliments (most from males though…sooo…I don’t know…). But I must say, regardless of whether he’s complimenting your hair just because he wants to have something to say, or if he genuinely likes your hair, it does feel damn good. We’re so programmed into thinking that our hair in it’s natural state isn’t ‘beautiful’, and although a number of us have been able to cut off those mental chains of thinking, many still can’t. So it’s nice when we get that compliment from our black brothers about our hair.
I know that as I was growing up, there were not many naturalistas out there, showing off their hair, walking confidently with their blessings from above. I love the fact that now, young men and women can see that. I love the fact that at Afro Fest, relaxers, weaves and wigs, for once, are the minority of what is on a black woman’s head. Instead, so many gorgeous black women are crowned with their curly, coily, kinky gifts, styled a multitude of ways, shouting out to each other, and to our younger observers, “I am beautiful, just the way I am.” Sometimes the most powerful action, is just rocking your crown with confidence. When we do that, it is as if we give others the permission to do the same. Keep the crown confidence going, beauties!
P.S. Sorry that I don’t have any pictures! There were a number of photographers on site, so I’m sure if you Google or Facebook “Toronto AfroFest” you’ll find some of what I speak of. For more information on Afro Fest, feel free to visit afrofest.ca