To India Arie, apparently, people are their hair. People are judged by how they wear their hair. In Africa wearing dreadlocks is one of the most natural things given the type of hair texture God gave us.
But for whatever reason, dreadlocks have been seen as not socially acceptable, and people wearing them are deemed not to comply to the social norms. Such is the case of a family from Kenya’s biggest slum Kibra who have a daughter set to join high school.
The girl was admitted to the Olympic High School, in Nairobi. However, the school turned her away because she was wearing dreadlock. Now, if you know anything about dreadlock, it is that for most people it takes a lot of time (years and years) to grow to an arm’s length.
Olympic High wants the girl to cut her dreadlock, the one she has been ‘nurturing’ for years and years for her to be admitted to the school. The girl comes from a staunch Rastafarian family and considers herself one too.
That means she loves the hairstyle, but for Rastafarians, it is more than just a hairstyle. It is more like a sacred religious symbol. So definitely the girl, if she must cut her hair short, will embark on growing it back after four years of high school. No doubt a painful and unfair turn of events especially when you think about all the years she has been nurturing that dreadlock.
Here is a feature by one of the local stations on the girl’s story.
The mark of Colonization 50+ Years later
The notion that dreadlock is not acceptable seems to be perpetuated by the formal education system left by the British colonial masters. They set strict code of dressing for their schools, and when Kenya got its independence, the school continued running with the regulations by the colonialists.
As you can imagine, the colonialists viewed everything they came with better, and a good part of what the natives had as unacceptable. Well for the natives, wearing dreadlock is one of the most natural things they can do with their hair. Left alone, it coils around starting to form a dreadlock.
It is high time African governments abolish white man set standards in the formal sectors totally, and incorporate cultural norms for the natives.