February is Black History Month in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, so I put together a three-part mini blog series that celebrates young men of color in Botswana as my contribution to the annual month long remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African Diaspora.
Cornrows are a universally famous hairstyle, made even more popular by the likes of Kim Kardashian West, Kylie Jenner and Gigi Hadid in 2015 and 2016, but lets take a look past the more recent A-lister obsession with tightly pulled underhand braids and learn more about the history behind the trendy raised rows.
Some sources suggest that the ancient hairstyle can be dated as far back as 3000 B.C with evidence in Stone Age paintings depicting women of the Tassili Plateau of the Sahara with cornrows. This traditional hairstyle remained popular among women in the Horn of Africa and West Africa throughout the ages and became a notorious hairstyle for great male warriors and kings in and around Ethiopia in the early nineteenth century. Cornrows made a comeback in the 1960s and 1970s, and again during the 1990s, when NBA basketball player Allen Iverson repopularized the hairstyle.
During times of enslavement in America, black peoples heads were often shaved upon capture, which had a psychological impact of being stripped of one’s culture. Re-establishing traditional hair styles in the new world was thus an act of resistance, one that could be carried out covertly. Which, I believe, is why the hairstyle went through such a controversial phase in the 2000s, because it made white supremacists uncertain of the intentions behind an otherwise ancient traditional hairstyle. In 2011 the British High Court ruled against secondary schools that disallowed schools to refuse entry to students based on their hairstyles, this then enabled students to express themselves, their culture and heritage through braiding their hair neatly into tight rows without being incriminated.
Below are some photographs that I took of model Brandon Simbarashe Moyo to show-off the versatility of kinky African hair, as well as the beauty in black boys in the twenty-first century.
Thank you for reading this blog. I hope you find it to be insightful.
Take care and stay blessed. Xx