Shea Butter and I – written by Ozioma Dede-Konkwo

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Africa as a continent has all through the ages been able to explore and extensively produce nature’s gift to them. As a people on the African Continent, our pride is in our strong and able bodied men and women who will not relent until they have planted their crops, harvested and also produced useful goods from these crops. Continents aside Africa have benefited immensely from our God given abilities and resources.

I am proud to be African. This may sound like a cliche but for personal and apparent reasons, it is a statement of practical truth.

Growing up, I had all I wanted (althoug I wasn’t a spoilt child). I am grateful to my parents who made my siblings and I well rooted in our culture by taking us to the village each holiday, be it mid-term break, long holiday, Christmas celebrations etc. As kids, we enjoyed cooking in the firewood out of empty tins of tomatoes, built gigantic houses with sand (I still wonder how we did that), we would crack palm kernels and watch Grandma manufacture body cream with the oil extracted from the palm kernels called ‘Udaku’ in my local dialet. We played, sang and organised some local dance competitions. Sometimes we played roughly and complained of joint pains. Grandma would massage our bodies with an off white cream that looked like butter. We loved the soothing relief afterwards. I watched her apply that same cream on her hair after she had washed it, and I wondered how a cream used for body pains would also be used on the hair. Out of curiousity, I asked her the name and she said it is called ‘Shea Butter’ also known as ‘Ori’ in my local dialet.

My love for this wonderful cream was re-ignited some months ago when I watched with fascination a documentary on Ebony Life Tv (EL Tv) about the origin of shea butter and how it is manufactured.
I learnt that ‘Shea Butter’ is found in the tropics of Africa and it is extracted from the nuts of the Shea Karite tree. I watched how the women picked the nuts, cracked them, grilled and pounded them until the shea butter rose to its surface. It was then scooped into gourds to cool and set. It also went through a series of additional processes before it finally became ready for use or sale.

As a naturalist, shea butter has been my hair messiah. This is because it sits into my strong and dense hair and leaves it naturally conditioned, moistured and silky. It makes it easy for me to either braid my hair in long twists or style it nicely, the way I want. Shea butter also improves the health of my hair follicles and improves their ability to generate new hair, making it noticeably radiant.
So what more can I ask for? It feels good that I use a natural hair product that I trust can deliver just the way I want.

Note: Shea Butter is sold in supermarkets in Africa and it is currently being exported to almost every part of the world.

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