If you are like me, you may love dreads so much although you may be uneasy to try it out. I have been wanting to showcase the beauty of dreads for a while now and I was looking for people with dreadlocks to document i.e take their pictures and tell their stories in a beautiful way. Before I begin to share the story of this people, let’s take a quick glance about a short history of Dreadlocks(DADA)
Dada, as Nigerians call it, is an hairstyle that has deep roots of African history, Nazarite history, and Indian history. It is a style that is ancient and can be dated as far back as 3300 B.C. Dreadlocks have been worn by nearly every culture at some point in time or another.
In the Bible
The Old Testament also recounts the tale of Samson and Delilah in which a man’s strength is directly linked to ‘the seven locks on his head’ whose unsurpassed strength was lost when Delilah cut off his *seven* locks of hair. The Bible in Numbers 6:5 described a Nazarite vow given by God to His People through Moses- “During the entire period of their Nazirite vow, no razor may be used on their head. They must be holy until the period of their dedication to the Lord is over; they must let their hair grow long.
The oldest documented examples of dreadlocks come from Egypt, with Tutankhamun and other rulers. His mummy still wears the dreadlocks, more than 3,300 years later. There are also plenty of illustrations that prove signified a high social status. Many considered dreadlocks attractive in the Egyptian culture.
Various African ethnic groups wear dreadlocks of different styles. Across cultures they mirror social status or certain talents. Warriors of the Maasai tribe, for example, wear long, thin, red locks of hair. In other cultures, shamans keep their long, in locks, to distinguish themselves. Some Nigerian children are born with natural locks of hair and are called Dada. Priests from the Yoruba culture wear dreadlocks.
The Aztecs in Central America only considered high ranking priests worthy of this hairstyle. Once a man entered the priesthood, his head was shaved. The longer the locks of hair, the more experienced and powerful the priest.
A Child born with natural dreadlocked hair is called a Dada. In Igboland, the Igbo version of the name translates “Childking” in English. These children are believed to be divine and metaphysical powers are attached to their hair. The hair is not to be touched except by the mother and it is not to be cut except some certain special rites are done before they can be cut or else it is believed the child would die after some days.
Civilization occurred and most people don’t really follow these beliefs like before. Dreads are kept without any spiritual attachment to it and people who are not born with dreads grow it now. In Nigeria, most people frown at people with dreads. Men with dreads are believed to be Hooligans, drug addicts or criminals while women wit dreads are believed to be prostitutes which is very wrong. It’s not seen as something official to carry to work or a style to wear at Senior secondary school or University. Its getting a bit more better now although the stereotype related with it is still very much there.
The first person I got to document is Mr Ayotunde Junior. He is a business man married with children. I met him in the bus last year. After so many ted talk to myself, I finally braced up courage and walked up to him when we alighted to ask if I could take some shots of him. He was carrying his daughter and was with his wife. He explained to his wife and when she agreed, we looked for a good spot and took the shots. He was so glad when he got to know the reason why I was doing the documentary was to portray dreadlocks in a good way in the media. He was so joyful and gave me his Instagram contact saying I could send the pictures to him, tag him and reach him later if I needed more shots. Here was a man who was firstly reluctant on allowing me take his pictures and told me to take only pictures of his dreads not his face which I tried my best to do.
The second person I got to document is a Dada from birth. He is a musician and he reminds me of Bob Marley for real. He has dreads that should be longer than 22 inches and has the physique of a Rasta singer but his demeanour was cool and soft. He is the Lead Gospel Singer in his own Music band and the Lead Guitarist also. A University Graduate(Course of which I know not of); 24 years of age and full of good vibes.
The Third person is a young boy whom I don’t really know so much about. I met him at a Christian Medical Outreach. He saw me with my Camera and kept on insisting that I must have a personal photo shoot session with me. He is 8 years old and a dada from birth also.
The fourth person is a lady who reached out to me when she saw my first post about my Dada documentary shots on Instagram and I wrote about my desire to shoot people with dreadlocks and thereby show forth the beauty of Dada. Her name is Olamide Adesina, also popularly called The Dada Girl. She has been keeping her dreads for like 3 years now and it has grown so beautifully. She is a Graduate of Accounting but works as a Content Creator and Yoga instructor. I loved shooting her. It was one of my favourite shoots. You can check her out on instagram ‘@thedadagirl
Every person with dreads is not a smoker who listens to Reggae music, contrary to popular (and foolish) belief. Similarly, you don’t have to be Rasta to wear locs and not wearing locs certainly doesn’t make someone less Rasta. Locs are not dirty, and they’re not something that should be feared. They’re beautiful, bold and regal. The epitome of freedom. Locs are divine.