Afrophobia and a culture of violence are costing us the Pan-African vision.
Three years ago, I frequented an African braiding salon in Brooklyn owned by a pair of savvy women from Guinea. I had moved to New York City a year prior to pursue a Master's degree, and with the knowledge that African hair salons anywhere in the world have the same lively atmosphere, I went looking for home. From the beginning, they were excited to meet a fellow African, and told me about the many family members who lived in my native South Africa. Their love for my country was clear. Our relationship became familial over time, and I came to view them as mother figures, le mamzo. They never charged me full price for my frequently-changing hairstyles, instead accepting whatever I could afford. They were proud of me as a young African woman pursuing her graduate studies abroad, and would ask about my grades and progress. There was always a sense that I was one of them, a fellow child of Africa.