Ugandan Creatives Explore Politics Woven Through Black Hair In Salooni Project

More platforms for Black Women's hair keep emerging and we are so here for it. This means the more spaces we have catered for black hair, the more opportunities to learn about our crowns.

The latest on our radar is the Salooni Project, a pop up hair salon and art installation that looks into the politics woven through black hair. The project was created by a team of four Ugandan women; Aida Mbowa, Darlyne Komukama, Gloria Wavamunno and Kampire Bahana.

Salooni is a multidisciplinary art project that posits Black hair practices as systems of knowledge through which culture and survivalist strategies are passed from generation to generation.
The project looks deeply into questions relating to practices of self-care and love have been replicated and shared by Black girls and women in the styling and braiding of their hair, the collective and individual traumas have they endured and perpetuated as a result of rejection from western hegemonic cultures, and in their own attempts to conform and survive a world in which beauty standards are dictated by Caucasian culture.

The project depicts black hair through mediums of short film, live art performances, theatre and photography, and presents the ways in which historical memory and ways of being are weaved into the nap of black peoples’ hair.

The women behind Salooni L-R Kampire Bahana, Gloria Wavamunno, Aida Mbowa and Darlyne Komukama 

In a video documented by Nzinga Effect, Gloria Wavamunno says, "We're relating on the subject that we are all trying to identify who we are, and that hair is part of that identification but then also what is your real relationship with your hair. I think that one thing that can tie everyone together is that everybody does have a story and a relationship with the their hair so definitely I'm here with my own story."

As their mission to explore different communities through the medium of hair continues, they emphasize that it is important for them to ensure that the space is familiar to the audience in attendance. They wanted it to look like a salon that you would go in like whatever place you're in.
They don't want it to be a place that you have to perform some sort of identity in; you just come and be yourself, whatever that is.

To date, the Salooni Project has featured at festivals such as  La Ba Arts Festival, Chale Wote Street Art Festival in Ghana, Nyege Nyege International Music Festival and East African Soul Train (E.A.S.T) residency.

In 2017, the British Council awarded Salooni the new Art new Audiences grant. The project was in collaboration with Art House, an initiative in Rwanda connecting artists and creatives within the region & beyond to collaborate.

Their work can be found HERE.

Sources: The British Council/The Salooni/Nzinga Effect

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