In Africa: hair style is a resistance

In the last month, there was two news popped up in African news pages and websites. the first one came from Ethiopia where Oromo and Amharic protestors and activists shaved their hair as a gesture of their solidarity with who killed in the demonstrations. Traditionally, shaving is an expression of sadness of missing loved ones.

While the second one is in  the south by young girls in a high school in  Pretoria (South Africa) protested against the school’s declaration to ban afro hairstyle. and that raised again the dilemma of racist practices by settlers. This incident shows how the post-apartheid generation  challenges and resists ANC policies.


How is the hair a powerful symbol in African precipitation?

I did not read about the anthropology of hair styles in African traditions, but these two recent actions made me reconsider  Rastafari. Regardless the religious origin and interpretation, Rastafari dreadlocks associated with resistance or preaching for African identity and pan-African doctrine since the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie adopted Rastafari as a religion. then it popularized internationally with Bob Marley and his reggae music. then Jamaica, the home of Rastafari, dreadlocks is a symbol of emancipated slaves.

the Kenyan independence movement “Mau Mau” used dreadlocks as one of its symbols. and another narrative , I read mentioned that Massai warriors used to make their hair dreadlocks. also, Afro hairstyle was a symbol of civil movements in USA.

Robert Nzaou Kissolo ( Congolese Photographer) showed in his exhibition “Obsession” that naturality and be authentic are tools to resist the dominant modern/standard life. here is the article on the photo exhibition

Meklit Hydro an Ethiopian singer has a song (Kemekem) that means I like your Afro,

and in this video, there is a trial to document African hair styles across years

Black Women’s Hair Throughout History


photo citation: it is retrieved from


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