Located on South America’s northwestern tip, Colombia is a country with a deep and rich history. Like so many colonized countries, despite gaining independence from Spain more than 200 years ago, the residue of oppression is still woven into many parts of the country’s culture.
In America, the idea of a Black women’s hair alone is laden with social and political implications. The same goes for many women in Spanish-speaking countries such as Colombia. Long, pin-straight hair has been the standard of beauty to which Black women are held.
However, the people of Colombia have found a beautiful way to pay homage to their African roots. Each year on May 21st, people celebrate the abolition of slavery in Colombia and a number of Afro-Colombia host a hairstyling contest called Knitting Hope in Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia.
This celebration and contest not only brings attention to the tradition of braiding hair, which dates back to the time of slavery and beyond, but serves as a way to proudly show off Colombia’s rich hair history. In the clip below, braiders are seen creating intricate styles that resemble true art. The twists, locs and braids are truly stunning.
If you’re thinking about visiting Colombia during May, seeing Knitting Hope might be a worth your while!