Dreadlocks or not?
Once dreadlocks were a religious symbol part of a culture, some would have them as a sign of protest, of advocacy, and of ethnic recognition. Nowadays this hairstyle has been popularized by the Jamaican Rastafarians. Members of the Rastafari movement wear dreadlocks to emphasize their belonging to their cultural identity. Dreadlocks are considered to be the oldest hairstyle in the world.
For a long time, wearing dreadlocks was a way to express one self as tolerant, resistant and rebellious. Reggae fans were among the most numerous to wear this hairstyle. The fashion and hip hop movement have also embraced the look.
Today, wearing dreadlocks is above all an aesthetic choice, like having a afro, cornrows, weaves, and so on…Wearing dreads has spread among black girls: it is a matter of reclaiming one’s identity by stopping straightening and weaving, and embracing the natural texture of one’s hair.
Between the 70s and the 90s, it was not easy for a young African to have dreadlocks. It raised suspicions, immaturity, idleness, lack of hygiene. It had a negative connation that was attached to all the stereoptypes that came with the hairstyle. In the 2000s dreadlocks evolve into a fashionable hairstyle for all.Dreads are now seen in schools as well as inworkplaces, as highlighted by Andrée Zengue Ndoundou, young Administrative and Human Resources Executive Director, at Weatherford Company in Port-Gentil in Gabon. Andrée: I hold my dreadlocks, it looks like a normal hairstyle and I get no negative comments on it. On the other hand, when they were still very short, I remember attending a meeting where other HREDs and local authorities were invited, a company ED told me laughingly: "you and your dreadlocks, to hire people you will require them to have dreadlocks as well”, other than that, they were well received. I went reconciliation attempt at the Labor inspection, I was most welcomed. The outfit also plays its part. I wear suits and heels, jewelries, so with my hairstyle, everything goes very well, I have no demeaning comments. It is the same for students, today, young women and men wear their dreadlocks without worrying about the disapproving look from society. They are aware of the disadvantage it can be. Should we judge a student or recruit an employee according to his / her hairstyle? The answer is no. But unfortunately depending on the countries, the environments or the openness of the interlocutors the answer varies.
I still remember one of my friends wanted to renew his passport in a sub-Saharan African country, had to shave his head. Attendants refused to take photos of individuals with dreadlocks.