The Kings of the four seasons by Marcella Muhammad
The Genesis History of Dreadlocks
The Namib Desert in Namibia is considered the world's
oldest desert. It covers more than 102,248 square miles (270,000 square
kilometers) of the southwestern edge of the African continent. It also has the
distinction of having the highest sand dunes in the world. Some of them rise to
more than 1,300 feet (400 meters). Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia,
is a country in southern Africa on the Atlantic coast. It shares borders with
Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east, and South Africa to the
south. It gained independence from South Africa in 1990 and its capital city is
Windhoek (German: Windhuk). Namibia is a member state of the United Nations
(UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC),
Union (AU), and the Commonwealth of Nations.
Finding Afrocentric data is at best
very unattainable. With agenda focus bias history in play with any working
modern history; at best you only can work through deduction of what you have
access to. Bushmen of the region had an advanced early culture, evidenced by
archaeological data. For example, Bushmen from the Botswana region migrated
south to the Waterberg
Massif in the era 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. They left rock paintings at the
Wilderness area and Goudriver
recording their life and times, including characterizations of rhinoceros,
elephant and a variety of antelope species (resembling impala, kudu and eland,
all present day inhabitants).
It is imperative to try to establish
time lines for the reason to project forward. I find myself in constant rage as
I try to find information on my people and read things like: “thieving and
murderous, dirty, and of a low type; but their chiefs were more or less highly
bred. These people seldom die natural deaths; many are killed when fighting,
many are murdered, and sick persons are as a rule smothered by their relatives.”
This is how a well know data source describes the animalistic savages of Africa.
This coming from Criminal festered heathens who choice to enslave fellow human
beings! Not to digress into a tyrant, it is safe to say that the African People
who occupied the world’s oldest desert were of substance and prowess.
From the deserts of Namibia comes the
Himba People. The Himba are an ethnic group of about 20,000 to 50,000 people,
living in northern Namibia, in the Kunene region (formerly Kaokoland). They are
a nomadic, pastoral people, closely related to the Herero, and speak the same
language. Finding true historical data, again, is very difficult without bias
negativity and biased opinion. With that in mind the Himba breed cattle and
goats. The responsibility of milking the cows lies with the women. Women take
care of the children, and one woman will take care of another woman's children.
Women tend to perform more labor-intensive work than men do, such as carrying
water to the village and building homes.
The Himba wear little clothing, but the women are famous for covering themselves
with a mixture of butter fat, ochre, and herbs to protect themselves from the
sun. The mixture gives their skins a reddish tinge. The mixture symbolizes
earth's rich red color and the blood that symbolizes life. Women braid each
others hair and cover it in their ochre mixture.
Looking at the style of hair this
ancient culture of civilized African People, it is very noticeable of the
locks/dreads they have in their hair. Today these Beautiful Black People still
wear their hair in a fashion carried down from thousands of years. I personal
find these Beautiful Black Queens extremely attractive. It is hard to find the
beginnings of the locked hair but we, including the White world have accepted
the fact that all mankind evolved from Africa. The fact that we find this hair
style a negative form of expression and ugly is just another form of self hatred
brought about from other communities. Those same communities that write world
history in a slanted, biased, condemnatory self preserving manner. One of my
absolute destinations I must visit when I take my pilgrimage to Africa.
I started my story with Namibia
because I couldn’t think of a better place to start with the history of the
dreadlock or the style most define as dreadlocks. I feel compelled to bring
forth this information because of a Beautiful Black Queen named Yvonne who
operates as a Loctician Stylist @ Locs
For Life, in Chicago. I have to admit that I didn’t give much thought to
dreadlocks prior to her referring to locking your hair as a journey. Just like
most stick up the butt so called educated conservative Black buppies I too had a
misconception of dreadlocks. Aside from Bob Marley and my knowing the Jamaican
culture adorned dreads I didn’t know much more. I wasn’t guilty of
thinking that Ganja (marijuana), the herb of inspiration and dreads were one in
the same as many folk do.
As a stuck up buppie, I did have the
idea of dreads as being dirty tangled matted filth. I also was lulled into the
belief that the style didn’t represent me or my culture. Of course every stigma,
stereotype, and superficial concept of locking hair is not only far from truth
but extremely degrading to our history. At the right is a young Black Boy with
plait and with ozondato
neckbands, of the Himba, Namibia, Africa the photo dated: AnnelieseScherz,
1940's and you can’t help to notice the resemblance to the Pharaoh Braid worn by
young Egyptian Royalty.
For ancient Egyptians, appearance was an important issue. Appearance indicated a
person’s status, role in a society or political significance. Egyptian
hairstyles and our hairstyles today have many things in common. Like modern
hairstyles Egyptian hairstyles varied with age, gender and social status.
Children had unique hairstyles in
ancient Egypt. Their hair was shaved off or cut short except for a long lock of
hair left on the side of the head, the so-called side-lock of youth. This
s-shaped lock was depicted by the hieroglyphic symbol of a child or youth. Both
girls and boys wore this style until the onset of puberty. Young boys often
shaved their heads, while young girls wore their hair in plaits or sometimes did
up their hair in a ponytail style, hanging down the center of the back. Young
girl dancers used to wear long thick braided ponytails. The edge of the tail was
either naturally curled or was enhanced to do so. If the ponytail was not curled
at the end, it was weighted down by adornments or metal discs.
Women's hairstyles were more unique
than those of men. Women generally preferred a smooth, close coiffure, a natural
wave and long curl. This method was achieved by weaving individual strands
together. This long and tedious process was afforded to by the wealthiest.
Egyptians threaded gold tubes on each tress, or strung inlaid gold rosettes
between vertical ribs of small beads to form full head covers. If you think
getting your hair loc’ed
today is time consuming and of course costly think how long it took to take
strains individually and weave and loc with gold and beads.
The look of loc’ed
hair was so desirable and regally preferred that the Egyptians chose to shave
their heads and adorn wigs. In ancient Egypt, men and women used to shave their
heads bald replacing their natural hair with wigs. Egyptian women did not walk
around showing their bald heads, they always wore the wigs. Head shaving had a
number of benefits. First, removing their hair made it much more comfortable in
the hot Egyptian climate. Second, it was easy to maintain a high degree of
cleanliness avoiding danger of lice infestation. Considering the timely process
it took to loc hair and maintain its majesties, it was also a good reason to
shave heads. This allowed others to create the desired fantastic loc’ed
hair with time and care without hovering over someone’s head. In addition,
people wore wigs when their natural hair was gone due to old age. However, even
though the Egyptians shaved their heads, they did not think the bald look was
preferable to having hair.
From Namibia to Egypt is around three
thousand plus miles. The history of Africa of which is not properly taught in
the Western world is that the cultures migrated from south to north. Most folks
don’t know that Slavery germinated from the northern west coast of Africa. Black
communities, not uncivilized tribes, in the south were for the most part were
devoid of that horrendous savage act because it took longer for the European
tribes to find
lanes to the south.
Between Namibia to Egypt you will
find a vast history of hair styles from braids to loc’s
to hair pigment changing. Personal grooming and decoration are valued. The Dinka
rub their bodies with oil made by boiling butter. They cut decorative designs
into their skin. They remove some teeth for beauty and wear dung ash to repel
mosquitoes. Men dye their hair red with cow urine, while women shave their hair
and eyebrows, but leave a knot of hair on top of the head. The Dinka are a group
of several closely related peoples living in southern Sudan along both sides of
the White Nile. They cover a wide area along the many streams and small rivers,
concentrated in the Upper Nile province in southeast Sudan and across into
From the oldest desert on the planet
which would arguably then constitute the oldest culture, to the Sudan up to
Egypt to the east coast of Africa the style of locking hair is very well
documented. It denotes royalty and locked hair has been a symbol of a highly
spiritual person who is trying to come closer to God(s).
This brings me to the point of departure from the continent of Africa to the
rest of the world.
New-generation Rastafarians will tell
you that the culture of locked hair came, originally, from Africa, but any
knowledge beyond the continent that locks came from is unknown. Where
old-generation Rastafarians hold great pride in their natural hair and see it as
a symbol of their fight against Babylon, non-violence, non-conformity,
communalism and solidarity, and as a heavy spiritual statement, many
new-generation Rastas see their dreads as a passport to smoking ganja and
listening to Reggae music, not understanding the real Rastafarian culture and
Where Rastafarians once shunned
everything from Babylon, such as soda, alcohol and cigarettes, modern Rastas are
often seen smoking, wearing designer clothing, eating meat and drinking beer.
Wearing your hair naturally has become more of a status symbol than a spiritual
decision, and people begin locking their hair so that they are seen as
conscious, afrocentric, or different, rather than for honest spiritual and
T he Rastafari movement, or Rasta, is
a religious movement that accepts HaileSelassie
I, the former Emperor of Ethiopia, as God incarnate, whom they call Jah.
He is also seen as part of the Holy Trinity as the messiah promised in the Bible
to return. The name Rastafari comes from Ras
(literally "Head," an Ethiopian title equivalent to Duke), and TafariMakonnen,
the pre-coronation name of HaileSelassie
During the time of King Solomon,
ruled over the Empire of Sheba, which was made up from the countries today
called Ethiopia and Egypt.
visited Solomon in Jerusalem and converted to the God of Abraham. When she
returned to her land she changed its religion to Judaism. King Solomon and Queen
were lovers and he made her pregnant. Queen Makeba
promised Solomon that if she bore a son she would allow him to raise it. Queen
did have a son who was sent to Jerusalem to be raised by his father.
The son Menelik
did however promise his mother that he would return when she dies to succeed
her. When the Queen eventually died her son fulfilled his promise and returned
to rule. His father, King Solomon made sure that his son brought all the sons of
his priests with him in order for the religion of Abraham to continue in Sheba.
Ethiopia was later converted to
Christianity when Paul the Apostle converted an Ethiopian high rabbi of Orthodox
Judaism. Most folks are not aware of this tidbit of information but the arch of
the covenant is said to be protected by priest in a cave in northern Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian monarch is the oldest
continuous monarchy in history. It began with the Queen of Sheba. She and King
Solomon of Israel had a son who
the First of Ethiopia.
The ancient Church of St. Mary of
Zion is located in northern Ethiopia in Aksum.
is the same city the Queen of Sheba is from. Deep below this church is a maze of
underground passages. These tunnels have been protected by priestly guards of
the ancient Ethiopian Jewish monarchy. Only the highest priests and the Emperor
can enter deep within these tunnels. The secret Holy of Holies Room is located
within the innermost rings. Ethiopians claim that the Ark of the Covenant has
lain within this tunnel for thousands of years. Only one person--the Guardian of
the Ark can enter into the actual Holy of Holies Room. Chosen at the age of
seven, this Guardian guards over the Ark for the rest of his life--never seeing
the light of day. Ethiopian history says that before it was moved to the tunnels
beneath St. Mary's of Zion that it was housed in a tent for 800 years (4th
century BC to 4th century AD) on the island of TanaKirkos
on Lake Tana
in northern Ethiopia.
Jamaica was claimed for Spain after Christopher Columbus first landed there in
1494. The English Admiral William Penn (father of William Penn of Pennsylvania)
and General Venables
seized the island in 1655. During its first 200 years of English (then British)
rule, post Spanish rule, Jamaica became one of the world's leading sugar
exporting nations and produced over 77,000 tons of sugar annually between 1820
and 1824, which was achieved through the massive use of imported African slave
labor. Spain brought the first African slaves to Jamaica in 1517. This is how
dreadlock came across the Alantic.
The migration of the locked hair does
not end with the Black
culture for it is well documented that the migration of mankind from Africa
first led through Asia. In Hinduism, sadhu is a common term for an ascetic or
practitioner of yoga (yogi) who has given up pursuit of the first three Hindu
goals of life: kama
(practical objectives) and even dharma (duty). The sadhu is solely dedicated to
(liberation) through meditation and contemplation of God. Sadhus
often wear ochre-colored clothing, symbolizing renunciation.
The ruggedness of the sadhu life
deters many from following the sadhu path. Such practices as the obligatory
early morning bath in the cold mountains require a detachment from common
luxuries. After the bath, sadhus
gather around the dhuni,
or holy fireplace, and begin with their prayers and meditation for the day.
dispense cures to the local community, remove evil eyes or bless a marriage.
They are a walking reminder to the average Hindu of Divinity. They are generally
allowed free passage on the trains and are a closely-knit organization. Some
were even militant in the old days, and even now, the Nagababas
carry their swords with
have entered the Guinness World Records for feats of marathon endurance
including standing for 17 years, staying in the same place for more than two
decades, crawling 1400 km and other similar efforts, in their quest to attain
a mass gathering of sadhus
from all parts of India, takes place every six years at one of four points along
sacred rivers in India, including the holy River Ganges. Sadhus
of all sects join in this reunion. Millions of non-sadhu pilgrims also attend
the festivals, and the KumbhMela
is said to be the largest gathering of human beings for a single purpose on the
hair develops the characteristic snake-like matted locks and if these are
properly conserved they become the highest mani-
With this journey of the history just
beginning it is clear to see the history is far more than refer smoking dirty
haired people. That often times is the picture drawn when one thinks of
dreads. My finding Yvonne of Locs
for Life and her defining process of locking your hair as being a freeing
journey, opened my eyes and I too have embarked on the journey. I must state it
is an ever freeing journey indeed. As I write this my locs
are nearly three years young.
I was in a near fatal car accident of
which I broke every bone below my hips and I also broke my C-3 which is the same
bone in the neck that Christopher Reeves broke. The accident happened near the
Ides of March 2003. Ironically and not by conscience design I embarked on my
journey near the Ides of March 2005. This is after I recovered from my accident
and returned to the rat race. I should have been killed, disfigured or at best
paralyzed from the accident but I suffered none of that.
Initially my choice of placing my
hair into locks was not for spiritual or reasons of enlightenment but rather out
of gratitude. While in the hospital me ex-son-in-law called me every day
offering me encouragement and providing me great strength. Kevin was a young man
who by choice wore his hair in
loc’s and received ostracizing
and within his family. Out of gratitude to him I chose, while recovering and
with a halo screwed into my skull, to start braiding my hair with the design to
lock it after getting away from medical care.
Unfortunately because of the
resulting divorce from his mother I loss contact with Kevin and thus he has not
seen my main of gratitude. I never a less continued to proceed with the journey.
This journey of edification, education epiphany engrossed me. I see how I am
prejudged. The entire world had a different visualization.
Louis: "That morning
I was not yet a vampire, and I saw my last sunrise. I remember it completely,
and yet I can't recall any sunrise before it. I watched its whole magnificence
for the last time as if it were the first. And then I said farewell to sun
light, and set out to become what I became." ~ Interview with the Vampire
That quote from Interview with a
Vampire best describes the journey I am on. There is so much I could discuss and
so much I have learned. I don’t wish to indulge in that at this time. I do
assure you though, it is a journey.
Finally I wish to point out one last
thing. I have herd some people hold contempt for the word dreadlocks. Somehow
the majority has once again taken your pride in that what is yours. In Jamaica
the term dreadlocks was first recorded in the 1950s as a derogatory term when
the "Young Black Faith", an early sect of the Rastafari which began among the
marginalized poor of Jamaica in the 1930s, ceased to copy the particular hair
style of HaileSelassie
I of Ethiopia and began to wear locks instead. It was said that they looked
'dreadful' with their locks, which gave birth to the modern name 'dreadlocks'
for this ancient style. Different theories exist about the origin of Rastalocks.
Some sources trace Rastalocks
back to Indians who arrived in Jamaica to work as indentured laborers in the
late 19th century, some of whom were among the first followers of Leonard
Howell. Others believe the first Rasta dreadlocks were derived from the "dreaded
locks" of the Mau Mau largely Kikuyu protonationalist
insurgency against British colonialism in 1940s Kenya.
However the term was coined, I
embrace the term Dreadlock as I embrace being Black and Proud and not African
American. With that in mind we now have diversity in the defining of locks.
There are Dreadlocks which is hair matting on its own. One lock can have
different branches. There is the braid lock, the twist lock, the sister lock,
the silky lock all of which requires the manipulating of the hair to achieve the
Loc. That’s right there is also the Loc and the lock?
Two women whose braids have been lengthened to their ankles through the use of
group, Namibia, Africa