Braids and dreadlocks are two unique hairstyles brought by black Africans to the world. Different tribal customs in Africa require different hairstyles. The afro look, braids and dreadlocks persist up to the present because they evoke a stronger statement of African pride and they are also aesthetically exemplary.
The braids are said to trace their roots to the Masai warriors, who sport their hair long, sometimes up to the waits before splicing them into braids. The braids are said to add the control to the hair while at the same time give the warrior a scarier and more fearsome look.
Braids are made by splicing thin bundles of hair into each other to for different geometrical formations of the hair with the scalp as a based. This is not just aesthetics, however, as these formations trace their roots to African culture symbolizing different occasions and stages in the life of the man or a woman. The hair braids are then locked at the tips to hold them in place.
Just like braiding, dreadlocks were traditional hair sported by certain tribes in Africa reportedly present day Senegal and Ethiopia. When slaves from these countries were brought to the north and south Americas the hairstyle was imported.
In the early part of the 20th century, people sporting the dreadlocks, particularly in the African slaves plantations of South America were looked upon as lower beings and their hair the symbol of their oppression. It was in this context when these African people stood up against the oppression, made a statement for their individuality and lived up to their culture with pride.
When reggae music, popularized by Bob Marley in the 1970s gained popularity, the lower class braids and dreadlocks became fashion symbols, embraced even by the whites.
Creating dreadlocks is almost as free-style as the people who sport their hair. Strands of hair of varied volume are grouped, back-combed (to ruffle it) and then waxed in place. Some hardcore dreadlocks sport their hair for years to obtain the ultimate dread look.
The popularity of braids and dreadlocks was amassed, thanks to the influence of many black artists and celebrities. The whites also made their contribution when they adopted this hairstyle and the rebellious, freedom-seeking personality that goes behind the hairstyle.
At present braids and dreadlocks are a fashion statement and a personality that is a unique sub-culture in many parts of the world. The people who wear it, however, are united by the hairstyle’s origin and personality.