The Blonde Experience: How far will you go for charity?



The numbers sat there contentedly, with an air that reeked of permanence. They worried me. The fact that they sat there so comfortably, filled me with dread. I didn’t expect a lot, but I expected more. I have always expected more. I’m not one to set my sights on lofty goals, and spend my days and nights working till they are accomplished. I set paltry ones that are quite easily accomplished, and at the moment of their completion I utter one word, “more”. It’s a heavy word. More is never satisfied or cool, calm and collected, more is hungry, lustful, and greedy. So even though the numbers sat at £300, five times greater than my initial goal, the only word I could think to say was “more”.

I stared at my laptop screen with a look of such concentration that if you had seen me, you would have thought me capable of increasing the figure with my mind. However, the numbers, like my bank account, were immune to my mental persuasions. Without donations, they would be stuck there forever. That was something I didn’t want to consider. I wasn’t fund raising for pandas or dolphins. Raising money for a charity that you are almost completely disconnected from cannot possibly inspire the same sense of urgency that fundraising for a charity that fires a missile straight into the centre of your life does.  

On the 29th of January, at 2:55pm, my friend, Emeka Mbakwe, ventured into the land that no man has seen, but all have heard of. We expected that he would make the journey. He had been terminal for a few months, but we still thought it possible that by some stroke of luck or divine intervention he would pull through. He was only twenty and two. I hadn’t considered that we had grown old enough to die, not from cancer. Before he died he went sailing with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer trust. I always imagined that he would captain a yacht some day. He had the build for it. Everything he did was coloured with an ease that sailors seem to share. And even if you didn’t know this about him, his full, scruffy beard corrected your ignorance.

I looked at my fundraising page on justgiving.co.uk and wondered what I could do to raise money and awareness, for the The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust really is a fantastic charity. The trips provide an invaluable escape from the hospitals and the chemotherapy. As an occasional sailor, no one can attest to the healing powers of the British sea side better than I. It was then that it occurred to me that I could sell my hair. Without any hesitation I posted the following message on my facebook and twitter accounts.

“If the lot of you contribute £150 more to my fund raising effort, I will do whatever it is the bulk of you want to my hair. I will shave it, dye it, bleach it, or plait it. This isn’t restricted to the hair on my head, but I beg restraint. If you’ve ever wondered what I would look like blonde, or ginger, or with a Balotelli style Mohawk, you know what to do.”

I have no words. Should I ever get a proper job, I will delete the blog. There's far too much evidence of my idiocy on the internet. 


I imagine that my friends thought it more than a little bit silly, but as with most silly things they thought it interesting enough to talk about. There was this question about my sincerity to the pledge, since they had no guarantee that I would be true to my word, but it kick started the broken down engine of my campaign. The money rolled in, with some chipping in as little as a pound just to have a say in what it was that I should do to my locks. I achieved my goal about five days after I put the word out. The vast majority just wanted me blonde, but I decided that it would be very peculiar if I sported a yellow head and a very black scruffy beard, so I bleached that too. At the end of it I was vaguely reminiscent of a lion. Truth be told I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror after I did it and it didn’t look as terrible as I thought it would before hand. It didn’t look bad at all. The only thing that changed was that I suddenly felt inclined to walk straight to a music studio to record the song of the summer. It didn’t feel right that I was walking to Politics lectures with my hair the colour of dry wheat field. I’d previously thought that blondeness was restricted to musicians and footballers and not the more conventional among us. With my new mop of hair, I was a conversation starter and a commander of attention. The conversations I started, and the attention I commanded may not have been entirely positive, but for the most part I didn’t care. I had a cause. I didn’t just randomly wake up in the morning and decide that the colour granted to me by genetics was wholly unsuitable for my current existence. And even if I had, I didn’t see what that had to do with anyone.

After performing my charity event, a 55 mile walk around Manchester, I made my way to London for the weekend. My aunt was turning fifty, and I thought it the perfect opportunity to provide my donors with the chance to see my blondeness in person. Upon my arrival in London, my mum looked at me with a look that showed me that a parent’s true role is to endure the dalliances of their children and said, “When are you cutting it?” I laughed the question away, because I quite liked the new look. My aunt’s fiftieth displayed more of the same grudging acceptance, until one of the guests decided to needle me in the way only a Nigerian parent can. I was making the greeting rounds when he gestured to a friend of his and said, “it is obvious that this one doesn’t plan to be a medical doctor, or a lawyer or even accountant.” He continued on a tangent that was witty in its derisiveness, for while there was no word in his speech that was even remotely negative, the whole thing was a more convincing attack on my perceived layaboutishness than any I’d ever heard. When I couldn’t bear it anymore, I told him of my reasons for offending good society and his guilt inspired him to donate a hundred pounds.


I’m no longer blonde, and my fund raising campaign has ended. Would I go blonde again? I could, I think, but I feel that if I did, it would diminish the reasons why I did it in the first place.  I suppose this begs the question, how far would you go for charity? I’ve given my time, my money, my hair, and my body but I think I could do more.

Happy Days,
Afam



2 comments:

Reni J said...

Hahaha, I doubt I could ever go as far as blonde that's for sure! And here's a little bit of spam for you.. Donate to my Race for Life page at http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/lilactintedviews

:)

Anonymous said...

Well said again. He would be proud!

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