Hairstyles and Tribal Implications
Whenever Black and Brown people come together, we talk about hair.
While many of us change our hairstyle frequently, there is a deeper meaning behind many traditional hairstyles. African people have traditionally expressed their tribal affiliation through their hairstyles. Their hair also provided information about their social or marital status.
Some tribes believed that hair was the most elevated point of the body and that it could serve as a conduit for spirits to reach the human soul. Hair, therefore, holds spiritual significance for some communities.
With thousands of tribes across the continent and hair textures ranging from wavy to coily, there are endless styles spread across the continent.
We have chosen 5 particular hairstyles for this post in order to explain the social implications of hairstyles in different communities such as Himba, Tigray, Afar, Fulani, and Malagasy.
In more recent history, certain Black hairstyles were even worn and used to express a political statement.
Afros: During the civil rights movement of the 1960s in the USA, the afro, wearing natural hair out, became a symbol for emancipation, pride, and rebellion. Leaders of the movement, such as Angela Davis, have shaped the image of the afro-wearing freedom fighter.
Dreadlocks: While many wear dreadlocks for style reasons, they generally stand for an expression of an alternative way of life that opposes capitalism and the dominant forms of society. Rastafaris also rock their dreadlocks for religious reasons. They believe that their hair serves as an antennae for connecting to religious inspiration.
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