Fri | Sep 22, 2017

Rastafarian shows off 10-foot dreadlocks

Published:Monday | September 1, 2014 | 9:00 AM
Rupert Scott (left), of Middleton, St Thomas, whose locks are more than 10 feet long, poses for pictures with Saddah Malaka from the South African Embassy when embassy staff visited the Middleton Primary School in observance of Nelson Mandela Day in July.-Ian Allen/Staff Photographer
Rupert Scott (left), of Middleton in St Thomas, gets some help with his locks after he unwrapped them to show to visitors from the South African Embassy who were in the community observing Nelson Mandela Day.-Ian Allen/Staff Photographer
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Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer

The dreadlocks of Rupert Rickards are more than 10 feet long, and the Rastafarian says it requires two bottles of shampoo and half a bottle of conditioner each time he washes his hair.

Rickards, 64, started to grow his dreadlocks in 1968 after moving out of his parents' house. He says keeping his hair clean sometimes proves challenging, forcing him to spend more than three hours to ensure that it is properly cleansed.

"Most of the times I go to the river and wash it. I just put it on my knee and wash it like clothes for about 45 minutes," Rickards told The Gleaner.

"After washing it, I have to throw it over a line to make it dry. I will stand or sit in the sun for about two hours waiting for it to dry, after which I grease my scalp," he added.

"People ask me all the time if it nuh heavy but I don't know if it is, because I have gotten used to it. It only gets heavy when I am washing it; other than that, I don't even feel it," Rickards said.

The Rastafarian, who resides in Middleton, St Thomas, said he nearly lost his locks while he was imprisoned in the United States of America.

"That was a big problem. They wanted to cut off my dreads, but when you check it out now, me and the other dreadlocks Jamaicans wrote a petition to the judge in New York stating that this is our religion and we don't think it is right for them to cut off our hair. Thankfully, the judge approved," Rickards told The Gleaner.

The Rastafarian did not state the reason for his incarceration. He, however, said he tries his best to "walk a straight line and stay out of trouble".

"There will be stumbling blocks in life sometimes, but you just have to overcome them and continue to walk on that line. I will continue to walk on that line," he continued.

Rickards told The Gleaner that his spiritual awakening began long before he started to grow his dreadlocks.

"It all started when I was four years old and used to have dreams about this man with dreadlocks who did good things for people. After that, I asked my mother about the dream, and it was then that she told me that the man was my family," he said.

"It was after I moved out of my mother's and father's regime and started to support myself that I took on the faith, as I was grown up with a lot of manners and chose not to disrespect them," Rickards added.

He further stated that the beginning of his journey was not an easy one, as men with dreadlocks were often harassed by the police in the 1960s.

"Back in those days, there used to be a lot of robberies, so the police would be on patrol looking for the criminals. As Rastas, we were often harassed and beaten due to the discrimination we received. They used to think bad things of us, like all we do is smoke weed and rob people," Rickards said.