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I am my hair, Pre-Colonial African Hairstyles

Hair played a major Cultural function in Pre-Colonial African Societies.

For example, people from Nations like the Yoruba, Mende and Wolof used it to communicate things such as ranking, religion, wealth, ethnic identity as well as marital status.   

Additionally, they were also distinct hairstyles which indicated Royalty.

Hair was basically a significant visual cue with Spiritual connotations communicating vitality, prosperity, and fertility along with serving as a means for talking with the Divine that had been thought to take place through Hair.

With the arrival of Slavery, African Hair was seen as’ Kinky’,’ Wooly’ and unwanted which has been associated with the dehumanization of Slaves.

This led to negative low self esteem amidst Slaves and following generations leading to extensive “hair straightening” and also “skin lightening” which all reflected Black Self Hatred.

In 400 Years without A Comb, Willie L Murrow explored the discovery of the Afrocomb in the late 60s which marked the first time Africans in the diaspora re-united with the most ancient hair care tool from before Slavery.

The effect was a resurgence of Black self esteem with the rise of the Black afro-hairstyle and Black is Beautiful movement.

In the final analysis, the consequences of Slavery on Black Hair styling remain, and we previously discussed this aspect in the post, Black Hair, The Afrocomb & Slavery

Nevertheless, over time people have come to re-embrace some of the more traditional African Hairstyles as they continue to discover the proud History of African Hair in conjuction with their identity.

Enjoy the gallery of some impressive Hairstyles from Pre-Colonial Africa as well as the Documentary 400 Years Without A Comb