Showing posts with label Swahili Women. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Swahili Women. Show all posts

Friday, 5 August 2011

Afrocentric

Its a Hair Thang!

What is there not to like about this photo!  Its a master piece, a piece of art that I would display somewhere in my house. It is simply dynamic.  Al Green, one of my childhood idols!
When I saw this photo, it inspired me so much that I thought I would do some research on African hair (Afro Hair). 


The term Afro hair, automatically refers to black kinky hair.  It can be bushy, spring like, spongy or woolly if you like, when you feel it.   I'm talking about virgin African hair that hasn't been processed.

I remember starting to hear the term Afro in very early 70, I didn't give a hoot about it, I just new it was some kind of hairstyle that only stylish people wore.  Then later on, I came to understand it originated from America.  We had lots of African American family friends in my country (Tanzania) and yes, the younger ones all had   'The Afro hair do' (as they called it).  This trend was then picked up by the younger generation of that era and it was considered to be cool to have an Afro hair do at that time. 

 Thinking back, as I once wrote about my native fabric, The Khanga being a media of communication, African hair was also a mode of communication.    Just by looking at a particular hair style and how it was groomed, it determined the identity, gender, age, even ethnicity.  You would see all sorts of creativity in terms of cuts, shaves, braids, colour, and styles.   For instance, in some tribes there will be a significant hair style on a young girl who just had their first period and is a virgin, or a bride to be.  Likewise on a man you would be able to determine if that person is a chief, a warrior, or if the family is in mourning.  Hair styles can also establish what region or country the person is from.

For women, grooming each others hair brought unity and built a loving society amongst families.  Braiding each others hair was like a social event and a way of getting to know each other.  Women proved their artistic skills in creating different kinds of styles and this tradition was passed on for generations. 
Swahili women wearing Khanga braiding away

 In East Africa, coconut oil was very popular for hair and scalp and was  mostly used by coastal natives.  It was believed that coconut oil made hair manageable and healthy and also good for scalp. I personally couldn't stand the smell of it but I saw loads of lovely and healthy hair especially those who were using this particular oil.  I know in West Africa Shea Butter is also very popular up to now.
  I could go on about hair, but will stop here for today.  Enjoy the images I have put together for you.


Having a comb stuck on your Fro (Afro) was once an 'in thing', it was considered cool for some, although I thought it just looked ridiculous, just like wearing pants half way on ones bottoms.

(Say It Loud!)
James Brown and Michael Jackson looking good with their Fros



Mhh ..... stunning Masai warrior getting his hair twisted.  Hair twisting takes as long as 2 to 6 hrs depending on the size of the twist and the hair style. On this image this cool dude is getting his hair twisted with clay and red ocher, a type of soil found in volcanic regions. It has been said that this is where the journey of dreadlocks started!

Pretty African girl, totally unaware how stylish and amazing she looks!

Amazing African hair do's! I wonder if this is where the Punks got their inspirations from!



This elegant hair style has been twisted using  black thread. I believe the use of the thread twisting style originates from Central Africa.   It was very much in fashion during the 70's/80's.
I am definitely going back to this very soon, I think it is just super.

Another stylish Swahili woman, half corn row, half combed and brushed kinky hair (evidence of coconut oils).  Exquisite!

I think I will be right to say the commercialisation of Afro hair started in the 21st Century, new hair products, different hair styles, hair accessories, were soon in the market.  The black hair Industry is without a doubt a multimillion industry world wide.  African women around the world were bombarded by TV adverts and magazines enticing them to buy hair care products.  The native Masai people are in the city providing the best salon in twisting hair in East Africa, and the business now is expanding worldwide.
  Gone were the days of braiding each others hair with laughter without paying a penny.  

Question; What will happen if majority of us decide to go natural, is it a wishful thinking? Will we ever decide to that? It will be dooms day for the hair industry I reckon.

I am welcoming any additional (positive) comments regarding African hair!  I would like to read your point of views.  


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