Must one have Dreads to be Rasta?

Morgan Heritage’s song, ‘You don’t haffi dread to be Rasta’ intensely explains this perception. There is a common belief that if one wears dreadlocks then there is no doubt that they are Rastafarians.Could that be really the case? Does one’s hair define them? Or, is it a prerequisite for Rastafarians to grow dreadlocks or can you be one without them?

Morgan Heritage’s song, ‘You don’t haffi dread to be Rasta’ intensely explains this perception. There is a common belief that if one wears dreadlocks then there is no doubt that they are Rastafarians.

Could that be really the case? Does one’s hair define them? Or, is it a prerequisite for Rastafarians to grow dreadlocks or can you be one without them?

These are a few of the questions that linger in many people’s minds at the mention of Rastafarianism and dreadlocks.             

According to Rasta Leony Ruranganwa, who is a passionate Rastafarian, not everyone that has dreadlocks is a Rastafarian. Women find it cost effective because you don’t have to visit the salon as often as those without them.

“Besides the issue of being cost effective, being a Rasta is an ideology or way of life guided by love and peace so with or without them, you can be a Rasta. It’s just that most Rastafarians have them so people perceive everyone with dreadlocks as a Rasta,” Rasta Leony.  

Ruranganwa however adds that Rastafarians wear them to represent the Lion of Judah which is an important symbol for Rastas.The locks partly define Rastas but one can still be without them and be a Rastafarian.

Metal Mulangira, who is a Rastafarian as well, says that one can indeed be a Rastafarian without dreads by simply following their way of life.

“Rastas neither smoke cigarettes nor drink alcohol. We are meant to be vegetarian. We believe in peace, equal rights, justice and detest discrimination of any sort.

We love and respect Jah.If you abide by this following, I and I can be Rasta,” explains Rasta Mulangira.

Mulangira also notes that they believe that they are all one that is why they say ‘I and I’ and not ‘you and I’. He further mentions that the rest of the world defines them as people that wear locks so if one needs to be easily identified as a Rastafarian, dreadlocks are the way to go.

Abigail Umunyana, wears dreadlocks and says she simply has them because they give you that cool and trendy look but she is a Christian and no Rastafarian.

“Not everyone that has dreadlocks is Rastafarian. Dreadlocks are the in thing and that’s why so many people are wearing them. Most Rastarians do have dreadlocks so I think Rastafarians have to lock their hair in order to be identified as one,” she adds.

Umunyana says it is also a normal hairstyle though dreadlocks could have a deeper meaning for the Rastafarian fraternity.

“It’s therefore hard to identify who is or who isn’t Rasta despite the fact that they are wearing dreadlocks,” she adds.

Morgan Heritage, the reggae legendary group wraps it up perfectly when they say, “It is not a dreadlocks thing but a divine conception of the heart!”

m.kaitesi@yahoo.com

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