The Importance of Hair
It is believed that if a woman has thick hair, she will have many children, farms and riches.
Loose hair indicates filth, untidiness or mourning. A member of a tribe is not allowed to have loose hair as it is generally not regarded as appropriate. This belief is also shared by the Hindus of India. Hair is let loose only during death ceremonies.
The official groomer of the family is usually the oldest member. The younger generations look on while the braids are done and practice it on others who are willing. The items used for braiding include palm oil or shea butter or argan oil. The oil is basically used to guard the hair from extreme heat. The act of braiding can last for several hours or days.
A well groomed person is considered healthy and well mannered, and the social customs encourage braids. Well done braids help in attracting a partner during ceremonies. As fire and fire dances are typically a part of social ceremonies, a practical aspect of braids is that it keeps the hair away from fire.
Modern immigrants have revived the custom of braiding, which was lost due to slave trade to a certain extent. The immigrants who hail from Guinea, Cameroon, Mali, Benin and Togo use the latest hair products and synthetic or human hair available in the market to braid, and appointments are readily available through online booking centers. The descendents of immigrants are often encouraged to sport braids and not let go of the traditional customs of African tribes.