The elongated braids are back by popular demand. Thanks to the Mbalantu of Wambo group from Namibia who refused to wear “normal length” braids. Picture: Tumi Wadinepe.
The elongated braids are back by popular demand. Thanks to the Mbalantu of Wambo group from Namibia who refused to wear “normal length” braids. Picture: Tumi Wadinepe.

African hairstyles that are making a huge comeback

By Thobile Mazibuko Time of article published Jan 24, 2020

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In recent years, we’ve seen natural hair grow tremendously worldwide. 

Black girls started to love their coarse, thick hair and decided to take a stand and embrace every strand.  

Although there’s still discrimination against black hair at most institutions (that’s a story for another day) there’s also been a lot of celebrations for this unique hair type. 

We take a look at the ancient African hairstyles, which are making a huge comeback as the new hair trends. 

For the African natives, hair wasn’t just an accessory, it was a crowning glory. Not only did it represent beauty, but it was also of spiritual significance. 

According to Mohamed Mbodj, an associate professor of history at Columbia University and a native of Dakar, Senegal, “the hair is the most elevated point of your body, which means it is the closest to the divine.”
For the natives, hair wasn’t just an accessory, it was a crowning glory. Picture: Tumi Wadinepe.

The strength of the hair

During the Lucian days, every strand was important because it was believed that it could be used to cast spells or inflict harm, hence hairdressers held prominent positions in the community. Lycians are people who lived in the ancient Lycia, an area where Xanthos was a city in Antalya Province.

As much as natural hair is beautiful, it is also difficult and expensive to maintain because styling and grooming black hair is often complicated and time-consuming. Back then, “unstyled" and unkempt hair was largely unseen, so were scarves and "headwraps.” Therefore,  hair was not meant to be covered.

The current hairstyles seen among hippie and punk fans reminisce those of ancient hairstyles such as Kaydaynda Salas, Sebeda. Kaya Mezari, Limyra Mezar steli, Ksanthos Merehi, Ksanthos Harpy, Ksanthos Neredlier.

Just like clothes and shoes, hairstyles haven’t changed, they just evolved and these are extraordinary hairstyles of the ancient times that should trend this year, and beyond...

Bongo locks: During the ancient days, bongo locks, African hair that has been crochet together to form big, thick locks (usually four per head) were what was called Limyra Mezar steli. Some may think that locks are “exotic and strange” but this type of hair is actually the best because it needs no combing, just crotchet every now and then.  

Dreadlocks represent Limyra Mezar steli.  Picture: Tumi Wadinepe.

Cassper’s ponytail: Remember when Cassper had a ponytail that looked liked Tompo’s from Kick Boxer? Well...it’s back this year. Back then, that ponytail was known as Ksanthos Neredlier, except that it was shorter. 

360 plait: Suitable for straight hair, this style is when you tie your hair into a ponytail, or a bun and plait the frontal at 360 degrees. 

 About 2,400 years ago, this hairstyle was known as Kaydaynda Salas. It is also common amongst box braids.
The 360 plait was known as the Kaydaynda Salas in the ancient days.  Picture: Tumi Wadinepe.

Elongated braids: In the 1940s, the Mbalantu of Wambo group from Namibia used to wear their braids in an extra length. The braids would reach ankle length and be plaited using eefipa which are now commonly known as extensions. We’ve seen the likes of Nadia Nakai rock such braids. 

The elongated braids are back by popular demand. Thanks to the Mbalantu of Wambo group from Namibia who refused to wear “normal length” braids.  Picture: Tumi Wadinepe.

Coiffure: Popular in 1895 among the Gold Coast women in Australia, this hairstyle is basically afro hair separated into two sections, tried into buns facing north and further shaping them into a unicorn with a string. 

Mangbetu: Mangbethu is a hairdo where the hair is styled in the form of is’cholo (the Zulu hair). It is derived from The Mangbetu, the Democratic Republic of Congo Natives found deep in the rain-forest area, engaging in animal husbandry, hunting, fishing, and gathering.

Mangbethu can also be done in the form of a wig or a hat.  Picture: Tumi Wadinepe.

Bodi tribe haircut: The short, uncombed haircut on women is known as the Bodi tribe haircut. It was mostly worn by The Bodi (Me'en), a very nice tribe, rather shy found in the Miss Bichai, Hana village, South Ethiopia. Anele Mdoda did the Bodi tribe when she cute her hair shorter and dyed it blonde. 

The short, uncombed haircut on women is known as the Bodi tribe haircut.  Picture: Tumi Wadinepe.

However, as much as styled hair is beautiful, it is also essential to let your hair loose for a while, whether it’s afro, straight hair or locks- every hair needs a breather every now and then. 

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