AMASUNZU: AN ANCIENT RWANDA STANDARD FOR BEAUTY

AMASUNZU: AN ANCIENT RWANDA STANDARD FOR BEAUTY

When we discuss African beauty standards, most of the time, we find ourselves discussing the female dress and grooming, hygiene, cultural practices as regards ceremonies, and many more aspects of the woman’s life. But in most cases, we neglect the male gender. This is because, many African tradition attributes beauty to be a trait or feature that is to be particular among women, while the men are to be strong, hardworking, and intimidating warriors and protectors for their tribe. Only a few African cultures emphasize how males should look and their beauty standards, and today we will be discussing one of these few African cultures. This article will introduce its readers to the Rwandan haircut the Amasunzu
The Amasunzu was a haircut that was worn by Rwandans back in the day. The hairstyle consisted of over 30 haircut styles, that a Rwandan man was expected to wear. The hairstyle was designed by cutting some of the hair sideways towards the middle, creating a thin or broad parting according to the style, and then leaving it to grow. The

style takes so many thrilling forms. Some designs look like circles within circles, in some, they resemble waves of the sea, while some look like a wall behind a wall. The haircut goes beyond just a haircut it is the beauty standards of the Rwandan men, and the price for not cutting your hair in the confined of one of the haircuts can be very detrimental to an individual.

AMASUNZU: AN ANCIENT RWANDA STANDARD FOR BEAUTY

In the 2004 book titled Surviving the Slaughter: The Ordeal of a Rwandan Refugee in Zaire by Marie Beatrice Umutesi a Rwandan writer, she illustrated to her readers the consequences for a Rwandan man not heading to the haircut style. It talked about a male character who was held for some time in a Rwandan jail and exiled to Burundi, and why was this individual jailed. you may ask, because “His behavior was considered subversive by the authorities, who faulted him for wearing a beard and not having the required Amasunzu haircut”.

AMASUNZU: AN ANCIENT RWANDA STANDARD FOR BEAUTY

This example above shows just how important this haircut was to the Rwandan population. But although the example showed the consequences of not wearing the haircut, not many faulted. The Amasunzu haircut was loved by the Rwandans then. For them, the haircut expresses apart from beauty, one’s power, bravery, prestige, as well as nobility. It was seen worn by both the wealthiest in the society as well as those that were poor. Although the intricate design of the hairstyle was also used to reflect important aspects of life such as class, wealth, and leadership, the haircut was still seen worn by all. But this isn’t all about this thrilling haircut. The Amasunzu was also worn by women!!!

The Amasunzu was a unisex hairstyle, also worn by young unmarried women to help reflect important aspects of their lives such as virginity, hygiene, and growth. Only married women were allowed to grow and braid their hair. Many adolescent girls looked forward to the time when they would be allowed to wear the Amasunzu hairstyle. To the people of Rwanda, wearing the Amasunzu was a privilege. Men and women alike would contest in different competitions to prove their creativity. They would battle each other in and across villages until the best stylist of the haircut was seen and given prices.

AMASUNZU: AN ANCIENT RWANDA STANDARD FOR BEAUTY

Today the Amasunzu haircut no longer has its importance. After the colonialism of the country by the Germans and later Belgium, Rwanda lost most of its customs and traditions. But isn’t that the story of almost every other African country out there?
Although this hairstyle was lost, it was never forgotten. The hairstyle was used in the famous movie Coming to America, featuring Eddie Murphy. Throughout his career, the haircut was worn by African American legendary singer and songwriter, Bobby Brown, and much more recently the Amasunzu has resurfaced back to the spotlight with Hollywood actors and actresses flaunting the look, including the beautiful Lupita Nyongo. We have a lot more ancient practices customs and traditions that have been lost away, waiting like the Amasunzu to once again resurface in the spotlight, and we are confident that they too will thrill the world.

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