Beauty
Image from Josef Adamu's 'The Hair Appointment' Series. Photo by Jeremy Rodney-Hall

Reclaiming Tradition: How Hair Beads Connect Us to Our History

A history of beads and African hair jewelry told through the unforgettable story of Baroness Floella Benjamin.

In 1977, Trinidadian-British actress and singer Floella Benjamin (OBE) was on her way to premiere her new blaxploitation film Good Joy at the Cannes Film Festival in the south of France. Styled in braids carefully accented by layered beads, she knew she'd standout amongst the festival's mostly white attendees, but nothing prepared her for the kind of reception she would ultimately receive.

"We drove along the [Promenade of] La Croisette," she recalls, "in an open top Cadillac for the film premiere and as we passed along, the crowds tried to grab my hair to get a bead as a souvenir."

It was a decade when sequined jumpsuits, gaudy fur stoles and overgrown sideburns were the norm, yet Benjamin's beaded look, which many black folks might have considered ordinary, was met with unparalleled fascination—a uniquely African hairstyle that black women had been wearing for centuries hadn't been seen before at a place like Cannes. "I stayed at the Carlton Hotel and the maids were intrigued," she recalls. "They kept knocking on my door just to look and stare at me."

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Update: Final Four Hostages Released In Cameroon School Kidnapping

Two remaining students as well as the school's principal and a teacher have been freed.

The four remaining hostages in last week's kidnapping at a boarding school near Bamenda, Cameroon have been released, BBC Africa reports.

Despite reports last week that all 78 students had been released, details later emerged that two students, as well as the school's principal and one teacher still remained in captivity. BBC journalist Peter Tah adds, that the two students who were held may have been targeted because their parents work for the government. "From what I gather, the gunmen tried to find out which of the children had parents who worked for the government," he said.

"People whose parents worked for the government were held and separated for more questioning. The last two children were held because of their parents' jobs."

The group was reportedly dropped of near the town of Bafut on Monday. The school's principal is currently receiving medical attention.

Separatist groups have continued to deny involvement in the kidnapping, despite accusations from the government.

Keep reading for last week's story:

Seventy-eight students who were kidnapped from a boarding school in northwest Cameroon on Monday have been released, reports BBC Africa. The school's driver was also freed with the students, while the principal and one teacher are still being held by captors.

Reverend Fonki Samuel Forba of the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon says that the students, 42 girls and 36 boys according to CNN, were abandoned "peacefully... by unidentified gunmen," adding that the "[students] were brought into the church premises." He told the BBC that he received a call from the kidnappers stating that they planned to return the children yesterday, but they were delayed due to heavy rain in the area.

READ: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Pens Op-Ed on the Ongoing Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon

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More Than 70 Students Have Been Abducted From a School In Northwest Cameroon

Officials have blamed separatist militias in the country's English-speaking regions for the kidnapping.

Several students were kidnapped from the Presbyterian Secondary School, near the northwestern capital of Bamenda either late Sunday or early morning on Monday, according to Cameroonian officials.

Seventy-eight students are reported to have been taken from the school, allegedly by separatists militiamen. The school's principal and two other employees have also been reported missing. According to government officials, no one was killed during the kidnapping which occurred the village of Nkwen.

A video, believed to have been recorded by one of the kidnappers, shows several young boys, looking obviously shaken, reciting the words "I was taken from school last night by the Amba boys, I don't know where I am" at the request of the kidnapper. The boys who attend the boarding school are all between the ages of 10 and 14.

READ: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Pens Op-Ed on the Ongoing Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon

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