– Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (Bobi Wine) – Moses Banalekaki – Brian Agaba – Stella Nyanzi – Isaac Ssemakade – Jimmy Akena – Mawanda Kaggwa : “Dreadlocks in Uganda: Affiliations to Discrimination, Criminality, and Political Opposition”

Death – Obituary – Accident and Crime News : A hairstyle does not make a thief. This statement rings true for dreadlocks, a hairstyle that has been unfairly associated with criminality and discrimination in Uganda. Dreadlocks have various affiliations across the country that have contributed to different types of state-sanctioned discrimination.

Historically, dreadlocks have been linked to armed rebel groups, such as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which terrorized communities in Uganda between 1987 and 2012. The LRA members were often identified by their dreadlocks and unkempt appearances. This association has led to a negative perception of dreadlocks, with people assuming that anyone with the hairstyle is involved in criminal activities.

In urban centers, dreadlocks are also associated with drug dealers and criminality. A survey conducted by the Center for Collaborative Investigative Journalism (CCIJ) revealed that many people associate dreadlocks with words like “rasta,” “drugs,” “ugly,” “criminal,” and “thugs.” This stereotype has led to discrimination against individuals with dreadlocks, who are often wrongly assumed to be involved in illegal activities.

For those who identify as Rastafarian, dreadlocks hold religious and spiritual significance. Rastafarianism is a movement that combines elements of Christianity, mysticism, and pan-African political consciousness. Wearing dreadlocks is seen as a religious practice, rooted in a reading of Leviticus in the Old Testament that discourages cutting hair. However, this spiritual connection is often misunderstood or ignored, contributing to discrimination against individuals with dreadlocks.

The discrimination extends beyond personal beliefs and religious practices. Those who support political opposition groups, such as former dreadlock-sporting politician Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, also known as Bobi Wine, face similar discrimination. Opposition supporters, especially those from low-income neighborhoods, are often associated with dreadlocks due to their affiliation with Bobi Wine and his political party. This association has led to arrests, assaults, and even forced haircuts during police crackdowns on protesters.

Discrimination against dreadlocks is not limited to societal biases. It also extends to hiring practices within government and other institutions. Many respondents in the CCIJ survey expressed their reluctance to hire someone with dreadlocks, citing concerns about professionalism and public appearance. This bias has made it difficult for individuals with dreadlocks to secure employment, further perpetuating the stereotype that they are lazy or unprofessional.

It is essential to challenge these misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding dreadlocks. A person’s hairstyle should not determine their character or capabilities. By educating the public, promoting inclusivity, and advocating for equal opportunities, Uganda can move towards a society that recognizes the diversity and individuality of its citizens, regardless of their hairstyle choices.

Leave a Comment