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