Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

Rwanda: These Days, Dreadlocks Are for Convenience

The emergence of dreadlocks in the mainstream, for both men and women and even children, is only a recent phenomenon. Not so long ago, they were the sole reserve of Rastafarians and artists, especially reggae musicians.

Even today, dreadlocks still have a negative connotation for many people, who find they look dirty and suspect those sporting the hairstyle are drugs users. That is a misconception, though, because these days even ordinary people opt to have dreadlocks, and sometimes even for very simple reasons. "In our time, we looked at people with dreadlocks as losers," says one woman. "But now, it seems some women choose to have them because it is easy to maintain and cost effective."

That is how simple it is indeed: some women go for dreadlocks because it saves a few visits to the hairdresser. "I have had my dreadlocks for a year now and I have no regrets. But I can't have one style all the time, so I try out different ones - I could let it loose, make a puff, ... It's fun," says Anita.

Aline, a fashion designer, has some reservations though, saying that dreadlocks look good only on some people. But when they do, she says, it has the advantage of keeping the hair strong because you have to apply less chemicals, especially for women.

And 55-year-old Musoni says that while in general he disapproves of dreadlocks because he thinks they look dirty, although he adds that it can be acceptable for younger people. "But imagine a man of my age having dreadlocks - it is like I want to be a teenager again. It simply looks inappropriate."

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