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‘Relaxers linked to about 90% of fibroid in African women’

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Adanna Ifeoma Enwezor, Managing Director of Photizo Life Foundation and founder of African Hair Summit, holds a BSc in Sociology from the University of Abuja and MA in Global Development and Africa from the University of Leeds, United Kingdom. In this interview with TAYO GESINDE, she speaks about the need for women to embrace healthy alternatives to toxic beauty products that are sold in the markets.

What informed your choice of career?

I have always had passion for community developments, social developments as well as woman empowerment. I have over ten years of experience working with youths, children and women on social development and mental health through different Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). It is not surprising that  I am doing what I am doing now, that is; creating a platform to empower people to ensure that they attain a level of development as a people and their well being.

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You are the MD OF Photizo Life Foundation, what is the foundation all about?

It is an international NGO that is committed to ensuring the mental and social well being of people. We do this through our different projects like the African Hair Summit, Community Outreach programme and the upcoming expo fair.


Why is your focus on the hair?

Hair has a lot to do with our health, well being and our state of mind as human beings. What initiated this project was that  I got severe burn from relaxers and I had this sore on my head. So, I decided to carry out a research to find out  what was in the relaxer and why it was so toxic and why everybody was getting burnt. I found out that there were lots of illnesses linked to black hair and the beauty industry. I  found out that relaxer has been linked with about 90 per cent of fibroid in African women. I  also learnt that cancer, infertility, hair loss, just to mention a few, were linked to it. So, I started a hair summit where I let people know there are lots of dangers in what they put in their hair and skin so that they can  be more sensitive to the kind of products they buy, while also embracing organic healthy product like cocoa oil, shea butter and so on. All these are healthy alternatives to  the toxic beauty products that are sold in the markets.


So, what you do at the hair summit is to discourage people from using relaxers and encourage them to embrace organic hair products?

We are not discouraging anybody. What we are doing is to raise awareness about the type of chemicals in hair and beauty products and we are promoting the beauty in the African natural hair. We are also encouraging the local manufacturers of these products. We are promoting the African natural hair because we understand that a lot of Africans have lost their identities. A lot of Africans have not fully come into themselves so they  are comfortable being someone else either by wearing wigs or someone else’s hair (Brazilian, Peruvian, and so on) or putting relaxers on their hair to change the way their hair look. So, until we begin to embrace our true identity as Africans, it is going to be very hard for people out there to know us.


Since you started Photizo Life Foundation, how far have you gone?

The foundation has grown in leaps and bound since it started in 2016, just a few months before I launched the African Hair Summit. When we came up with the idea, people were looking at me that what is she saying? So it was difficult to break through and get support of sponsors or partners. It was when we launched the project that people started understanding what we were trying to do. To gather people together all because of hair and beauty, and doing a lot of events round it showed that  there was a lot to talk about. We have been able to do a lot through our platform and it has gotten us international recognition from big media organisations like BBC, Aljazera and so on. It shows that our work is being recognised and acknowledged internationally.

Advice for young people?

My advice  for young people is that they should do something productive. The time they have now, they won’t always have it and they don’t want to get to a point where  you look back with regret. You have to get rid of distraction and pay attention to the things you have been called to do. That is; what God brought you here to do. Find out and key in to it, before it is too late.

Find something to do. I am tired of people talking about there is no work, there is no job, create something, you have what it takes.  I think we are now so loud. Everybody is making a lot of noise on the social media, doing nothing.  The world is changing, if we are not careful, we will not be part of everything that is going to happen because we cannot key into those things. Instead doing something productive, everybody is posting pictures on social media, commenting on celebrities post. What were the challenges you faced when you started?

The major challenge is when you have people going in a certain direction, it is difficult to get them to turn around and go in a different direction. Again, getting people to understand that the hair summit is not just for women, it is also for men. It affects everybody because your wife could be using these products that are causing cancer. So, we love it when we see men on the platform.  Getting people to throw their weight behind the project is another issue.  It is coming up gradually. We are looking forward to having more sponsors from government and private sectors.

What plans do you have for the Hair Summit this year?

Last year’s summit was successful. We had a huge turn-out. People came from all over the world  and it was very impactful. We saw the zeal and the government organisations that were represented there NEPC, SON, had all pledged to work with us. It shows that there is hope for growing natural hair and beauty industry here in Nigeria. Right now, we are working on the success of 2018 o make it an even bigger success story. We have a lot of businesses that have started working with us. We also want to begin to see how we can prepare our local products and make them export ready.  We are also working with NEPC and some new organisations this year. African Hair Summit is here to promote healthy lifestyle choices and to promote business opportunities in the hair and beauty industry. It will reduce poverty and unemployment to a great extent. It will put African in the map in the nearest future.

The post ‘Relaxers linked to about 90% of fibroid in African women’ appeared first on Tribune Online.

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