If you watch the music video Classic Man by Jidenna, one of the first things you would see is the high class and diversity of the individuals in the video. In the video, no two people have the same fashion styles, dancing styles, or hairstyles. As for the hairstyles, you can see styles ranging from afros to full beards for men and from all natural to straight hair for women. The hairstyles in this video also take into fact the style of head wear associated with the hair itself. Many people are wearing decorative hats to match the styles of their outfits. Also, the barbershop in this music video, which is associated with good hair and hairstyles, brings in a sense of community where people can socialize and enjoy one another’s presence. For this blog, I want to focus on the diversity of hairstyles and head wear and how a sense of community was built around them.
While researching the diversity of hairstyles and head wear in the continent of Africa, I came across an interesting article that stated that the head was a great site for aesthetics and symbolic elaboration of the body. This article states that the head plays a central role in how the human being is abstracted and that there are many different interpretations of the head around the continent. For instance, the Yoruba of Nigeria interpret the head as the seat of ori, personal destiny (Arnoldi & Kreamer, 1995). The Kaguru of Tanzania believe the head connects persons to birth and ultimately to the land of the dead (Arnoldi & Kreamer, 1995). With all of these positive interpretations of the head around the continent, it is justifiable that the people across the continent would want to have the head dressed and styled well.
The style of the head wear and the hairstyle of the individual can be more than just an aesthetic, it can be symbolic of many different associations and meanings. The head wear or hairstyle can denote membership to a certain religion, mark and celebrate a person’s life cycle, identify key participants at rituals and festivals, and designate military, hunters, musicians, and other specialties (Arnoldi & Kreamer, 1995). In a nutshell, the hairstyle or head wear can be representative of one’s social status.
Towards the end of the music video, you can see Jidenna putting on a red, brimless hat. This hat was familiar to me because I remember seeing that same hat in “Black and White in Color”. From what I can remember in the movie, the red hat signified that you were in the military and that you were more liked by the whites than people without the red hats. Although these red hats were used in a divisive manner when dealing with the colonists, they were effective in setting a status symbol over an individual’s head that gave them their role in the community.
Arnoldi, Mary Jo, and Christine Mullen Kreamer. “Crowning Achievements: African Arts of Dressing the
Head.” African Arts, vol. 30, no. 2, 1995, pp. 22–35., doi:10.2307/3337425.