Africa Direct

A Legacy: Reviving Rwanda’s dramatic hairstyle

Rwanda’s striking Amasunzu hairstyle, with its crests and partings which once carried messages, is making a comeback.

Rwanda’s Amasunzu hairstyles are eye-catching sculptures of dramatic shapes, peaks and shaved partings.

These once-famous styles were worn as a form of identity in pre-colonial times, with each hair design communicating information, messages and stories.

The tradition died out but is making a comeback – and Minani Saleh is an expert stylist. In his salon, he shapes and shaves patiently and relates the history of this unique look. He is quietly determined to protect this Rwandan cultural legacy for generations to come.

Mutiganda Wa Nkunda is a Rwandan filmmaker. His 2021 debut feature film, Nameless, won best screenplay at FESPACO, the largest African film festival. He is also a co-curator of a Rwandan filmmaker collective and its ciné-club and teaches screenwriting at various institutions.