Dada: Is There A Spiritual Meaning To Having Dreadlocks?
Dreadlocks might be a hairstyle or trend to some, but for others, it is significant. Here is the spiritual meaning of dreadlocks in Nigerian traditions and religion
In Nigeria, especially in the Southern and Eastern part of Nigeria, seeing a person walking down the street with dreadlocks isn't a surprising thing. While it is worn as a fashion trend, there are those who are born with it or have groomed it from birth. And it is for these people that the spiritual meaning of dreadlocks mostly applies. Children who are born this way are called "Dada." And because of the spiritual significance, they sometimes have to live to a certain age before their hair can be cut. The right age can range from three to fifteen years. Sometimes, it is the child who either asks for the hair to be cut or left alone.
The spiritual meaning of dreadlocks
In Nigeria, whenever anything is linked with the spiritual, most times people view that thing a certain way. So it hasn't been exactly easy for children and adults who were born this way. They are seen as different, and not in a good way. But what has helped the situation is that those who wear dreadlocks by choice have made it harder to know those who were born with it. To an extent, this has helped reduce the fear with which people who were born dada are viewed. This article will focus on the spiritual meaning of dreadlocks, both religiously and traditionally.
The religious meaning of dreadlocks
There is a story in the bible about Samson and Delilah. Many Christians know this story. In this story, Samson's strength is directly linked with the "seven locks on his head." Samson lost his strength when his hair was cut. Additionally, there's another part in Leviticus 21:5 that asks priests to not shave their heads. It reads: "They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in the flesh. This verse of the bible is why Rastafarians wear dreadlocks.
However, dreadlocks are common among members of Cherubim and Seraphim in Nigeria. Apostle S.A. Adeniran, who heads one of the biggest C and S churches in Jos, says there are a few parents among his members who have Dada kids. However, he does not believe it is only common among his members.
For Mr and Mrs Musa, the birth of their kids opened their eyes to the extraordinary abilities of dreadlocked kids. According to them, the birth of Samson and Francis helped them learn certain things about being Dada. They believe that Samson and Francis are a lot stronger than other kids their age. Reportedly, both of them never crawled, they just started walking. To Mr and Mrs Musa their kids' dreadlocks mean strength. They came to this conclusion when an unknown person cut a lock of Samson's hair and it weakened him. As a result, he was being beaten by boys he used to be tougher than. For members of Cherubim and Seraphim, or others bearing dreadlocks for religious reasons, their hair can only be cut after a "spiritual revelation."
The traditional meaning of dreadlocks
Yoruba people refer to children born with dreadlocks as “Dada", while the Igbo refer to them as “Ezenwa” or “Elena”. For the Yorubas and Igbos, children with dada are spiritual beings because of their hair. They are known as children who bring wealth. They are well celebrated and their hair can only be touched by their mothers. The symbol of these are cowries for both cultures. Therefore, for Prof Augustine Agwuele, to be dada is to be special. Their time here is also considered special and not evil.
Though he says the hair has to be cut so that children can go into society without looking different. But you don't just cut the hair, some rites must be followed. The hair must be cut beside a river. Then the cut hair is put into a container with the river water in it. This is because if the child becomes sick later, the river water and the medicine in it can cure the child's sickness. Finally, in Yoruba and Igbo cultures, the hair cutting ceremony is done before the age of fourteen.
Read also: 20 Signs that you have a gifted child