George Lazois is originally from Santi Gron. After his studies in the Netherlands, he returned to Suriname. He now owns Arinze Tours and Madeira Enterprise. The latter is a company specialized in wood carving.
He used to think negatively about frizzy hair, which has now changed positively. Read on to find out how that came about.
You have participated in the Carifesta expo, it seems quite difficult to make a selection of wood carvings. Which one did you choose and why?
We can do carvings on anything and we had to make a selection of items that were easy to carry. Of course, we also select those pieces that we believe will interest and appeal to people.
Has that knowledge been lost?
Knowledge about this is indeed in danger of being lost if we do nothing structurally. And by we, I don't just mean the people of Santigron, but the entire black community.
I also have this experience with the traditional dances of Santigron. Awasa was only danced by old men and women 15 years ago, but since I started Arinze Tours, I organize tours to the village and people are paid to perform for the tourists. Since then, attention has returned to Awasa. As a result, 85% of the young children dance, sing the accompanying songs and learn to communicate with the drum. Building in an earning capacity actually makes people want to invest their time and energy in it. Otherwise it will remain in the sphere of tradition, cultural, folklore, etc. My vision and commitment are therefore aimed at earning money to guarantee training (education), health care, etc. for the domestic population.
Is there a specific hairstyle that has stuck with you, that you find very beautiful or unusual? Can you describe it?
I still think one is very beautiful and that is braiding from a point in the middle of the head to the ends. All the way around the head in circles. Another is to first braid plugs of hair and then slide them into the braided hair and that again looks like a bush.
What did you think of that relaxed hair when it was all the rage? And now?
I didn't like that, but before that there was something else, namely pressing, burning the curls out with a hot iron comb, so that no curls could be seen anymore. Sometimes the scalp was also burned and then you could see the empty bald spots on the head. In most cases it smelled awful. And so did the young ladies in our village who had gone to town for education. That was the “image” of the students. So the teachers, nurses, etc.
Was, has this changed now?
It's kind of changing, but we want it to be more natural because, natural and fun, fashionable, maybe I can call it sexy.
About 90% of black women in the Netherlands are relaxed. How is the ratio between natural and relaxed hair now on Santi Gron?
Due to the economic downturn, these women do not have the financial means to keep up with all (fashion trends) and to participate. So in Santigron it is still a ratio of about 50%. Especially the older women do not participate. And the braiding is easy, because you can do it yourself.
Why are the women and girls going back to the original hairstyles right now? Is it a fad or a conscious move?
It is fashion and from time to time it will come back again. A bit of black awareness also plays a role. Young girls mirror themselves to the role models who consciously walk around with frizzy hair. For some it is therefore a conscious step and there are people who are convinced that the frizzy hair is very beautiful.
Have you ever tried curly or relax yourself? If so, how did you like it, if not why not?
Never did. It would cost me too much time, money. Besides, I didn't like it. And it also makes your clothes dirty and filthy.
Do you think there is a connection between self-image and frizzy hair? Could you describe it?
We must not forget that it is also a matter of fashion. My ex-wife in Holland (white woman) also regularly had permanent hair. And sometimes braids because she thought it was beautiful. But in some cases it is clear that one does not want to associate with the black race. Not with the language, place of birth, etc. Some don't want to be associated with that.
How did you used to think about frizzy hair and has your view changed over the years?
Negative and it has now changed for the better. By becoming aware and especially misunderstanding by others. Believe in yourself and believe in the group you belong to. For me it has not only to do with the hair but also with the other things in our culture.
You are what you are. But the white people and others who are a little bit white were always trying to tell us that you have to be different. For example, we did not dare to speak the Saramaka language, because otherwise children would laugh at us at school. So the moment you stand up for your own things, there are others who try to drive you into the ground. By being derogatory about it.
I hear from many women that they relax because men wouldn't look at them otherwise? What do you think of this statement, is it true?
Women often do things to please men. Sometimes, especially in puberty, it can play an important role. They want to belong to a group. And that sometimes comes at the expense of one's own identity. I don't blame them, but they do need to be taught that they also have unique things that others in the group don't have that they can be proud of.
Sometimes you look at a woman/man and they don't look at you while someone else looks at you very much and you don't think about it. There are other guys who do look at girls who do have and wear frizzy hair. For example, I thought a girl at the Wulfing School was so beautiful because she was so natural. Really honestly beautiful, everything she had was her own. Her clothes, little or no make-up and she was also very intelligent. Those are important qualities and such a person does not have to do anything to gain favor with a man, I think.
What kind of hair does your girlfriend/wife have?
Kroes, she does all sorts of things with her hair. Always looking for something nice apart and unique. I prefer to encourage her to keep her hair as natural as possible.
What do you think of the website kroeshaar.com? Do you have any suggestions or recommendations?
I never thought there would be so much interest in it. At the Sab-I-Wiri Dei there were a lot of people present, I understand. I also think it's a good thing that you can get information about this via the internet. My two daughters in Holland have frizzy hair, their curls are slightly bigger, but they just have frizzy hair. It is of course a godsend for such people. Because they don't know what you can do with the hair. Simply because they never saw it the way my grandmother, great-nieces and aunts did when their hair did. I will therefore warmly recommend the book and the site to them.