Nowadays, a married woman can decide to shave her hair like Manu Dibango without even asking her husband. She can even decide to tint them if she wants to. But, it was different in the past. “Indeed, we bassa’a women had to seek our husband’s approval before cutting our hair”, Monique Ngomb, a 73-year old widow, explains.
In fact, it was at the husband’s death that a woman could shave her head. She had to keep the hair and always keep them nicely to please the husband.
Some people like O. Matip in his forties still respect this tradition. “If my partner-we are not yet legally married- cuts her hair without seeking my approval, she will have to offer a rooster and a bunch of plantains to beg for my forgiveness”, he declared in all seriousness while the partner was nearby.