The Dread Nation

Conformity is the sole purpose of all governing systems, be it religious, social or political. Irrespective of your allegiance, pragmatism; logical thinking should steer your decisions more than preconceived notions that have been passed down generations to lure you into the conformity cocoon. 

The dread nation idea arose from my interaction with a few pals of mine who have dreadlocks. I cannot substantiate the reason as to why they decided to have dreadlocks but I can attest to the discrimination that they receive by being Rasta Men. And so, I decided to have a pragmatic discussion with you my dear reader about dreadlocks via this article. I hope at the end of this write up, you will see the light that will lead you out of the conformity cocoon. 

Origin of dreadlocks can be dated back over 2000 years ago. The ancient Vedic scriptures of India had the earliest evidence of dreadlocks which were exclusively worn by holy men and was part of their religious practice. The same can be traced to ancient Greece and Egypt. Mummified remains of ancient Egyptians with dreadlocks have been recovered by archeologists. Locks were also worn by ancient Christians in the Middle East and Mediterranean. Locks have been in existence since time immemorial.

The most common association of dreadlocks is to the Rastafari culture. Locks are a symbol of the Lion of Judah. The Rastafarians give homage to Haile Selassie who they claim is a direct descendant of King Solomon and Queen of Sheba. Rastafarian dreadlocks can be traced back to the Nazarites in the bible who did not cut their hair. The growing of dreadlocks by Rastafarians cemented the connection between the culture and its ideological principles but you can be a Rastafarian without dreadlocks as long as you hold the Rastafarian ideology true.

Culturally, dreadlocks have been worn as a fashion statement and also as a symbol of rebellion. Following the popularity of reggae music in the 1970’s and acceptance of the culture, dreadlocks have been worn as a fashion statement. Dreadlocks have also been used as symbols of rebellion. For example in Kenya, the MAU MAU wore dreadlocks as a symbol of rebellion to colonialism. 

So much for history, what is your perspective towards dreadlocks? Like most conformers, I believe that most of you my readers associate dreadlocks to poverty, hooliganism, bhang smoking and backward societal behaviors. Whereas this may be the case for some of the dread nation members, it does not represent the entire population and furthermore, in any kind of gathering, there are always outliers. For example, Islam has been used to justifying terrorism while Islam is a peaceful religion. 

The greatest misconception about dreadlocks for most Kenyans has not arisen from pragmatism but from fear which can be traced back to the colonial era. Colonialists associated any Kenyan with dreadlocks as part of the rebellion against colonial power. With such an association, dreadlocks were linked with anti-government ideological concepts which did not end when the colonialists left. It can be clearly seen today by the behavior of the police force towards individuals with dreadlocks and also you my dear reader. Police view locks as a gateway to criminal activity and the society gobbles up that notion. It is extremely hypocritical for Kenya as a nation to shun dreadlocks whereas our independence was brought about by persons who wore dreadlocks. 

Then what can we conclude about this matter? Just like any other conformity group, be it religious, social or political, keeping dreadlocks is not an anti government or anti society statement but a way of life. It is a matter of the heart. Discriminating people with dreadlocks is just like being racist. Outward appearance has nothing to do with the inward ability or inability of an individual.So next time you meet a brother with dreads, be open minded and free yourself from the conformity cocoon.

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