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The word ‘dada’ also refers to children born with naturally matted or locked hair and, though it’s of Yoruba origin, the sentiments around it are more dominant in Igbo land. The hair is similar to dreadlocks and is tough to comb, but the difference here is that Dada is more predestined and not by choice. That’s probably why the bearers are sometimes called dreads — but not in Igbo land. The Igbo people call children with dada ‘ezenwa’, or Elena” translated to mean “Child King”, a name given to them largely due to the nature of their hair which is likened to a crown and also because of the belief of toughness and resilience such children possess. They are believed to be special and have unique and spiritual capabilities like the gift of healing, extreme intelligence and physical strength. Therefore, in Igbo land, it is believed that children born dada are of spiritual origin — the dark side — and are possessed because their mothers visited shrines and made pacts with deities to conceive them, and a mother making a pact with a deity means her dada child is under that god’s protection and has been destined for great things that would favour the schemes of that god.
Hence, our people (Igbo) observe many traditional rules and beliefs when dealing with a dada. For instance, it is believed that when the hair of a dada child is combed or cut, the child would fall very sick and could even die.
The most important of them is the ritual performed before clearing a dada’s hair. The hair must be cut by a chief priest (this means a jujuist in Igbo Land), After the ritual is performed, the hair of the dada is collected into a pot of water containing special herbs and kept by the parents of the child. The potion can be used as medicine in case the child falls ill. But since the advent of Christianity in Nigeria, most parents would rather employ the prayers of Catholic priests. The ceremony also entails calling friends and family over and treating them to a nice feast after the shaving. Dadas whose hair is cut without the proper ceremony are believed to die within three days after the shaving. Even so, there have been cases of those who survived after being shaved without the ritual.
Prior to the shaving, it is also believed that touching a dada’s hair, whether to feel its roughness, to scold the wearer by pulling at it, or to comb it, can be tempting considering that it looks unusual; but that would only make the child sick — unless of course you are the mother. Why, because only the mother can touch the hair without making the dada sick. That you are the father does not count. However, if you could not resist touching the hair or you mistakenly touched it, you must give the child money or tie a Cowry to his hair to stop him from becoming sick. That is why most dadas carry a good number of cowries on their hair, the number representing the many or few times their hair was touched by someone other than their mothers. The cowries, I think, rank among the reasons dadas do not comb their hair; that is, along with the difficulty that comes with combing something so tangled up. But most Igbo folks believe the hair is left unkempt because Dadas are considered to be the Samsons of our time. Combing or cutting their hair without the proper ritual would only alter their grand destinies.
Dadas are sometimes also called ‘ogbange’, meaning the reincarnated. Most Igbo communities believe they are the reincarnations of some great men and women, jujuists, and even deities.
These rules and beliefs about dadas make them live in isolation through their childhood as other children point fingers at them and avoid them, whispering, “He’s possessed. Ogbange…” While this can be damaging to a child’s psychology, it can also give the child some sense of security, since the stigmatisation is as a result of fear and not disdain. But it should be noted that fear can stir violence. Thus, that sense of security becomes an illusion.
However some web pages on the issue claim that people had dreads in the bible days. Including Samson and maybe even Moses, Samuel and Jonh the Baptist. And God himself encouraged such in so many passages in the Bible for instance, Numbers 6:5, Judges16:13, Ezekiel 44:20 and so on. Some claim dreads have been around since the start of time and it’s natural.
Hence we look into the following questions :
Do they deserve such a damaging childhood?
Does the hairstyle dreadlocks have any spiritual implications?
What is Christain view on this?
Could it be that the prayers of the Catholic Priest now replaces that of the chief priest in order to save the dada child from death while cutting the hair?
Does anyone have or know of any personal experience with dreadlocks?
During our deliberations at the Sunday evening instruction, women whose children had dada hair were asked if they ever visited a deity before getting those children, and the response was no. Meanwhile, some persons narrated their experiences or encounter with dada hair child. A Rev. Sr. mentioned how she prayed to a dada child and cut the hair and till date, nothing happened to the child. Another said that a dada child was cut by an adult who had it, without observing those rituals and nothing happened. A caring mother, narrated how she cut her child’s hair by herself and nothing happened to her. However, there was a story of a boy, who had dada for about two years and after cutting it arbitrarily, he stopped walking and talking till today. Besides, some people have a belief that it’s only a hairstyle. The trend is now changing as with the advent of modernization, many of them are now being largely accepted into mainstream societies. Families are also increasingly locking the hair of their children and hence it is generally hard to even distinguish a natural born dada and a made one.
Following from the above, it was resolved that these are just children born with hair most communities in Nigeria aren’t comfortable with. And the emergence of such hair could have been as a result of abnormal formation of the child during pregnancy as well as malnutrition by the nursing mother. Above all, we lent credence to the encyclical of Pope St. John Paul II “Fides et Ratio” to emphasize the importance of faith and human reasoning while attending to certain African beliefs

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