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Dreadlocks: What's The Whole 9 Yards About It?

HI NLs,

I just made a new friend(Jamaican dad and Nigerian mom) and he has natural dreadlocks, now, I was hearing some kin story from another friend of mine about such people - relating to their spiritual matters/spirituality or whatever, which I count to be all superstitions. I have come across a lot of dreads before, but my thoughts never reached the level of information I just received.

Yoruba people call it - i think they are called DADA.

Whats the whole point, story, history, belief or whatever, as far as such kids, boys/men are concerned in the Nigerian/African perspective - just for my own information. Please fill me in.

How about women Dadas? I dont know if there are

please shoot

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3 answers

No sweat, Ayeisha. I'm pretty familiar with rastas, i-tal food, livity etc. I've got a couple of friends who are serious about their faith. I assumed that the poster had some idea about the Rastafarian connotations and was more interested in learning about the "dada" and its meaning in Yoruba culture. As an aside, Ethiopians don't generally lock their hair. The first Rastas claim to have been inspired by photos of Mau-Mau rebels in Kenya who were fighting to overthrow British colonialism. Some other scholars believe that they absorbed the concept of long, locked hair, ganga smoking and a vegetarian diet from the saddhus amongst the Indian indentured workers that came to Jamaica in the 19th century.

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You are absolutely right terracotta but Rastafarians believe in something totally different and then there are those who wear them as afashion statement. Many of the people who sport the locks do not know or understand the roots of locks. You speak of it's origin based on your own culture i think. But it seems as though the person who started this thread said his friend is Jamaican and Nigerian. Jamaicans were responsible for the wide spread awareness of Rastafarianism. Bob Marley was one. Remember his hair? There a tons of Japanese Rastafarians as well who sport these locks and practice the way of life. I've met quite a few here in nyc! There are also white Rastafarians! You can see them all over Williamsburg and Central Park! Now I'm sure that your definition of Dada was accurate in Nigerian culture but Rastafarianism which stemmed from Ethiopia might have a totally different definition and explanation for locks. Many Japanese are very in tune with Jamaican culture and models of these lock stood outto them through the Rastafarian movement. The whites have the same reasons for sporting them most of the time.

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To answer the question posed (which didn't even mention Rastafarianism, as far as I can see):

'Dada' in traditional Yoruba culture described children who were born with locked hair, or people who grew them for religious purposes. They used to be consecrated to the Orisa (or deity) of vegetables and newborns called Dada in the past, and their hair was supposed to be left uncut for a specific amount of time until a special celebration/ceremony could be held. Ijebus also sometimes call them 'omolokun', and they share similiar beliefs with Ijaw and other Niger Delta peoples about the special qualities of these children. Most of the traditional beliefs are not closely followed anymore though.

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