Butter Braids and Dreadlocks: A look at Africa’s traditional hairstyles

Mildred Europa Taylor February 12, 2018

Dreadlocks from the Himba Tribe — Only Tribal

Dreadlocks from the Himba Tribe of Northwestern Namibia

Found in the northwestern region of Namibia, the Himba Tribe style their hair according to one’s age, marital status and the stage of life they find themselves in. Their hair is often dreadlocked with a mixture of ground ochre, goat hair and butter. Indian hair extensions have in recent times been included in creating these dreadlocks. For a teenage girl, she gets braid strands or dreadlocks that hangs over her face. A young woman who is ready to marry would tie back her dreadlocks, showing her face. Married women wear an Erembe headdress made from animal skin over their head. A man who is not married would wear a single plait to indicate their status. But once they marry, the men cover their heads with turbans and never remove them, except during funerals.

The Himba are indigenous peoples with an estimated population of about 50,000 people. They are mostly semi-nomadic herders.


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