Kigali — Dreadlocks are perceived as a hair style for the Rastafarians. It is also linked with a bad reputation surrounded by drugs and crime. However to those who explore the culture or live it, there is more to tell. Josette Komezusenge a 45-year-old woman shades more light to the Rastafarian culture.
She said dreadlocks can be styled depending on the a persons preference. It is possible to add colour, and made it fun to live with.
"Dreadlocks are not common in Rwanda but I have had a desire for this hairstyle since my childhood. I eventually turned it into a business venture in my home country Rwanda when I returned from a long stay in Belgium," Komezusenge said .
Komezusenge was born to Callixte Kayihura and Alexia Muhundwangeyo in Rusatira, Butare district in the Eastern province of Rwanda. She had 12 siblings but some did not survive the 1994 genocide.
While living in Belgium she was exposed to diverse cultures and eventually married a Belgian. "I managed to get training in beauty and cosmetology skills and specialized in dreadlock styling. In 2001 I established a cosmetic shop and by 2008 I resolved to assimilate the dreadlock culture in Rwanda."
Komezusenge started her enterprise with Rwf2million (about USD2,950). She also trained and hired two employees.
She said: "I now have over 5 saloon branches employing over 60 poeple. The main challenge I face now is competition especially from those I train. Some of them establish similar businesses before attaining adequate skills and end-up under performing. This is bad for the industry."
She expanded her enterprise to Uganda and has aspirations of operating in Burundi and Congo very soon.
Komezusenge says she has hope this venture can prosper. She said dreadlocks are ideal for women who have busy schedules and businesses. "If styled well, you can wear your dreadlocks for a wedding without being ridiculed. You can attend social events and corporate gatherings with no shame. "The bad perception is fading away," she says.
Komezusenge's business is worth about Rwf20 (about USD 29,500). She hopes to capitalize on the profits and expand her enterprise.
She encourages women and the youth get a focus and all will go on well. "With focus and determination plus a strong believe in oneself, everyone can achieve their dreams. I started discovering my dream when I was 13-years-old but went ahead and made it a reality because I had much desire to make it work," she said.
Komezusenge has been involved in dreadlock styling in the USA,UK, Canada among other countries and this is earning her prominence.