Given my own recent journey with my hair, I was beyond excited to find out about the Africa International Hair Extravaganza (AIHE) that happened at the Coca Cola Dome this past weekend. I quickly diarised it and made my way down there on Saturday afternoon (11th August 2012) with the highest expectations.
Advertised as the “first hair extravaganza to be held on the African continent” this initiative was led by Rudisha Consulting Group who teamed up with Drum Magazine as media partner. The event promised exhibitors from both the hair and beauty industries across the African continent including countries like Angola, Zambia and Nigeria. As I read the ad I was totally sold and all I could think in my mind was “about freaking time!!!!”
I made my way to Computicket on Saturday I was shocked to find out that the event cost R220. R220!!! I made the Checkers cashier recheck and she grunted R220 at me again. I actually considered abandoning the idea right there and then but having queued for over 20 minutes I decided to go anyway – it must be REALLY good I told myself, at this price!
As I drove closer to The Dome it was so quiet that I quickly reached for my ticket to see if I got the date right. Yup, Saturday 11th August. As soon as I stepped inside The Dome I could tell it was going to be bad. Less than half of the space in The Dome was actually being used and even within the space that was used, the stalls were so sparsely scattered that it looked like they were trying to fill up the space.
There was a hair competition happening on stage when I arrived so I ducked and made my way to a seat. I’m not sure who won or what the prize was as I got up to leave unentertained (yes I just made that word up!) a few minutes later.
I walked around the stalls and NOTHING grabbed me. It was the usual array of mass produced retail brands, some you’ll know some you rather wouldn’t like to know – like Nonhle Themba who had a stand selling her own brand of weaves and perfume. I kid you not.
Drum Hair, an annual magazine was also on sale an attendant excitedly told me. The RSP was around R36 but it was going for R40 and then included a free make over. I peered at the makeovers happening behind her and seeing the no name brand cosmetics strewn all over the floor I decided to stick with the makeup I arrived with, thanks.
Sophie Ndaba and few others were there for photo opportunities, but this event really couldn’t be saved. I really didn’t know what to expect but this certainly wasn’t it. While I realize it was the first event of its kind (although someone mentioned there was a similar event in Soweto earlier this year but I was told it was equally mediocre) that isn’t even a reasonable excuse.
There was no offering for natural hair. If you have a weave, you may have enjoyed it a bit more than me. A bit. Where was Mizani, Moroccan Oil, et al? They obviously got the memo on how bad this would be.
Then there’s the goodie bag. Basically it was filled with the same mediocrity of the day. But hey, at least it was filled – which is more than I can say for the turn out at the Dome – both visitor and exhibitors alike. Flora (my helper at home) seemed very pleased when I handed the goodie bag over to her on Monday. Anele once said some goodie bags should just be called, well, bags.
It was a sad day for Black hair. I left feeling robbed. Really. So anyway all I have to say, Drum is when can I expect a refund?