Even before Chimamanda Adichie first became publicly vocal about the political implications of natural hair, black women across the world have been ditching chemical relaxers to embrace natural or natural-looking hair and finding beauty in their own skin.

African writers in particular are no exception to this trend. In fact chances are that your favorite African female writer has natural hair. Why? Well it’s kind of like when Adichie gets featured on a Beyonce song. You don’t think too much about it. You just accept your luck and enjoy it. We don’t really care why they are all #teamnatural. All we know is that they do it. We’re here for it. And you should be too.

So in the spirit of incurious gratitude and in no particular order, here are some African writers  meeting all of our hair inspo needs and then some:

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 11.49.48 PM

1. Her magnificent mane is just one of the many things to love about Taiye Selasi, the award-winning author of Ghana Must Go. When we’re not re-reading our copies of the novel and waiting not-so-patiently for the next one, we’re wondering who her hair stylist is and hoping she lets his/her name slip, somehow.



2. The only thing we love more than Adichie’s ankara headwraps is when she lets out her soft, gorgeous hair. We believe that writing a whole novel—Americanah—with hair as one of its major themes has earned her the forever title of Natural Hair Queen.


27752353302_fed5499a11_b3. There is a tug of war for attention between her brilliant smile and her envy-invoking hair. Not only does Kopano Matlwa rock her own gorgeous locks, but she also puts beautiful, lush, natural hair on her book covers too! So much yes.


Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 12.09.20 AM4.   Chibundo Unozo was only 21 when she published her first book, The Spider King’s Daughter. With the same boldness and beauty with which she took the world by storm with that book, she wears her own natural hair, creatively exploring a variety of styling options.

Tsitsi2_300dpiAug2011 (2)

4. Tsitsi Dangaremba has worn her hair in dreadlocks since she first changed the game with Nervous Conditions. As we patiently await the last book of the trilogy, we take comfort in her ageless hairstyle.


Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 12.02.39 AM5. Multiple award-winning author Nnedi Okorafor’s thick, long locks are a signature part of her look. We love the extra touch of character she adds with the slight tint.



6. Nobel Prize winning Wole Soyinka’s hair is a cloud of wisdom we are grateful to behold. If this isn’t #goals, we don’t know what is.


Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 12.18.41 AM7. NoViolet Bulowayo’s TWA [teeny weeny afro] is just one more thing to love about the award-winning author of We Need New Names. She proves that regardless of the length, the only thing keeping you back from fabulous hair is your own imagination.


titilope-sonuga-becoming-58. Whether she’s wearing gorgeous waist-length braids or wearing her hair out, or even cropped or shaved, you can always trust spoken word poet Titilope Sonuga to have amazing style. Seriously, always.


9.  Does the fact that her hair looks like a million bucks have anything to do with her landing a million dollar publishing deal for her upcoming novel Behold the Dreamers? She is winning on a lot of different levels, and one of them is definitely her hair.


Author-photo-Chinelo-Okparanta-credit-Kelechi-Okere-e144656376435110. Chinelo Okparanta hair is the perfect complement to her style. The writer of Under the Udala Trees is always doing something new with it, and we love to watch her creativity at work.


yaa-gyasi11. Author of Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi, brings all the trophies home with her thick, jet-black hair. We are loving all the #carefreeblackgirl vibes.


1499551_10152472435156055_234888715_n12. China Unigwe’s wears her hair with the same fearlessness that has brought the world’s attention to her writing. We love it.






Tags: , , ,

About Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle

View all posts by Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle
Tiwaladeoluwa Adekunle is a creative writer and a student of International Studies and English. Some of her work has been published by Shale, Limestone, Indiana Review and Brittle Paper. She is passionate about language, stories and Chipotle, and would almost always rather be writing.

5 Responses to “African Writer Style Guide | 12 Times African Writers Gave Us Major Hair Goals” Subscribe

  1. Keletso 2016/07/04 at 4:50 am #

    Thank you for this :). Because of our African writers,ive been growing my hair natural since 2014.The joy I feel every morning I wake up…

  2. Ebun 2016/07/04 at 9:56 am #

    Titilope Sonuga’s hair is a wig btw.

  3. Zee 2016/07/06 at 5:10 am #

    Oh yah I see the connection between great writing and hair style choice. Not.

  4. Mee 2016/07/06 at 4:39 pm #

    Yawn. I can’t wait for an exceptionally talented “African Writer” with relaxed hair.

  5. Catherine O 2016/07/18 at 6:15 am #

    Awesome piece! Africa writers be representing and inspiring with their writing and their manes! As for some of the comments…well, haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate. it’s what they do! Did the article say you can’t have relaxed hair and be a great writer? No, it didn’t. #teamnatural

Leave a Reply

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


What to Listen to After Reading Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers


Imbolo Imbue’s Behold the Dreamers is one of the most talked about African novels. The novel tells the story of Jende […]

13 ways Nigeria’s Literati Greeted Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize Win | by Olaoluwa Oni


By Swedish consensus, Bob Dylan has “created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” and a literature prize […]

A Little Judgement | by Michael E. Umoh | An African Story


HOW DO YOU SAVE A LIFE? You go out and buy puff-puff. It began like this: I was walking towards […]

Uniben Boy in Berlin | By Oris Aigbokhaevbolo


  I Beset by love, lust, and other forms of collegial companionship at the University of Benin, my friends and […]

A Book About Soups, Sex and Nigerian Taste Buds


Congrats to Yemisi Aribisala! Her essay collection on Nigerian food and culinary culture is set for an October 31 release. […]

Chimamanda Adichie Had a Christian Dior Moment


Head of Dior Maria Grazia Chiuri made a bold statement at her catwalk show in the beautiful gardens of the […]