BY BADRU AFUNADULA, 14 JUNE 2012-A decade ago, dreadlocks were a no-go. The all-knowing critics would claim that whoever spotted them was spoilt.-But then people like Dr Sylvia Tamale wore them and with time, society has been forced to re-evaluate
the trend. Today, they are the "in-thing" especially for women.
The dreadlock rise
Although dreadlocks have a spiritual background - Samson's locks and John the Baptist's wild hair in the Bible come to mind - it was not the clergy that made them popular in Uganda. Women actually embraced the trend in response to the challenging economic times.
Christina Rachael, a student at Kampala International University, chose to have locks because they are cheaper to maintain than the ordinary straight perm.
"They are income-saving because they don't require regular maintenance like normal hair and they are long-lasting," she said.
Rachael also likes the locks because they are in vogue and "look cool" on her. Martin of Martin's World of Dreadlocks at Jesco Plaza on Wilson Road agrees: "It is the current trend, and like you know, women always want to move with the trend."
Cost of the dreads
To look chic and trendy with these locks, one has to part with Shs 50,000 for temporary locks and Shs 150,000 for permanent locks at Martin's World of Dreadlocks. Temporary locks have extensions that are twisted with natural hair using gel. Permanent locks are water resistant and one can dip them in hair without getting damaged.
But Martin warns that temporary locks get spoilt when exposed to water.
Isn't cheap expensive?
Most women in Kampala have straight perm hair, which costs about Shs 45,000 to maintain in a month. The cost includes regular treatment and conditioning at Shs 15, 000 per visit at the salon. Locks, however cost a hefty Shs 150,000. Are they cost effective?
Moses, owner of Rock My World salon in Kamwokya, says locks are cheaper than perms because they last a life time. At Rock My World, permanent dreadlocks cost Shs 500,000 with natural hair, while permed hair costs Shs 250,000. European hair is done for Shs 400,000.
"For example, I buy human dreads from those who are tired of them at around Shs 200,000, depending on their size. But I can store them for up to three months without getting customers. Don't you see that my capital will be tied up?" says Moses.
Moses, who took over the salon from his sister in 2009, made it a dreadlocks-only business and so far, the venture is paying off. And as Martin puts it, Ugandans are simply returning to their roots - dreadlocks aren't a foreign Jamaican hairdo.
"They are for every African because according to historians, the first known examples of dreadlocks date back to East Africa and some parts of North Africa," Martin says.
"Maasai men found in the regions of northern Tanzania and southern Kenya have been wearing dreadlocks for a long time; so, women shouldn't be afraid to wear them."