Tuesday, July 18, 2006


This is a book that I have had for the last 3 months or so and I highly recommend it!No review of this book says it as well as this one from 3 black chics.....

look. i don't mind
that you don't find
my locs divine--
they're mine.
yes, mine.
yes. mine.
not fine,
-Excerpt from "no dread", by /bams tha poetik
As someone who's been Happy I'm Nappy for most of my life, and a proud wearer of a dreadlocked mane for six years, I'm always pleased to find a book that celebrates natural hair. Doubly so, when I find those few that don't do so in a defensive, almost apologetic, way. Thankfully, Dreads neither apologizes for, nor tries to defend, the hair it describes; like that hair itself, Dreads just lets it all hang out.
Dreads is a beautifully-photographed black-and-white pictorial by photographers Francesco Mastalia and Alfonse Pagano (with a wonderful intro by the nattily-dreaded Alice Walker) that captures the essence of Why We Wear Dreads - told in the words of some who do.
Walker's spot-on verbal illustration of what led her to wear dreads, sparked an amen or two from me - especially when she spoke of the "how do you wash it?" question. Following Walker's intro is a brief, but informative, history of natural hair ("Sacred Rites of the Natural Hair Revolution"). From there, Mastalia and Pagano's beautiful pictures from cultures around the world, take center stage, with those being photographed, telling their Whys in their own words. As you might guess, there are as many reasons why one decides to wear dreads - jatta, ndiagne, palu, if you will - as there are wearers.
But if you come for the pretty pictures, stay for the substance - as this book provides both. For example, American Blacks have long bemoaned the tendency of American Whites to co-opt many of "our" cultural artifacts for the sake of fashion, without having an inkling of the heritage and meaning behind those artifacts. And in many instances, they would be right. But I wonder how many of those same Blacks would be surprised to learn that their chosen matted hairstyle didn't originate with Bob Marley? Or that many Rastafarians denounce the cutting and salon pampering to which many American dreadheads subject their hair? Or, indeed, that the term "dreadlocks" was originally a derogatory term, created by those who would oppress the wearing of the same?
Me, I was delighted to learn as much as I did, and the learning didn't take away from my enjoyment one bit. If my knee jerked a bit at the sight of a dreadlocked White man (and the memory of one who once told me he caked his hair with mud, to make the matting stick), I at least had the opportunity to learn why he chose the path of nappiness. A book that educates as well as entertains...gotta love it.
Though I've had this book for months, a fairly traumatic event happened earlier this month, that moved me to finally do this review: Yet Another White woman thought it was okay to run her hands through my dreads without my permission.
[Before you start foaming at the mouth by my inclusion of the term "White woman", note the term I used before it: "Yet Another". I've had my hair in dreads since September of 1997, and from then till now, it has only been White women - note the plural form - who have had the audacity, the nerve, the outright gall, to do such a thing to me. Multiple times. So keep your cries of "you racist" to yourselves; I ain't hearin' it].
I won't regale all and sundry with the sad, sad tale of this latest incident; email me if you want The Rest Of The Story. But let me go on record with this: the next person (most likely White, most likely a woman; but if the shoe fits...) who puts their hands in my hair, uninvited - will draw back a stub where there was once an arm.
For those who were always curious about the nature and origin of dreadlocks, but were afraid to ask, Dreads is a great addition to your reference shelf. Even if you think you know everything about Rastas, ndiagne, Baye Fall, and the like - and you probably don't - Dreads makes for a fine work of art to display on your coffee table.

It's a great book and what I am going to do is share some pages from it.Enjoy.....

The forward by Alice Walker, just click for a larger readable image

I'm going to share many images from the book.Don't have the time to scan all the text

Don't these peeps look familiar?

More familiar peeps!

Ladies, I know you'll have alot to say about this pic!

More coming!


The Devious One said...

Aco I guess great minds think alike...I have the book !


acolyte said...

@ devious one
Congrats!Yeah right!

spicebear said...

would you belive i was going to do a post about people randomly touching my dreads? without permission? and this used to happen back home too but not as much as here.

sounds like an nteresting book, will be sure to add it to my list of books to look up.

akiey5 said...

Sounds like a dready, nutty get together at your e-crib Aco,lol!

Been there, done that. Had dreads for good portin of my late teens-early 20s. Most photos from my undergrad days are nutty/lock'd.

I've had the book since early 2002 & I ripped through the pages in one night. Very interesting read & yeah, there's a bunch of myths & queries from non-Black folks regarding dreads.

Good scans for those pics Aco.

Kagz said...

I've always wanted to have dreds but cant coz i'll defn be back in Kenya as soon as i can & my industry is kidogo conservative.

The Devious One said...

dont be such a doubting Thomas Aco...I have the book see ( points at book but then realizes Aco dont have super vision )
that was me stalking u at walmart and since I know where U live...I will pay U a suprise visit ( pun intended ) and show U full ownership of my kitabu..brown cover with name all over it and all !!

acolyte said...

@ spicebear
You should post a pic of your dreads.I bet it was white folks who were up in your dreads bila permission.Lucky for me the only people who wanted to touch my dreads were yes white but were my ex boss and an ex colleague (both women).The book is a good investment!
@ akiey
Indeed it is!The book is a good read.Ill make more scans but I made the mistake of not compessing them, so the images took forever to upload to blogger!
@ kagz
Maybe you should try them before you leave?And anyway those industry peeps need to loosen up!
@ devious one
If you do have the book, I'll take your word for it!Besides I knew you always wanted to be like me!

Kibet said...

Me likes the Maasai locks more than the rest! *Sigh* With a different career, i'd love to have those locks on my head!

Ms K said...

Auuuuuuuuiiiiiiiii that man!!!!!

Hey I'm about to start loc-ing my hair. That book would make a reeaaaaalllllyyyy nice present don't you think?

Ms K said...

The last one that is. The hunky dream of a man. Those eyes, are looking straight into me.

Heh heh you asked for it!

acolyte said...

@ kibet
It's a shame how careers hold us back aesthetically!
@ Ms K
Indeed it would!The last dude comes in some soap that comes on tv, I'll read the book and tell you; so you can go get more pics of him online!

POTASH said...

Gee acolyte you blog faster than I can read, but I guess I will comment on this because it is close to home.
Okay why do you have to tip toe around the race issues... when i was younger ,people used to say I had jungle fever, but it is just the white girls that were feeling my nappy head..
You know I been picked at Carnie... aki... with that line: can I touch your hair. Geez man, This cat has come a long way doing it street style.

acolyte said...

@ Potash
Well the book review was from a website.I myself usually do not tip toe around race issues.I just try to present things on a balanced basis.
Seems dreads are some sort of white gal magnet.I am sure you cashed in big time when you had them!

POTASH said...

Lol... good ol' days partner.
*Shakes, budding nappy head*

The joke used to be: mention any country of the world, and potash he done it. Crazy, innit?
Anyway, just checked out an early edition of kwani, has a photo of Kimathi with really short dreads. But anyway, have to check out the writers you were telling me about.

Girl next door said...

People overstep boundaries when they come up and touch your dreads without permission. Must be fascinating for them but that's no excuse! That last guy is hot!

acolyte said...

I am an ardent advocate of all forms of exploration and self discovery!
I think I remember that pic.I am trying to get some idiots back home to send me copies of Kwani 3.
@ Girl Next Door
Luckily I have not experienced it but if someone tries it they will get the sharp end of my tongue!