By Attiya Karodia
The Afro has been worn by people whose crafts demanded an assurance of self, a Freedom of artistic ability and a confidence in who they were, which is why the Afro Hall of Fame is a bar raised high by;
The Jackson Five
Let’s go back to when the Afro was avoided, in the time when Africans themselves tried hard to be un-African. Prior to the American Civil War and every other milestone of African Independence all over the world, African hair was treated as something to be tamed, to be repressed by hair relaxers & braids. African hair became a metaphor for how the oppressed African diaspora’s psyche operated.
With the rise of the Black Panthers in America, the independence of formerly colonised African states and Steve Biko preaching Black Consciousness in South Africa, so did the first return of the Afro in the form of Black Pride. Women and men embraced the nature of their ‘fros, being as extravagant as possible, and above all, being proud of what had been bestowed upon them.
But then, post independence of most African states the Afro died away again. Crushed by a new fad, The American Dream. As a woman, you wanted to dress like Hilary Clinton, with hair like Jennifer Aniston, speak like you went to a private school and earn enough to get you out of the ghetto and into the suburbs.
The same happened in African countries, where Africans lost their heritage, or worse, were ashamed of who they are intrinsically. The issue is not about being well-spoken, or about choosing a path that isn’t intensely tribal, but it is about embracing what you have been given, and the Afro is a symbol for Freedom of Self and that is why I’m now loving the return of the Afro as a natural fashion choice and not merely a political statement. It shows that the choice is being made on a personal level. Not everyone has to wear their hair in a ‘Fro, but isn’t it nice to see it’s return?
If you aren’t sure what route to take with your afro, take some inspiration from the Queens of ‘Fro:
Singer, Solange Knowles
South African Fashion Blogger, Funeka Ngwevela
South African Actress, Pearl Thusi