DREADLOCKS have found a glamorous space on South African television, with the likes of Port Elizabeth’s very own Zolisa Xaluva, along with co-stars Nambitha Mpumlwana and Zenande Mfenyana from popular soapie Generations, impressing viewers with elegantly styled dreadlocks.
The process, which now includes applying beeswax and twisting the hair with a comb to keep it locked, can be styled in many different and creative ways and has taken off as a hairstyle of choice for many television stars, sports personalities and ordinary people.
Siyabonga Cembi, 30, who co-owns the well-known Siya & Cassie’s Dreadlocks Salon in Port Elizabeth along with his wife, Cassandra (Cassie) Cembi, started off by doing his own dreads.
“It’s taken a long time for the dreadlocks industry to take off because of the many negative perceptions that society has had towards them,” said Cembi.
“For a long time, dreads were seen as dirty, but I saw how similar dreads are to braids, and so why not apply the same appealing hairstyles to dreadlocks. Before people thought you could only style dreads in one way, but that’s not the case anymore,” he said.
The popularity of dreadlocks has grown partly because perceptions and attitudes towards them have changed.
Cembi said “there has been a movement towards going natural” that has definitely elevated the status of keeping hair locked.
Zenande Mfenyane, who plays the feisty Noluntu on SABC1 show Generations said she’s wanted to keep her hair locked since her high school days.
“I wanted dreadlocks in high school, but the one I went to did not allow us to have them, but when I got to Grade 11 I started twisting my natural hair a bit, and when I finished matric the first thing I did was get my hair locked,” said Mfenyane.
“I think a lot of people are slowly moving away from chemicals and weaves. I get stopped in the streets by people who love how my hair is styled on Generations,” said Mfenyane.
Dreadlocks have become a hairstyle of choice for both international and local celebrities.
“When celebrities wear dreadlocks it gives the dreadlocks industry credibility, and people are motivated to wear them as well,” said Cembi who has worked with celebrities like Twasa from Jam Alley and Nemsa from popular rap group Skwatta Kamp.
Growing and styling them has now been made easier.
“It’s much easier now to style dreads. At first I had no idea what needed to be done, but with experience I can take between 30 minutes and an hour,” said Cembi.
“And it doesn’t cost much, because it can cost R170 for a wash, treatment and styling package that will last a month.”
He maintains that a lack of chemicals ensures they are a healthier option for you hair.
“They are unlike the harsh chemicals used in relaxers which damage your hair. With braids and weaves people are starting to lose their hair because of how they are put in.”
Mfenyane says she could never go back to chemically treating her hair. She keeps her locks healthy by going for oil treatments once every six months, regular treatments every month, and treating her scalp with hair food every second day.