As February is known as a month of love, it is also known as the month set aside to celebrate Black History. It is celebrated from February 1 to February 28/29 and known as Black History Month
In the Spirit of this month, I decided to share some Epic African Hairstyles I did in the year 2019. As someone who loves the African culture- our history, originality and style, I decided to launch some retro styles that may have been long forgotten by us.
There is no way we would talk about African Culture and not mention African Hair. It plays a very significant role in the culture of Ancient African Civilizations. It symbolized one’s family background, social status, spirituality, tribe and marital status. As early as the 15th century, different tribes used hair to show one’s social hierarchy.
For example- In my country, Nigeria, Ori which is the Yoruba word for Head is often referred to as a body which other parts of the main body are answerable to. A baby who narrowly escapes death during birth is named Oriyomi which loosely means “my head saved me”. They have a practice in which they believe each person has an Oriki- a song they use to eulogize the Head of the person of course which has deeper spiritual meanings. Oriki is gotten from two words- Ori and Ki. Ori meaning head and Ki- a verb which means to praise. It is praise used to describe what a child is or what a child is meant to become.
Also in the African Culture, the head(Hair) is adorned with different traditional beads, pieces of jewellery, cowries, coloured cloth, flowers, wooden combs. Our ancestors believed the hair mattered a lot and it could express words not even said. An impression could be made of a person from his or her physical(outward) appearance starting from his or her head- the hairstyle he[she] had and this will determine his[her] look and the person’s outlook of him[her] hence why they ensured their hair was properly kept. An unkempt hair denoted that a person was ill. Covering the hair completely with clothes was not done by our ancestors in any African country. The hair was seen as glorious and was meant to be rocked in different styles from time to time.
It was also a form of Identity. Soldiers/Warriors had their unique hairstyles, single ladies/bachelors and married women also did specific hairstyles unique to them. For example, in Ile- Ife which is known as the Historical Home of all Yorubas, at the Ooni Palace, some men known as the Emese are seen to be wearing a unique form of haircut/style which serves as their Identity. Emeses are traditional palace guards or aides on the palace’s payroll. Dedicated to particular lineages, the Emese are easily identifiable by the unique hairstyles they wear, which is one half of the head shaved clean – from front to back. When the Ooni travels anywhere, he goes with a couple of them in tow; and when he is away some are left behind oversee the affairs of the palace.
The hair is also a non-verbal form of communication. I strongly believe it is. In black history, the African women captured abroad were at one point ordered to cover their hair with clothes(I e head ties) as the white women were feeling intimidated by the impression they got of the African women’s hair who rocked their hair beautifully and with so much pride. Pretty soon, the African women adopted the head ties and they did so in even more gorgeous ways. The African hair has spoken louder than words could ever speak. It spoke volumes of Pride, Dignity, Beauty and Confidence. It has been used as a tool to fight for the Emancipation of African Americans in the U.S. With the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s, came the rise of the natural hair movement that encouraged black communities to accept their hair and turn away from damaging products. The notion of conforming to European standards did not fit with their message of black power. Women and men embraced their “AFRO”. Popular icons of the time like Angela Davis, Jimi Hendrix and Diana Ross were known for their afros. Sporting these natural styles was its form of activism, and seen as a statement in reclaiming their roots.
So moving on to the hairstyles I did in 2019. As a result of my self-awareness and increased knowledge about black history, I decided to revisit ancient hairstyles that have been done in the past and it was a beautiful experience. Below are the pictures of the hairstyles with a little description.
A traditional hairstyle that mimics the actual Eko bridge in the state of Lagos, Nigeria. The hairstyle is made to look like a road roundabout.
2. Orisabunmi(1st Style)
3. Orisabunmi (2nd style)
Did a fringe with this one. Decided to revamp it when I did it the second time.
I stood proud with my afro everywhere and at any time. Many got used to seeing my hair in different forms and shapes of Afro. It was a beautiful Fro-ful 2019. Looking forward to bring back the fro this year.
I love feedbacks and I will love to hear from you in the comment box below.