Uganda's President Museveni Tells Miss World Africa She Shouldn't Wear 'Indian Hair'—Twitter Reacts
"I have encouraged her to keep her natural, African hair," said the president—but who asked?
Miss Uganda, Quinn Abenakyo, made her country proud earlier this month when she was crowned Miss World Africa during the Miss World Finals in China.
Following her win, the 22-year-old beauty queen was welcomed by President Yoweri Museveni on Wednesday at the State House in Entebbe, where he congratulated Abenakyo, saying "she is the true definition of beauty and brains."
But because simply congratulating her on her achievement wasn't enough, the 74-year-old leader decided to take to Twitter to offer his unsolicited "advice" on how the beauty queen should wear her hair.
"Abenakyo is indeed a tall, beautiful Musoga girl," he wrote. "My only concern is that she was wearing Indian hair. I have encouraged her to keep her natural, African hair. We must show African beauty in its natural form."
Abenakyo is indeed a tall, beautiful Musoga girl. My only concern is that she was wearing Indian hair. I have encou… https://t.co/3S8vG8Jbf7— Yoweri K Museveni (@Yoweri K Museveni)1545242312.0
If you're wondering who made Museveni and expert on black women's hair and beauty, or who asked for his views on Abenakyo's—the answer is no one. But the president is known for touting his unwarranted opinions on a regular basis.
Museveini's spokesperson Don Wanyama, attempted to clarify his statement about the beauty queen's "Indian" hair, and what he meant by his brash comments, telling BBC Africa: "Just look at the photo and you will see the type of hair. It's an unnatural wig, he was saying she should wear her natural hair."
Museveni is clearly out of place offering any opinion concerning positive representations of Africa, and especially sharing his two cents on how a woman chooses to carry herself.
Many online used the opportunity to take their own jabs at the hairless president.
@KagutaMuseveni But u don't have African hair!— uthuman (@uthuman)1545243223.0
The comments reopen a conversation around definitions of "African beauty," the policing of women's bodies—and why men continuously feel they have the right to do it—as well as the ways in which Eurocentric beauty standards affect women on the continent.
While the embracing of natural hair is undeniably beautiful and important, Abenakyo's decision to wear her hair otherwise, according to many of the best thinkers on the subject, does not take away from that, and it doesn't simply equate to a rejection of African beauty either. Black women's hair is versatile and choosing to wear our hair how we please—whether that be in braids, locs, weaves, wigs or afros—is an expression of our unique blackness in and of itself.
The beauty queen told BBC Africa, that for her its a matter of choice. And while she agreed with Museveni about "not trying to copy what the Western world does," the style in which she wears her hair is "50/50...depending on occasion and how I feel."
"No-one needs to define how you wear your hair and what you do," she added. "If you are comfortable, that is what matters."
While some agreed with Museveni, many Ugandans took to Twitter to defend Abenakyo and lambast the president:
@KagutaMuseveni Imagine https://t.co/DGwm3xpGSo— issah kb🗯 (@issah kb🗯)1545242741.0
@KagutaMuseveni I wish u know how this young lady troubled to reach China where she represented our country without… https://t.co/qt2qsSDvyJ— Bashir Khamis (@Bashir Khamis)1545243628.0
@ntrlvincent @KagutaMuseveni How did you know that https://t.co/bUcpEcEv3l— Rissy Sandra 😂 (@Rissy Sandra 😂)1545288530.0
@KagutaMuseveni But why aren’t you keeping your natural hair Mr. President so that you can as well promote the natu… https://t.co/zRnLH1H4K7— Micheal Bolton Ayebs (@Micheal Bolton Ayebs)1545243873.0
@KagutaMuseveni It would be good also master president if you respect Uganda Constitution and term limit which is a… https://t.co/o0wn0hA4Dd— Francis M. Malwal 🇸🇸 (@Francis M. Malwal 🇸🇸)1545292730.0
@joshua01ivan @KagutaMuseveni While at that, how about we ditch these western clothes and wear skin or nothing at a… https://t.co/ICJYnN6cjL— Wanjiru Kahiu (@Wanjiru Kahiu)1545300895.0
@KagutaMuseveni The girl - is fine she can wear indian hair if she wants its her head isnt it, doesnt take away her beauty— Cazawaty (@Cazawaty)1545271399.0