The rate at which dreadlocks play in Nigeria’s fashion industry has painted a sort of new trend for the youths in showcasing their views and expressing themselves through this fashion. The same goes for tattoos. Ranging from influencers to art lovers, the trend has spewed a colourful convention among the youths.

However, even in this contemporary time, some Nigerians find the locking of hair and the wearing of tattoos as an immoral and a criminal-worthy art. People found with this hairstyle and body art are susceptible to receiving backlash from religious leaders, sneers from elders, shuns from hiring managers, and, the most raved, unending harassment from the Nigerian civil force — especially the all-known SARS.

There are too-many-to-count youths that have vented on Twitter about how much they get ignored simply because of the art they choose to do with themselves, from being slapped by a security personnel to being stared at in the church. As others come out of their shells to mock the artists about how these expressions are not tied with Nigeria’s culture, and so they should be given the cold shoulder, the artists often start a debate — in which they have proved dreadlocks and tattoos are indeed part of Nigeria’s, and relatively Africa’s, tradition.

In the Yoruba culture, the priests of Olokun, the god of the deep ocean (the abyss, signifying unfathomable wisdom), wear dreadlocks, symbolising their role. Also, infants born with natural dreads are tagged as ‘Dada’ in Western Nigeria. The Igbos, on the other hand, call them ‘Elena’ which means ‘Child King’.

For tattooing, also named scarification or body art, has been rooted in Nigeria’s history for as long as time can tell. In this present day, the Hausas and Fulanis are often seen with markings on their arms and faces, most especially the women. Tribal marks are also a form of body art — whether it is for the identification of culture or any traditional reason, they still remain body art. Moreover, many Nigerians feel history and mainstream norm should not be close. This is entirely not true, though. Like they say, “Tradition is peer pressure from dead people,” so it is understandable why people don’t let go of superstitions.

If you cannot compliment one’s art, dreads and tattoos, it’s best you ignore. It is their decision, not yours — and there’s no harm in respecting that. Personality doesn’t work with looks, so it is honourable not to judge one’s look before attitude. It’s unethical to judge a book by it’s cover, isn’t it what they say?

People should not be judged, at least not like how viewers personalise Annalise Keating from How To Get Away With Murder. They should, without doubt, be respected.

This article was written by Tumike-John Adisa; connect with him on Instagram via here  


  • Emmanuel Jimmy says:

    If you’re seen with dreads and tattoos, you’re done for. You won’t be allowed to enter some religious homes, you can’t get jobs, you will be searched by the police, people will ignore you on the road if you stop for directions. This country needs to see this. SARS is busy chasing boys with dreadlocks while some people are busy stealing billions. Who are the criminals?

  • H. J. says:

    Lovely and educating. The flow of words is clear and the message is channeled properly. Good job.

  • Jessy says:

    This is very factual. Nothing but truth. My cousin had dreads all his life since he was a baby and he parents decided not to cut them off. Although I don’t have dreads, I know what it’s like to have one in Nigeria, as I have seen how much people have reacted to him. Interesting article. I hope people read and learn from this

  • Cynthia Gowon says:

    With all honesty, I don’t like people with tattoos. I can ignore locks but definitely not tattoos. I can’t appreciate people with tattoos. Now that you’ve said we should ‘respect’ their decisions, not necessarily like them, I think I can follow that. Wonderful read.

  • Oji Victor says:

    Personally, I don’t really like dreadlocks mostly because of the idea behind it. It used to be done for fashion, but now it’s for insane reasons. For fashionable sense, dreadlocks is cool and it’s wrong to hate someone for one’s fashionable choice. This is an enlightening writeup.

  • Okhare Joachim says:

    This article is specific and has a very convincing tone. This is excellent for speeches.

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