The Amasunzu traditional hairstyle is hands down one of the most creative ever. Still being worn today, it was and still is a symbol of pride in Rwanda. The Amasunzu hairstyle represented different roles and stages in the life of women and men. When warriors wore the style, it symbolized strength and bravery. Worn by women, it usually marked marital status and virginity. The young woman wore it before they were married. After marriage, some women let their hair grow freely. Achieved through a careful ritual that involved cutting the hair at the sides, and then allowing it to grow towards the middle, amasunzu was definitely a labor of love. Children would look forward to being old enough to take on the hairstyle, and villages would even have competitions on the best designs.
Children dreamed of the day they would be old enough to wear the hairstyle. The Amasunzu is much more than a style choice, Rwandan etiquette is based on the body’s nature. This style was used to reflect important aspects such as might, hygiene, and, for unmarried girls, virginity. It was also a way to show class; powerful leaders, nobles, and the rich wore the hairstyle. The amasunzu hairstyle, having now largely lost its meaning, is slowly becoming popular among those who see it as a way to glorify the Rwandan culture that was lost during the colonialism and post-Rwandan civil war.Today, growing your hair into the amasunzu style is a gesture of pride, and for the young men who do so, it’s a form of self-realization.