Sometimes ago, I was with a friend and we were talking about fashion and some other related issues. During the course of our discourse I told him how I was planning to lock my hair to dread. He looked at me, amazed. He looked at me again as if what I just said was a kind of taboo and out of this world then he laughed at me in mockery and stood up to where he sat and shook his head in pity and said:
“Zoba, Dreadlocks are for Lunatics and hooligans who want to make themselves useless to their family. I don’t think you’ll want all these police men or SARS to start harassing you in the street as if you are a thief or Yahoo boy or something like that. Do you want it that way?” He bent to look into my eyes and then continued “I wonder how your mother or sister will react if they see you on dreadlocks.”
I sat there, mouth opened as I watched him disappeared angrily into the night. I didn’t say anything, I just watched him disappeared angrily. Perhaps, he’s one of those society has bent to believe being on dreadlocks make you a lunatic or a miscreant. Maybe he was one of those people who are still consumed by the fire of discipline from the formal Christianity trends of Thou-Must-be-Holy kind of dressing. He was more concerned about what people would say than what the person in question think about himself or the kind of Fashion he thinks would be better for his kind of person.
However, It normal though to think differently when it comes to fashion but considering the fact you are not comfortable with the way other people are dressed does not make them lunatics or something close to that. Being on dreadlocks to me, does not really make one insane or a miscreant as our society has painted it actually. Although there are these societal discriminations and sentiments associate with those on dread especially in Nigeria. Here, those on dreadlocks are being hunt down by Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS) and others as Yahoo Boys. But dreadlocks does not make one a thief or hooligan. Dreadlocks have a history rooted back to different society and their beliefs.
The history of dreadlocks is varied and differs depending on who you ask and the society you find yourself. Hence, this, then, is a summary and compilation of all the different accounts I was able to locate within my reach. One account claims that dreadlocks originated in India (while most cited Egypt as their birth place) with the dreadlocked deity Shiva and his followers in India. It is likely that this is the spirituality origin of dreadlocks in Indian culture. However, the first archeological proof of people wearing dreadlocks came from Egypt as some account claimed, where mummies have been recovered with their dreadlocks still in tact. However In ancient Egypt, examples of Egyptians wearing locked hairstyles and wigs have appeared on bas-reliefs, statuary and other artifacts. Mummified remains of ancient Egyptians with locked wigs have also been recovered from archaeological sites where they have been archived for a very long time.
Regardless of their origin, dreadlocks have been worn by nearly every culture at some point in time or another. Roman accounts stated that the Celts wore their hair ‘like snakes’. The Germanic tribes and Vikings were also known to wear their hair in dreadlocks. Dreadlocks have been worn by the monks of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Nazarite of Judaism, Qalandri’s Sufi’s, the Sadhu’s of Hinduism, and the Dervishes of Islam, and many more! There are even strong suggestions that many early Christians wore dreadlocks; most notably Samson who was said to have seven locks of hair which gave him his inhuman strength. (Raging Roots Studio)
Meanwhile, Dreadlocks are a universal phenomenon in the East as well as in the West. Spiritualists of all faiths and backgrounds incorporate into their paths a disregard for physical appearances to their members ( followers) and vanity. And so therefore, throughout the world, such seekers or prophets often cease to comb, cut, treat their hair in any form or otherwise dress their hair: This is how “dreadlocks” are born till these days. Leaving your hair for many days, weeks, and months, its tangle together and this, bring about dreadlocks. Dreadlocks does not spring up from lunatics. It doesn’t infuse madness or makes one useless as most society see it today. It is doctinal to some extent in some religions. Some religious bodies see it as dirty or against their doctrines. Some of the earliest depictions of dreadlocks date back as far as 3600 years to the Minoan Civilization one of Europe’s earliest civilizations, centred in Crete which is now part of Greece. Frescoes discovered on the Aegean island of Thera which now modern Santorini, Greece, depict individuals with braided hair styled in long dreadlocks which were kept for reasons rounding their beliefs and faiths. The Old Testament of the Bible recounts the tale of Samson and Delilah in which a man’s potency is directly linked to ‘the seven locks on his head’ and according to Roman accounts, the Celts were described to have ‘hair like snakes’ Germanic tribes, Greeks and the Vikings are all said to have worn dreadlocks too.
Some churches or religion bodies have a lay down doctrinal rules and regulation on what and how their members should dress and how they should look like just like we have members of Deeper life Church and some Lord Chosen members dress, those from Jahovah’s Witness dress differently from those of Christ Embassy. Some of these Pentecostal churches even have ways in which they want their members especially those in Choir, ministerial departments, their Pastors and Ushers to dress. Jehovah’s witness members and Methodist Church members dont dress alike. Just the same way a Deeper Life member dress differently from a Catholic Member. Different religious bodies have different doctrines, views, and principles they follow. However, dressing the way one wants to appear is built from the way he was brought up, Environments, peer groups, or his/her religious beliefs and all. Therefore, the fact you don’t dress like them or you don’t really like the way some set of people dress does not make them hooligans or miscreants. However, how they decide to appear or style their hair should not be something that would bother you as long as they are fine and comfortable with themselves appearing in a such a way.
Rastafarianism, however is something entirely separate. It was born in the 1930s when Ras Tafari was crowned emperor of Ethiopia. When the emperor was forced into exile during an invasion, guerrilla warriors swore not to cut their hair until the emperor was reinstated and they stood on their words and never cut their hairs. The religion resonated with the ideologies of the day, for example socialism, Marxism, and black power. It was therefore, seen as a threat to Christianity and came under attack by the authorities that tried to suppress the ‘Rasta’ movement and imprisoned those who possessed ‘ganja’. They smoked cannabis because they thought it prompted a clearer state of well – being and makes them feel more of themselves. Their dreadlocks were thought to be disgusting, abnormal and frightening, hence the term ‘dread’ which was later reclaimed by the ‘Rasta’ community.
Some of these dreadlocks have their symbols or what they symbolised. Like Rastafari Movement Locks are symbolic of the Lion of Judah which is sometimes centered on the Ethiopian flag. They hold that Haile Selassie is a direct descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, through their son Menelik I. Their dreadlocks were inspired by the Nazarites of the Bible. Prior to the Bronze Age and Iron Age many peoples in the Near East, Asian Minor Caucasus, and North Africa such as the Sumerians, Ancient Egyptians, Ancient Greeks Akkadians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Hittites, Amorites,Mitanni, Hattians, Arameans, Eblaites Isrealites, Phrgians, Lydian,Persians,Parthians, Chaldeans, Armenians, Georgians, Azeris, Cilicians and Canaanites, Phoenicians are depicted in art with braided or plaited hair and beards..
People should not judged based on the lifestyle or Fashion they’ve chosen to live on or how ever they want to pattern their life. Once their appearance suits them and their belief system, they should go with it without being seen as strange people or aliens from another planet. Sometimes what is good for Mr A may likely be wrong for Mr B. We all have our preferences and choices to make based on the kind of person we are and how nature endowment works in our life. The more you work and relate with people and their lifestyle, you’ll understand how they feel when someone tries to judge them based on how they are dressed or their appearances. Fashion is a choice, you create it and live it like a lifestyle. As a cinematographer and video director, I prefer appearing on knickers with my sport shoes than on trouser. Sometimes I prefer leaving my beards and mustaches and I may not have the time to shave or trim my hair because of my work demands.
Have you noticed that most of the video directors in Nigeria are on dreadlocks? From Clarance Peters to Unlimited LA. We have the likes of Director Neil, Stanz Visual and others. They have their reasons. Some of them might not have the luxury of time to go to the salon to have their hair cut and Dreadlocks become an option. Dread is a fashion style, What you believe should suit your kind of person. Many artistes in Nigeria and Abroad are on dreadlocks. This does not make them lunactics. Dreadlocks does not make them hooligans. It is for their self conformity and gratification. For self worth and perception. It is an Art, a perception of who you are and the picture you intend painting to the world out there without having to answer to anyone why you chose to live your life the way you want to live it. Or how you chose to appear the way you appeared. Left to its own devices, hair will naturally knot together and form mats or “dreadlocks”. Upon seeing Dreadlocks, most people think of Bob Marley, Lucky Dube reggae, and Rastafarianism, unaware that the roots of Dreadlocks go back much further, to at least 2500 BCE with the Dreadlocked Vedic deity Shiva and his followers.
People chosing to wear their hair in dreads is their choice and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Some of them are based in spiritual purposes such as suggested above, others because they identify as Rastas, and others simply because they love the look! More importantly than what your reason is, is knowing your reason so that someday when someone asks you WHY you put dreads in your hair you can say without a doubt why you have dreads and what your dreads mean to you and how much importance you put to it.