The Dreadlocks Culture in SVG

Questions: Please write about something that you know or like about popular culture in your home nation or in Taiwan. For example, if you are from America and you feel that hip-hop music represents popular culture in America, please tell me about hip-hop music and why it is important to American popular culture.

Responses: “I do not want any men with plaited hair in this church! my Pastor thundered from the altar that Sunday morning. He had finally, on the heels of comments by another sister about the hairstyling trends among the youth of the church, brought himself to say that my hairstyle, though not sinful, was inappropriate. A few months later, I had to travel to Barbados. And, not wanting to be harassed by immigration officials on suspicions of being a dealer in or user of marijuana, I decided to reintroduce my hair to its onetime friend: the scissors.

Dreadlocks in my home country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), like most of the Caribbean was associated with Rastafarianism and everything that that philosophy represents: praising Haile Selassie I, the former Emperor of Ethiopia, as the redeemer of mankind and renouncing Jesus Christ – Christianity’s Saviour of Man; a vegetarian diet, and, among other things, in some instances, the smoking of marijuana. Wearing dread was relegated to those who were willing to live on the periphery of society, a target for the police and other social institutions, including the Church.

Much has changed in SVG during the ten years since that incident that Sunday morning. And, today, I no longer plait my hair; they have gone beyond that to full-fledged dreadlocks. Today in SVG one cannot tell by looking who subscribes to or practices Rastafarianism. The Elders of my church and most conservatives in the society have long come to accept the hairstyle as part of the “fad that is sweeping the country. More and more people and, increasingly people of influence, are moving towards the hairstyle: it is very much “the in thing. This is evidenced when one sees persons like Vincentian lawyer Joseph Delves with dreadlock half way down his back.

Vincentian people dreadlock their hair for a number of reasons. For some, it is to proclaim their Rastafarian faith. Others want to accentuate their “West Indianess or “Africaness, with some women wanting an “African queen look rather than using relaxers that make their hair look more like Caucasians’. Other people lock their hair just for the sake of changing their style while others think that doing so will make them more physically appealing.

My decision to lock my hair was made almost three years ago. Back then, I was a practicing journalist (left). One former colleague remarked during a conversation recently, “I never though I would have seen the day when there would be a Rasta Kenton Chance. Of course his comment was somewhat light-hearted and I, in the same sprit, noted I am still very much the Christian that I was before the change in hairstyle. Changing my hairstyle was my way of saying: “Hairs my point: I am not your regular conformist. However, unlike many men who grow up in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Caribbean in general, I have never smoked “weed or anything for that matter.

So whether it is to say, “I believe that Haile Selassie is the Redeemer or “Hey, here I am, your regular ‘delinquent’, I smoke the herb or just a change of style, dreadlocks have in the last ten years or so become a part of popular culture in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And from all indication, the wave is yet to crest.

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3 thoughts on “The Dreadlocks Culture in SVG

  1. Hi Kenton,
    Superb article. You caught me completelyby surprised. When you spoke of sociological assignment, I was thinking of some highbrowed something with a lot of jargon. The article is quite simply written and is light hearted.
    And boy,how you manged to make your point without coming across as being judgmental?
    Great article.
    Jeff

  2. I do look forward to reading your articles. This piece though simple says a lot; and I agree with Jeff it is not judgemental. By the way, some people wear dreadlocks because they just don’t like combimg their hair or as we’ll say “they nasty” (smile). Keep up the good work.

  3. Yeah man!

    Good article. Every man reason for growing his locks is different and personal which is almost symbolic of what Rasta is. Even to talk about what Rasta is, is symbolic of what Rasta is, as you will see as you speak to more Rasta, that the beauty of it is acceptance. To accept others for who they are, things and situations for what they are, life and nature for what they are and to live above the worldly grievances and gripes, politics, religions, vices and just live good. Clean heart. Clean mind.

    When you look at a man, you look at his heart, not his hair, his color, religion. This is something that all men know is true but often forget to follow.

    The road is a journey, just keep walking.

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