Women In Chad Still Practice Thousand-Year-Old Hair Ritual

Members of the Bassara Arab tribe, Izou Tribe and other nomadic women in Chad from the Northern part are known for their thick and lustrous hair.

The hairstyle which according to her historians in the region grows with the help of natural Chébé.

Chébé is an ancient hair care ritual that has been practiced by their ancestors for many years. In the rocky mountains of Chad’s Guéra region, a native plant with rust-hued flower buds called croton gratissimus, known as Chébé, grows in droves. From February to April, its seeds are harvested, then sun-dried, winnowed, and roasted before they are blended into a silky fine powder, as reported in Vogue

women in chad

“Chébé powder is like a cooking recipe,” says Salwa Petersen of Chad’s Gorane (Dazagarè) tribe with a smile. “Everyone has their own way of doing it.”

To prepare the treatment before application, a woman will set out three bowls, one containing water, the second with Chébé powder, and the third with a mix of oils and butter, typically shea butter and sesame oil, says Petersen.

Then, between alternating layers of the water and a blend of oils and kinds of butter, she will spread the Chébé powder through sections of a loved one’s hair – generously, from roots to tips, for maximum moisture – while meticulously braiding the hair into long plaits that trail all the way down the back. “The traditional Chébé powder ritual is an extremely long, time-consuming, and labor-intensive process,” says Petersen. “You need to put aside at least an entire day if you want to follow all the steps.”

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