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When They See Us


This is the most common greeting I get on the streets.


Is another enticing one I am used to especially with Zimmerians. Somewhere close to this there is the, “Aiiire!”

“Miaka ngapi sasa?”

Disgusting. But what the hell?

“Sasa izi ukitaka kutoa si lazima unyoe?”

Mostly by my aunties and uncles who after five long years of this remarkable transformation, haven’t come to terms with it. Fuck off!

“Eiiiiiiiiiish! Rada?”

When I walk with my dreaded boyfriend. The Rasta couple!

“Naeza shika?”

Hold up! What have we said about touching an African woman’s hair?

The world of dreadlocks is contentious for many people around the world. Dreads send a bipolar reaction to everyone- on one hand they are fucking sexy and on the other hand, pretty scary. Guess that why they are called dreads. Yay!! Nailed it!

People with dreads are revered. Shit! Don’t I just looove dread-locked people? Me especially! I see a man or a woman in dreads and my knees go weak, literally. Of course not those one that just need to be eroded by the police. But those ones- you know the ones am talking about- long, thick, knots that promise mystery.

Gotta admit. Dread locked peeps look like they know something that the common people have no clue to. Kataa!

Over the years, dreads have transformed from a political statement (mine still are) to a hairstyle that almost everyone is adopting. Some twist their hair for economic reasons (I haven’t given a hairdresser any money for almost 3 years now). Others just do it for the psyche. Others to try out new things with their hair. Most for religious reasons. And many more for the rebel regalia. I also fall in the last category.

The history of dreads

Contrary to popular opinion, dreads have existed since time immemorial! If you trace the Hindu religion, you will find that some of their priests had locks.

A look at Ancient Kemit (Black People Where are you) you will find that our black pioneers also revered and had locks. Let no one fool you that dreads are for bhangi-smoking thieves (we can have this discussion later).

In the Bible, we all know that Samson had dreads (what does it mean to have locks of hair) even though most Christians would like to ignore this.

The Rastafarian culture is well-known for their hair spirituality. They believe locks make your hair intact and as such, it wont fall off and prey to any evil-doers. Still Morgan Heritage did say, “You don’t ha fi dread to be Rasta.” Whaddup bald Rastas!

Closer home we have our own Mau Mau! The Freedom Fighters! Those who fought for our independence. Someone like Dedan Kimathi who should have been president but… Mad respect to these guys! They were the real heroes who stayed in the forest, growing their hair, smoking weed and killing those white ma’afakas.

We still have some Mau Mau around Kenya. If you go to any protest, you will find dread-locked people. That’s because we are continuously fighting for the people. We are Rasta soldiers adorned in Combat jackets, boots, khaki pants and of course our dreadlocks.

Spoken word Artist Mayuu Sanaa.

If you are truly Black, you will enjoy this piece by some of our best Rasta soldiers- Bendi Huru- Black Without Apology.

From Babies to Locks

Growing dreads almost like raising children. Its difficult at first but after some years, you see the fruits.

The first time you go to have them locked, the hairdresser will charge you anywhere from 1000 to 2500. For retouch, you can get places as cheap as 500 to around 2000.

And the struggle is real.

Only a dread locked person will understand this:

  • First day at the salon with your babies, all bazingas in their 20-inch locks come strolling
  • After retouch, you wake up and your hair is once again unlocked
  • Going to retouch after every 2 weeks (for the first year at least)
  • When they get to that confused stage (mostly at 4-7 months. You look like an insane person and women clutch to their bags when you get into the matatu)
  • Not being able to hold your hair in a pony tail
  • Always being the first suspect!

By the way– Dread locked people go to the salon to have our hair twisted. Most of us use wax to have it locked. Others like me stick to the natural honey and molasses which work perfectly. Many people think we go to a certain spiritual mountain at night. At that mountain, we find Bob Marley and Burning Spear. We then undress and go around the fire seven times. And voila! We get locked. I wish it was that interesting though.

Fellow Zimmerian Telvo!

After 6 months of constant retouch, you can dump your hairdresser and do it yourself. You can also decide to just let it flow. You’ve seen those sexy people with untouched locks. Rhhhrrr!

After two years of dreadlocks, you will see the fruits. You walk around like a goddess knowing no one can tell you shit!

The dreadlocks Business

A true Rasta will never sell their dreads but if push came to shove, I would also sell mine. Having dreads is like buying a plot that you could sell anytime things get bad or  want to change your hairstyle.

A while back some terrible people had begun cutting off people’s dreads and selling them to the highest bidder. To be honest, I was quite scared for my life at that time. But I think that storm is over so we can all let our hair down.

Lock em, let em dread em!

Dreadlocks are not just a hairstyle. They are an identity! A statement! They are the most natural way that the Black person can go. And not just Black People, even the Whites are embracing this. Like Jason Mraz.

When dread-locked people walk around, the rest cant help but stare. Those stares of utter admiration, jealousy, condemnation and fear. I like that part.

So flaunt your dreads and shake em a lil bit!

Aiiire Rasta!

Your home-girl moi!


By Wambui Ochieng'

Radical Feminist

7 thoughts on “Dreadology 101”
  1. Great article on dreads rasta woman I a fellow dreadhead I’m happy to read it very empowering and illuminating 🔥🔥

  2. it’s a great content keep up the spirit I’m also a poet and i love when radical youth take art to greater herights jah bless
    “Rasta poet hizi pages za poetry naziturn ile design pedi huturn stoners into customers Na ka Malcolm X napigania civilization na freedom so please ukiniona usiniitishe free ndom Walisema akili ni nywele na barber hutumia zake kunyoa wasee Si zile motisha za wahenga kwangu hazina meaning Akili ni nywele Na mtaani wale wasee hucompromise dreams zetu huwa vipara Mr politician…”

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