Weaving Hope


From Guinea, the Congo and Angola, infamous ships would swiftly set sail packed with African men and women — over 11 million of whom were stripped of their land and their families during the 18th century and shipped to the ‘New World’.

Many of the slavery ships headed for Colombia, a country that today has the second largest African descendent contingency in South America after Brazil. It is also the first country on the continent to witness the freeing of slaves. Today, slavery in these latitudes has been replaced by extreme poverty and government neglect. African communities are the ones that have had to learn to live with these scourges.

One way to do it is with pride. Afro-Colombian communities account for 26 percent of the national population, and every year in May, they celebrate Afro-Colombian week, in which the pride of being an "Afro" is celebrated through many different cultural activities.

Afro-Colombian week's Afro hairstyle contest, called "Weaving Hope", is held in Cali, the capital of the department of Valle del Cauca. The best stylists and afro-braiding women come together to participate in this event, bringing their own models along to create the most original hairstyles. Braids of all sizes and colors, moorings, silhouettes and even folds that can cause the hair to look like a sort of fruit-basket are woven at this event with a joy that pays tribute to their African cultural roots. 

Here are the hairstyles that raised the most applause.