Growing up in the pristine landscape of rural Chad found me profoundlyin love with the dar-barra, Dazaga for the “world outside”, from a young age.
How can I describe my homeland in words? It is like nowhere else– beautiful, wild and completely irresistible. The expansive skies acting as a canopy over majestic mountain ranges. The sprawling plains, home to parades of elephants, prides of lions and towers of giraffes– free-roaming, intelligent creatures that the western world will only experience in captivity. The taste of the Harmattan dust on your tongue, the sound of the wind traveling through the Savannah grass, and the kiss of the golden, steadfast Saharan sun on your skin followed by the addictive scent of the first rain– a seasonal rebirth after months of dry weather. To live within the nomadic lands of Chad is a sensory experience of which our 5 senses are hardly enough. The wilderness of the place absorbs into your entire being.
Among this bounty, Chébé– at its core, a treasure from nature. Discovered thousands of years ago by my ancestors, this miracle seed, native to Chad, is traditionally ground into a powder, mixed with other ingredients and used in rituals to grow hair to legendary lengths–– an extremely rare phenomenon for tightly textured hair. The Ritual Of Chébé is one of many Chadian beauty and wellness practices I grew upparticipating in with my family, and my community.
CARING FOR PLANET PEOPLE AND CULTURE
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I also grew up with immense respect for the dar-barra taught by the example of my people, the nomads of Chad, who have called those lands home since time immemorial. We tread lightly, using only the resources we need and leaving little-to-no ecological footprint behind. Here there is a fundamental understanding that we did not inherit these lands from our ancestors but borrowedthem from our children. This is why we must leave our planet it in the same, if not better condition, so that future generations may continue to enjoy it.
I have been lucky enough to travel all over the world, finding homewithin cosmopolitan cities including Paris, New York or currently, Auckland. And yet, no matter where my wanderlust has taken me, I have always found myself longing for that feeling of community, harmony and sense of oneness with the dar-barra.
After just a few short years abroad, I returned home in 2009 where I witnessed with anger and grief, the rapiddegradation happening to the land my ancestors inhabited for millennia– the absurd and cruel poaching of elephants in Zakouma for their ivory, the increasingly frequent droughts throughout the Sahel, the receding of Lake Chad at a devastating rate, and the vandalization of prehistoric rock art paintings by unscrupulous tourists. The once lush and fertile oasis on the hills of Moussoro where my parents were born, now arid in response to the catastrophic consequences of climate change.
Propelled by my fascination with Chébé and an ardent desire to protect my homeland, I worked to establish my own organic Chébé farm in 2017, producing an exclusive heirloom variety of the seed that I inherited from my great grandmother (it was virtually extinct until we planted it) using regenerative methods and sustainable, community-focused practices.
You see, by growing and harvesting the Chébé, I am caring not only for the wellbeing of our heirloom seed, but for the entire ecosystem surrounding it. Through responsible farming methods, we are
keeping in balance a fragile ecological community of wild species, indigenous plants, herbs and flowers, unpolluted
neighboring spaces, and profound traditional ancestral knowledge–
without which, important aspects of our history and culture would be lost forever.
But there was still more to be done. Determined to ensure the conservation of my homeland and other globally significant places for future generations, I have given back 1% of our sales from day one to NGO African Parks Network. My company SALWA PETERSEN® supports the Zakouma National Park*– one of the largest intact ecosystems on Planet Earth today, as well as the Natural and Cultural Reserve of the Ennedi Plateau, where one can admire the 8,000 year-old rock art paintings depicting ancient Chébé haircare rituals. Ennedi’s significance was officially marked when it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage in 2016.
As the world continues to struggle with complex, intertwined crises of unprecedented biodiversity loss, climate change, and global pandemics, investing and securing protected areas like these is one of the simplest and most effective actions we can take in ensuring our own survival as human species, before it is too late.
This is my invitation to you. To step beyond that far horizon, where your spirit yearns to be. With an open heart and mind, may you feel a closer connection to our planet– our home. Commit to a promise to care for people, planet and culture. It is when the seasons first drops of rain fall through the cracks of the scorched land, and flow abundantly toward the heart of the globe quenching Mother Earth’s thirst, that our souls will bloom, heal and give us hope, once more.
*Zakouma Park has since expanded to include the Greater Zakouma Ecosystem (GZE) where the Siniaka-Minia and Bahr-Salamat Faunal Reserves, and connecting
areas, are incorporated to preserve migration corridors, restore wildlife and
extend security to areas outside the park boundaries. These biodiverse
landscapes are critical in providing clean air and water, food security and a
better way of life to all, in Chad and beyond.
WHICH CHÉBÉ HAIRCARE RITUAL IS MADE FOR YOU?
Curly Hair Chébé Ritual
Wash, treat and style your tresses with ease with our stand-out Chébé curly hair go-to’s.
Coily & Kinky Hair Chébé Ritual
Show your coils, kinks and tight textures some love with this specially-tailored, ultra-nourishing Chébé regimen for your type 4 hair.
Curly Hair Chébé Ritual
Chébé + Argan Oil + Postbiotics + Green Tea
Wash, treat and style your tresses with ease with our stand-out Chébé curly hair go-to’s. See product details
Coily & Kinky Hair Chébé Ritual
Chébé + Argan Oil + Shea Butter + Flaxseed
Show your coils, kinks and tight textures some love with this specially-tailored, ultra-nourishing Chébé regimen for your type 4 hair. See product details
Wavy Hair Chébé Ritual
Chébé + Argan Oil + Hyaluronic Acid + Oat
Address frizz and enhance texture, while cleansing, hydrating, defining & nurturing using these wave-friendly Chébé picks. See product details