Ancient Rwandan Hairstyle: Amasunzu

Rwandans have always cherished and loved their culture and hair has always played a large role in their culture. Rwandans used to wear the amasunzu style in more than 30 different ways.

Amasunzu is a traditionally Rwandan hairstyle that was once worn by men, as well as by unmarried women in order to indicate to potential suitors that they were single and of marriageable age.

A man was identified as powerful, noble and brave if they had the hairstyle. It also showed prestige, especially among men.

According to theatre and film artiste John Kennedy Mazimpaka, 54, there were even competitions on who had the best amasunzu design. “The young were always very anxious to be old enough to sport the style,” he said.

Although the amasunzu has fallen out of style in recent decades, it is currently experiencing a revival in popular interest.

“If we open our arms to go back to our roots, we should do it proudly and wholeheartedly for the general society to benefit,” said Mazimpaka.

Isidole Ndikumana, director of cultural promotion at the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda, urged the youth who opt for amasunzu hairstyles to match it with decent dressing and behaviour in respect to the culture.

At the 90th Academy Awards, the cast of the wildly popular blockbuster Black Panther looked great, and no one more so than Hollywood’s darling, Lupita Nyong’O, unknown to many, her hair on the evening’s red carpet was inspired by images of Amasunzu hairstyles traditional to Rwandan culture.

lupita nyongos hairstyle

Rather than a full-on stylish buzz cut, hairstylist Vernon François wove Nyong’O‘s lengths into a trio of braided segments that wrapped around her crown, a gold thread weaved delicately through the striking design

The traditional style is created by cutting some of the hair sideways, towards the middle, and then allowing it to grow into elaborate crescent-shapes.