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Ivorian braider wins hair salon

By John James
BBC News, Abidjan

Esther Valerie Broci Yaba (left) with the model fashioning her winning hair style
It often takes hours to create even the simplest styles

A hair braider in Ivory Coast says she is delighted to have won her own hair salon in a hair braiding contest.

Esther Valerie Broci Yaba won the Koundan 2008 competition from among more than 5,000 hair braiders in the main Ivorian city of Abidjan.

"This has really changed my life. It's incredible, fantastic," she said.

Her design of coils, spirals and branches, which shot out in almost every direction, took 90 minutes to create and was named "The Renaissance".

Braiding is an important part of African heritage and we don't take enough time to appreciate our own culture
Gnamien Konan
Guest of honour at Koundan contest
"It was to contribute something to my country which is just leaving behind a crisis," she said, referring to the recent civil war.

Most of hair braiders in Abidjan work informally in small roadside boutiques or travelling from court yard to court yard.

It often takes hours to create even the simplest styles using little more than bare hands, needles and a pair of scissors.

"Braiding is an important part of African heritage and we don't take enough time to appreciate our own culture," said Gnamien Konan, the guest of honour at the weekend competition at the Palace of Culture.

The 18 finalists had created towering hair styles, spiked trees carrying tomatoes, silver baubles as big as grapefruits and multi-coloured spirals.

Last year, in the inaugural competition, the winner braided a map of Africa.

This year one candidate created the map of Ivory Coast which floated several inches off the model's head.

But when it came to the speed, matched with the clothes, originality and authenticity it was Esther Valerie Broci Yaba's creation that most impressed the judges.

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SEE ALSO
Country profile: Ivory Coast
05 Nov 08 |  Country profiles


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