Seasons come and go and these seasons depend largely on the climate and the time of the year. Many people are quick to welcome other seasons like the rainy season but do not want to hear of other seasons, especially the harmattan season which is usually from late October to late March or early April. Some countries refer to this period as winter, for us in the temperate regions, that is our winter too, just that we don’t have any snow during this time. Unfortunately, we can’t do away with it, it is part of the seasons and the best we can do is enjoy it when it comes. Maybe the reason most people do not like this season is because of the heat that comes with it. Since harmattan occurs during the dry season and is characterized by dry north-eastern trade winds, it makes the weather extremely hot and dry.
The north-eastern trade winds come like a tornado moving like a beast gasping for its last breath. During harmattan, the air is dry and dusty, so dry that breathing becomes difficult.
The dry weather also has an effect on the skin, so people get cracked and chapped lips, others get cracked heels, even some people get cracked skins during the season.
People in the northern part of my country Ghana are those who experience harmattan than those in the southern part, this is due to the fact that the trade winds blow from the north east, and by the time they reach southern Ghana, the impact is usually less. That is to say that harmattan is milder in the southern belt and particularly colder and dustier in the north.
That is why when my friends in Kumasi are complaining that there is harmattan and they are affected, I just laugh in my head because they don’t really know what harmattan is. You know it is harmattan when you yawn and your lips crack. You know its harmattan when you smile or laugh carefully for fear of cracking those once succulent but now dry lips. You know its harmattan when you have to put pomade on your skin immediately after bathing because if you delay, your skin will become dry and you will struggle to massage your shea butter or vaseline into your skin. You know its harmattan when you scratch your skin and your fingers leave a white tattoo the area you scratched on your skin. You know its harmattan when the air is so hot and dry that you feel the heat and dryness in your breathe. You know its harmattan when the evenings and nights are cold that you dodge the cold water when you are finally gather courage to bath.
One most important thing that makes us know its harmattan is the smell of dry grass mixed with dust and dry winds, when the dry bushes and grasses are set on fire, then you will smell the real harmattan. And then if you happen to live close to a water body, the smell of the drying water is a gentle reminder that harmattan is knocking hard at the door.
The bushes in the Savannah are set on fire deliberately first of all to make hunting easier for hunters (both man and animals). When the fire is burning, you will find animals like rabbits, rats and so on running helter-skelter and these are what the hunters are looking for. Yes animals also hunt for their food, if you don’t believe it, next time you find yourself in a harmattan zone and a bush is set ablaze, watch the sky, you will find a lot of birds hovering over the fire, they are hunting for food. Research has found out that birds can set fire to a bush to hunt for food. Sometimes too, fire to set to clear the bushes around the home to clear the bush and prevent some deadly animals and reptiles such as snakes from staying too close to the people.
The fire can also be accidental, that is when the winds blow fire from home into the bushes. This can be wild and uncontrollable. When harmattan comes, we are sure that Christmas is around the corner and that means lots of fun and sound memories to treasure forever. I remember Christmas fourteen years ago; a harmattan Santa with a cracked lip but a grateful heart.
The harmattan though brings heat and dryness should not scare anyone, rather, we should learn to appreciate it like we do to the seasons. There are a few safety tips that can help us enjoy the harmattan…
First of all, drink a lot of water. This is because the body uses more than usual during this period and water is known to refresh the body and keep the skin fresh.Dehydration is common during harmattan because of the dryness in the atmosphere. Drinking water will help replace the fluids lost from the body through perspiration. And hey you coffee lovers, your hot coffee will keep you warm when the weather is cold.
Secondly, try to wear protective clothes especially when stepping out. Protective clothing like a pair trousers, long sleeves shirts, sunglasses, gloves, hoods and so on will protect the skin and eyes from the harsh weather. Some people even put cotton in their ears to protect their ears and wear ear muffins as well. no matter what you wear during this time, do not expose your body, you can still look fashionable in the “harmattan clothes”.
Skin and lip moisturisers will also help to maintain the skin and lips during the season. Remember that a lot of our body lotions and cremes may not contain enough moisturisers to necessarily keep the skin moisturised. it is advised to add some oil (most people use baby oils, coconut oils, olive oils and so on) to your creme or body lotion. Shea butter and vaseline are also highly recommended for the both skin and lips, other lip balms can also be used for the lips. Also make sure that you apply the creme to every part of your skin to it in good shape during this time. Wondering where to get your shea butter from? Heritage shea butter and Tuuro shea (check them on instagram and twitter) will sort you out. At least I can testify to that.
Lastly, check what you eat during this season. The weather is already and most foods also get dry, it is recommended that diets should contain more liquids or eat foods that are watery, like soups, water melon, coconut, porridge, juice and so on. Nutritionists particularly advice that we eat a lot of fruits around this time because they contain vitamins which help the body to fight against infectionsThese are also good for the body and the skin.
And when the place gets warm, watch your steps carefully because snakes and other reptiles leave their hideouts in search of cool places. If you want to experience the real harmattan, why don’t you go to a place where you will really feel it and enjoy. Harmattan is nothing to be scared of, as a matter of fact, it is everything to enjoy. CHEERS!!!