When a friend asked blogger Mundia Situmbeko why she never wore her hair in its natural state, Mundia realised she didn’t know how to respond.
KICKIN’ IT WITH THE KINKS follows Mundia’s exploration of the history and established norms of afro-textured hair. We follow Mundia as she goes in search of answers. First, Mundia observes an informative discussion group by Afrocenchix. She later attends American ‘natural hair guru’ Felicia Leatherwood’s workshop and joins a heated debate at Manchester Metropolitan University’s student union.
These encounters open a dialogue on the role of history (and that of the media) in today’s perceptions of beauty and identity as well as the concept of ‘work appropriate’. As she explores the surrounding culture, Mundia learns the true extent to which women dedicate time, effort and money to styling their hair. After examining the realities of the ever-booming hair product and hair extension industries, Mundia comes to appreciate her natural beauty and waves goodbye to her weave.
KICKIN’ IT WITH THE KINKS originally began in October 2011 as a university project of Cynthia Butare’s. Having had no prior experience in filmmaking, she produced, filmed and edited the entire documentary by herself without any financial assistance whatsoever. She was elated when the documentary ended up winning a university award for best documentary. And it didn’t stop there. The first sign that KICKIN’ IT WITH THE KINKS was really something special came when the initial screening for 30 people in June 2012 quickly sold out – as did the subsequent one for 95 people at the Courthouse Doubletree Hotel’s cinema on Regent Street in London. A panel discussion followed that event, involving such remarkable women as Because I Wasn’t Worth It author Isabella Broekhuizen and Blackhair Magazine editor Keysha Davis (both of whom are interviewed in the film) as well as Sky News anchor Lukwesa Burak.
A special screening was held for the documentary’s first anniversary at the edgy Ritzy Cinema; then, the film went on to be screened at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge as part of the museum’s highly acclaimed Origins of the Afro Comb exhibition. The film was first screened with subtitles in June 2013 in Paris at Boucles d’Ebene. Glamorous fashion event Ethno-Tendance, with its focus on ethics, ethnicity and solidarity, specifically requested a screening of KICKIN’ IT WITH THE KINKS for its second event; then, in February 2014, the film formed part of Hamburg’s Black History Month celebrations – this time with German subtitles. There have now been 30 viewings across the UK, US, Canada, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Namibia, Nigeria, Zambia and Rwanda. With a steadily increasing global audience, the film continues to raise awareness about the complexities of hair care for women of African descent.