The African woman is a jewel. Her heart is love, and her mind is stacked with infinite wisdom. Wisdom from long before. The women of Africa have in many ways helped and saved their people. They have fought in the military, accepted marriages to save their people, negotiated their way through dire circumstances, and in many cases even offered their lives for those they love. These women have shown bravery strength and wisdom when fighting for their own, and this article will introduce to you yet another way the African woman has saved their people through their courage and wisdom. This article will introduce you to the Cornrow hairstyle, and how the African women effectively used this hair-braiding talent to feed, protect, save, and eventually release their people from bondage.

In the early years of slavery, when the trans-Atlantic slave trade was at its peak, Africans were sold and used as slaves. They worked without rest, in dilabitating conditions. At that time, the white slavers shaved the hairs of black slaves for sanitary purposes, since they refused to provide basic amenities for slaves. But even these hard-hearted slavers could not stomach the idea of cutting the hairs of the black women. Why was that so? These women took care of themselves, especially their hair. They never stopped braiding their hair, Patterning it in different ways that thrilled the white men. So they allowed the African women to keep their hair, and they allowed them to braid it as often as they liked. But how did hair braiding help those slaves at that time?

At that time, every slave in Shackle had one dream and one dream only. It was to escape his or her bondage. But this was close to impossible. For one, these slaves were always watched, so they could never really sit together to come up with a plan. The slaves were also confined in farms with maze-like plantations without them knowing the exits out of the farms. The slaves were also not allowed to eat while they worked, or to eat from what they planted. Rather, they lived on the little that were given by their slave owners, which was most of the time, just enough to keep them breathing and working. So how did the hair braiding by the women help at that time?

THE CORNROW HAIRSTYLE. A TRUE TESTAMENT TO THE CREATIVITY WISDOM AND COURAGE OF THE AFRICAN WOMAN

1 IT HELPED THEM MAKE PLANS

The women spent time after work braiding each other’s hair. This gave them an avenue to make plans or pass them to the next woman, and those women in turn passed those plans to their lovers or husbands. Although this method of planning and strategizing was long and intense, in the end, it proved to be very effective. The women to the slavers were no threat to them, and that was their biggest mistake.

2 IT HELPED THEM TO MAP THEIR TERRITORY

The white slavers must have been smart when they built their plantations. They had arranged them in mazes so slaves trying to escape the farm ended up getting lost, and eventually captured. The slaves were not privy to write or draw down the maze. They had to rely on their memory to escape and on many occasions, it failed them. But even these plans were no match for the wisdom of the African woman. The women at that time studied the mazes and the plantation so well, and so as not to forget, they braided their hair exactly the pattern of the mazes. For example, there is a certain style with curved braids, tightly braided on their heads. The curved braids would represent the roads they would pass through to escape.

THE CORNROW HAIRSTYLE. A TRUE TESTAMENT TO THE CREATIVITY WISDOM AND COURAGE OF THE AFRICAN WOMAN

3 IT HELPED THEM COMMUNICATE EASILY

They also used their hairstyles to communicate with each other, especially to warn about their oppressors and when they were to escape. For example, these women braided a hairstyle in the past called “depart” to tell their black brothers and sisters that they would be escaping in days or even hours.

4 IT HELPED IN FEEDING THEM

when we say their braids fed them, we don’t mean that they ate their braids. But it was a way to take extra food for themselves. It is impossible to make plans and execute them on an empty stomach. The women at that time understood this fact and they worked toward it. They would braid their hair into buns which allowed them to store extra foods like peas, maize, etc. Through this means they fed themselves and planned their escape.THE CORNROW HAIRSTYLE. A TRUE TESTAMENT TO THE CREATIVITY WISDOM AND COURAGE OF THE AFRICAN WOMAN

 

5 THEY PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE

The braid, “depart”, was always braided before the escape. Apart from telling all slaves about their plan it also was used to store grains that would prove fruitful for those who successfully escaped to plant their food and eat in the future. The hairstyle had thick, tight braids, braided closely to the scalp, and was tied into buns on the top. It was exceptionally effective for storing maize, rice, and other vegetables. After their escape, all the women would loosen their hair and use these grains to feed themselves. Some even took gold ornaments and hid them in their hair before the escape. These go a long way in helping them survive.

 

Today the cornrow hairstyle is simply for aesthetic value, but we do not forget the women who first wore these hairstyles and the creativity behind these beautiful braids. They risked their lives as well as used their beauty and talents to vindicate themselves. The next time you look at the mirror with your cornrow braid, always remember these women, their sacrifice, and their heritage, for you are an African woman, and in some difficult situations, being an African woma

n is all that matters

Leave a Reply