Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

Dread..Dreadful…Dreadlocks

M y stylist cringes at the word dreadlocks. “Simply call it locks,” she would caution, “There’s nothing dreadful about locks.” This quarrel over naming is not trivial. She realizes, like most philosophers do, that naming is everything.  But what if there are no locks without the dread in them? What if locks are locks only after the work of dreadfulness has taken its course?

What is the dread in dreadlocks? Let’s take a look inside the lock itself. My stylist lectures me on the importance of pure locks: locks without fleece, without dust, without bee’s wax, without sweat, without lint, without beach sand, without bark, without soap residue, without splinters from my Formica chair, and other unclean things. But the idea of pure locks is an impossible dream. If there is one thing that cannot keep the outside completely out, it is the human head of hair. But most all a thicket of hair seeking to lose their individuality in a shock of entanglement. It is thanks to alien elements that a boring strand of hair becomes “dreadful.”

The locked hair always carries within itself things that it does not know, that it cannot name, things for which it cannot account.  It is always an accumulation of stuff, an archive of sorts. It is the only kind of hair where things cohabit in peace. New growth, old growth, dead growth coexist.

Dreadlocks are locks bound by the dread of the mysterious. In my hair resides the terror of a world without law, where things come in and go or stay and do as they please. This resourcefulness, this openness to the foreign is, in my opinion, at the heart of dreadlocks. But dreadlocks are a little hard to come to terms with, even for the owner. After three years, my hair continues to live a life of its own. My hair still surprises me. It’s sponginess, it’s worm-like, medusa-like appearance.

Photo Credit: Cruzine

Tags: , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

3 Responses to “Dread..Dreadful…Dreadlocks” Subscribe

  1. Cody 2011/10/11 at 01:40 #

    Long live medusa’s hair.

  2. admin 2011/10/11 at 02:06 #

    Lol! It does feel like Medusa’s snakes, especially when I haven’t made the long pilgrimage to my stylist.

  3. 3516 2011/10/11 at 03:56 #

    Bacon or beer can?

Leave a Reply

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

Watch This Poetry Dance Film of Kayo Chingonyi’s “Kumukanda”

kayo chingonyi - the guardian

Zambian poet Kayo Chingonyi’s first full-length collection, Kumukanda, is receiving praise. The Guardian has hailed its “lyrical elegance” and “many […]

Photos | Nommo Awards 2017: How Africa’s First Ever Speculative Fiction Awards Ceremony Happened

IMG_7063

The announcement of the winners of the inaugural Nommo Awards took place at the ongoing 2017 Ake Arts and Book […]

Goodreads Awards 2017: Vote Chimamanda Adichie’s “Dear Ijeawele” and Nnedi Okorafor’s “Home” in the Final Round

Nnedi-Okorafor BELLA NAIJA

Earlier this month we announced the online voting for Goodreads’ 2017 awards. The first round saw nominations for four authors having massively […]

#AkeFest2017 | Follow Brittle Paper’s Coverage of Ake Arts and Book Festival

ake festival (1)

  Ake Arts and Book Festival is happening in Abeokuta, Nigeria—has been happening since 14 November, to end on 18 […]

Opportunity for Writers and Visual Artists | Apply for the 2017 Artists in Residency Programme

Applications are open for the 2017 Artists in Residency (AIR) programme, an initiative of Africa Centre “seeking high calibre African artists, in […]

South African Literary Awards 2017: All the Winners

The winners of the 2017 South African Literary Awards have been announced. Here they are, with excerpts from their citations. […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.