Behold the Himba
And it's not the topless factor. Countless tribes go topless, if not fully naked, in Africa. That's what you do when it's ridiculously warm where you are. My father told me stories of his travels to one of the northernmost villages in the Cameroons where it was 102 degrees in the shade...on a good day. The people went naked. I mean, they wore their makeup and ornaments and such, but no clothes. My father, of course, is a Cameroonian Highlander; in our Northwest Province, it really can get cold sometimes. He hadn't gone naked since early childhood, and couldn't bear to part with his clothes. Nor could the European student he was traveling with. He said the villagers remained very polite to them, never pressuring them to undress, even if it was for their own good. Later he found out it was because they believed he and his friend had some sort of skin disease they were ashamed of, hence their "hiding behind clothing".
But I digress.
Back to the Himba...there are no more than 50,000 of them (they survived attempted genocide at the hands of the Germans). They are nomadic, but they control their lands. To accommodate their way of life, the Namibian government has created "mobile schools" to move with them and ensure their progeny is literate (take notes, America...).
And about the hairstyles...for the Himba, they represent the different stages of a woman's life. They're also natural. That's hair growing long from twisting and constant conditioning, ladies. The Himba tend to the reject the so-called modern world, so they don't do that relaxing nonsense. And their hair grows long.
One more thing about reddening; I noted the red dusting on a Maasai woman's face in the last post, and I mentioned here that it's done all across the continent. Not everyone does it the same way, of course. The oldest known dye to come from a wood, for example, hails from the West African camwood tree (also known as African sandalwood). Some folks in West Africa dust themselves with it, usually after oiling themselves first. It features heavily in folklore; I remember reading stories about how Tortoise wanted a wife, so to make himself attractive "he bathed, oiled his skin, and dusted himself in red camwood..." (chuckles...the things you find amusing as a kid).
Depending on the region, red clay is used. The Maasai, for example, use a red clay which softens the hair and deep cleanses the skin. Rhassoul clay from Morocco does the same thing. If you search hard and long enough, you will find some of these items on the net. They might not be cheap though!
Black Girl with Long Hair
Story of the Red
Nous sommes très belles