African hair salon gives black women a community

Cynthia Obleton opened Sankofa Braiding and Natural HairCare in 2014.

Cynthia Obleton was born and raised in Abandze, a coastal town in Ghana’s Central Region. She started braiding at age fifteen and opened her first salon at seventeen. In 2010, Obleton moved from Ghana to Oakland, where she started a braiding business at her house. In 2014, she opened Sankofa Braiding and Natural HairCare in South Berkeley. She says she wants her salon to be a place where black women feel comfortable. “I realized that I’m living in a place where we are not really recognized,” she says. Obleton never finished secondary school in Ghana, and wasn’t able to continue her education until she moved to Oakland. She says she has no regrets, but wants her three children to have more opportunities than she did growing up. “They don’t have to figure out how to sit up and crawl and be tested. No,” she says. “I want them to start running.”

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