The idea of leisure connoting free time makes it synonymous with
laziness and wastefulness which does not fit very well within African traditional
thought. In the colonial era, the idea of leisure was seen as alien to the
Africans and in the post-colonial era, some people associated it with idleness
and irresponsibility. A deeper dig however in history, shows the African man and
woman kept themselves entertained on specific occasions whenever they were
not working. These pastime activities included dance, bull fighting, games,
drawing and even hair styling. Problem: there exists a deep rooted
misconception that African hairstyles are without local aesthetic
content or value. From the western view, the African was thought to
have no sense of leisure. Objective: the objective of this study was to
establish the role and the reasons for varied hairstyles donned by
Africans then and now. Design: the study used desktop and library
research methods
Setting: the study was conducted in Nairobi Kenya under the
auspices of the school of the arts and design of the University of
Nairobi. Its scope however spanned Africa and the diasporic
dispensations all over the world. Subjects: Prominent hairstylists
were interviewed. Anthropologist gave their views while experts in
fashion and fads were involved in a focus group discussion. Results:
it emerged that African artistic expression through hair styling
persists even in the era great neo-colonial influence from the west.
Today, new styles have been infused with the old to forge new
expressions away from the traditional ones of aesthetic,
entertainment and rebellion. Notable are the Rasta and the hair
extensions popular in the Americas among people from Africa and the
ex-slave descendants. Conclusion: Several African scholars have explored
115 January 2021 Vo-16 No-1 Design for All Institute of India
the history of hair making from pre-colonial Africa to contemporary times (Byrd,
2001). Prior to the colonial times, Black hair denoted cultural and spiritual
meanings for both men and women. While some of the hairstyles that were
donned by Africans during this period are still worn today, including twists,
braids, Zulu knots, Nubian knots, and dreadlocks, the manner and occasions in
which they did this will always remain different from modern time’s hair
making. Standards of beauty have varied enormously according to time and
place. Yet as long as people have ordered their social relations, hairdressing has
had a role in the struggle for status and reproduction.