Think about Rastafari and you’ll immediately conjure images of swirling dreadlocks. Charismatic reggae master Bob Marley is arguably the most influential Rasta in history. Many black people, including in Uganda, have since fashioned their hair into the long coiled dreadlocks, as worn by Marley and wearing clothes in the colours of yellow and red, usually with the addition of black.
Rasta Innocent, a 28 year old resident of Lubaga, a Kampala Suburb recounts the moment six years ago when he undertook a bold step to grow dreadlocks.
“I decided to grow my hair not as a Rasta but as a style and because I loved long hair. Six years ago, I started to search for the meaning of being a Rastafarian. When I discovered the meaning, I decided to become a Rasta,” recounts Innocent.
According to Innocent, “being a Rasta is understanding and knowing who you are, not what you have been told by others”. Rastafarians believe in humanity, love, nature, and above all we believe that a black man is the source of every human race in the entire world, he adds.
Innocent grew up listening to reggae music. “I did not understand the message at the time until I started listening to people like Bob Marley, Culture, Buju Banton, Peter Tush, that is when I started to know that there is a lot of stories that were told about Africans that where a total lie”.
Innocent’s zeal to grow dreadlocks faced a challenge, from within his family, friends and the public perception. Even costing him a relationship.
“I was dating a girl, and one day, I went to attend her birth day. She introduced everyone that was in attendance apart from me. When I latter asked her, she told me that as a law student, she cannot introduce me to her friends because I had dreadlocks. That was the last time I made contact with her,” Rasta Innocent adds.
The incident however strengthened his resolve. “It encouraged me to find more about the true meaning of being a Rastafarian. The hardest part is having the courage to look different from other people”.
Growing hair into dreadlocks is not an easy venture. People use different methods to grow the dreadlocks, from traditional to saloon accosted means.
Rasta Innocent found it a simple task because according to him, it’s only the African hair that can form dreadlocks without treatment from a hair stylist. As you grow the dreadlocks, the other challenge is hygienically maintaining.
“Now that it’s on, it feels like I have had it forever!! I cant imagine myself without it because it is part of my identity now”, he reveals, face beaming.
Rasta and Dreadlocks
Some Rastafarian movements believe the dreadlocks are required as stated in the book of Leviticus 21:5. Which says that, "They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in the flesh”.
The other basis Rastafarian use for growing dreadlocks in the Nazirite law in Numbers 6:5, "All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow."