Pride Soaring

 

 

 

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), the African 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 Lapala 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 and ondengura neckbands, of the Himba, Namibia, Africa the photo dated: Anneliese Scherz, 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 shipping 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 southwest Ethiopia.
        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 values.
        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 conscious reasons.
        T he Rastafari movement, or Rasta, is a religious movement that accepts
Haile Selassie 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 Tafari Makonnen, the pre-coronation name of Haile Selassie I.
        During the time of King Solomon, Queen
Makeba ruled over the Empire of Sheba, which was made up from the countries today called Ethiopia and Egypt.
        Queen
Makeba 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 Makeba 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 Makeba 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 was
Menelik the First of Ethiopia.
        The ancient Church of St. Mary of Zion is located in northern Ethiopia in
Aksum. 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 Tana Kirkos 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 (enjoyment), artha (practical objectives) and even dharma (duty). The sadhu is solely dedicated to achieving moksha (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.
        Some
sadhus 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 Naga babas carry their swords with them.[citation needed]
        Many
sadhus 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 liberation.
        Kumbh Mela, 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 Kumbh Mela is said to be the largest gathering of human beings for a single purpose on the planet.
        A sadhu's
hair develops the characteristic snake-like matted locks and if these are properly conserved they become the highest mani- festation.
        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 socically 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
Haile Selassie 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 sinew (
eefipa) extensions, Mbalantu of Wambo group, Namibia, Africa
Photo:
M.Schettler, 1940's
 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Respect, Acclaim, Love

Namaste, Praise, Peace

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