Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Loc Stigma (Nigeria)

Hello y'all,
I had a whole week to rest in Abuja, this is the longest I have stayed in Abuja ever, it’s usually in and out but this stay was definitely worth it. I can truly say I rested. J
Walking up those miserable metal stairs to the departure hall at the Abuja airport, I noticed I got a few awkward stares, this can be attributed to several things; maybe the short dress I’m wearing, my beautiful long legs or maybe my hair, my dada, my lovely crown. These days I can’t even be bothered any more, I just like to believe that I am a fine girl like that. Haha!!!

On a more serious note though, Loc stigma exists in many ways and it’s a little unsettling to understand why. In more recent times I have been obsessed about explaining this phenomenon and I’m pretty determined to make the world see how ridiculous it is to stigmatize anybody for choosing to wear their own hair. I hope to make a documentary sometime in the near future where we can trace locs to our own history and see how it became a taboo for one to be true to how they are. In the main time and before I unleash my film making abilities, here are my thoughts around loc stigma in Nigeria.

The Mad Man.
I remember the streets of Lagos dotted with burning filth alongside mentally ill persons in the 90’s when I was growing up in the city. All mentally ill persons on the streets also had the trade mark – “Dada” also known as Dreadlocks. When you don’t comb your hair it locks, that is what hair of African descent does and as you would imagine mentally ill persons living on the streets, combing through trash for their daily bread are not thinking of combing their hair. This was my introduction to locs as a Nigeria and yes it’s not pleasing, not what anyone would like to wear.

The Religious Factor.
Many White Garment wearing churches have sentiments towards locs. It is quite common in Nigeria to find children in such churches with dada. I remember hearing stories about how a child can die if their locs were cut, or how their scalps will bleed; how a big party has to be thrown before you can cut off the locs. I know that the proposed documentary will shed more light on these beliefs and why they have come to be. However, this religious bias discourages a lot of people from wearing locs.

The Rastafarian.
This is in fact another Jamaican religious sect, known for wearing locs and smoking cannabis. The loc stigma here comes from “cannabis”. It is largely assumed that when you wear locs, you must smoke a little bit of ganja too. I have been asked severally for information on where to find weed…. Errrr seriously?

The Doll Face Factor
When wearing someone else’s hair becomes more acceptable than wearing yours… Jesus! Even typing this is ridiculous. Over the past decade, it has become the norm to woman of colour to always have straight hair and somehow buying other people’s hair, Brazilian, Peruvian, Indian, literally hair from any other race is the solution to having long, silky, straight hair at all times. It appears we are all trying extra hard and spending good MONEY to look like Barbie dolls.

These are just a few of the things at the back of the average Nigerian’s mind that leads to stereotyping people with locs and it is all wrong. If you think about this a little it becomes clear that the stigma comes from a place of not thinking, confusion and internalized unconscious self-hate. How can we hate ourselves so much without even knowing?

Some may argue that things are changing and people with locs are becoming more acceptable. The answer is yes; but we need to have this conversation until having locs is perceived as normal.

@OMGvoiceNigeria created this beautiful montage of Nigerian celebrities with locs, I leave you with this.


Till later. I remain your loyal Loc Head.


Ade.