A few weeks ago, my friend and I decided to attend a church service in Remera. Since the sermon had already started, only a few people, including ushers, were outside. But we could sense that there was some cold, excited feeling among those outside by the stares they directed at my friend. To me, I was just another church-goer.
As we walked the aisles to find ourselves vacant seats, the stares became colder and we could see many pairs of eyes stalking us, my friend in particular. Even the preacher and those religious personages at the pulpit cast a furtive glance towards our direction.
It’s like he had committed a sacrilege by entering the holy house of God with dreadlocks!
So, is wearing dreadlocks against Christian dogmas?
A number of Rastafarians interviewed by this writer aver that dreadlocks have religious roots and it’s only some “fake” Rastafarians who have been spoiling its name.
Felicien Rwema, spotting long dreadlocks, says that “wearing dreadlocks has become a symbol of pride and acceptance of hair in its natural state.”
To Rwema, people who equate dreadlocks and Rastafarianism with drugs, alcohol and sex are just ignorant of the true meaning of the movement.
He says: “I neither smoke nor drink but I’m deeply religious. I started wearing my dreadlocks long after I had gotten saved. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone who wears dreadlocks smokes marijuana, and not everyone who smokes marijuana wears dreadlocks.”
Andrew Habanimana says that King Solomon had dreadlocks and he’s one of the most biblical figures he admires. He adds that just like King Solomon and his harem of girls, he has seen – on several occasions – women turning their heads to admire his dreadlocks but points out that unlike his biblical role model, women are always the last thing on his mind.
He says: “Some people think that we wear dreadlocks to attract women but mine have a religious attachment to them.”
Henry Kabuga, another rasta, says that dreadlocks have always been associated with rebellion and people like him are admired and feared in equal measure.
“I’m neither a rebel nor violent. I’m just a normal human being who has decided to wear his head differently. The most difficult part of having dreadlocks is coping with stigmas attached to wearing them from society. But it’s high time everyone knew that a rasta is the most peaceful person who will never start a fight, however much he’s provoked.”
Pastor Stephen Muramira of a Kycukiro Evangelical Church says that it’s not unchristian to wear dreadlocks and he has no problems with dreadlocked people going to his church. However, he admits he has issues with the kind of attention rastas normally attract whenever they enter the church.