The other day I pondered aloud to my friend Brian, “Haile Selassie didn’t have dreadlocks, so why do Rastafarians have them?”

The next day I was reading an interview with Michael Wilson, a former Rastafarian who had become a Christian, in the ‘Road to Emmaus’ magazine when I read these words:

Dreadlocks were first introduced to Jamaica from a National Geographic photo of an Ethiopian Coptic monk with dreads who had come from his monastery down to the city to preach the Gospel. So, in 1930’s Jamaica, when people saw this picture of a monk with his Bible, his staff, and his dreadlocks, they began doing the same things that we came to as Rastas in the 70’s — growing their dreads, reading their Bibles. They could see there was something real in these pictures and they tried to reach it by copying what they saw, just as I did fifty years later.



11 Responses to “dread”

  1. David S. Says:

    amazing… is this true?

  2. Sophocles Says:

    Really cool information.

  3. victoria Says:

    hmm. I have more than one orthodox friend who will be very happy to read this. 🙂

  4. Margi Says:

    Curiouser and curiouser. Some monastic beards do get rather dreadlocky looking now that I think of it.

  5. aaron Says:

    Funny you should mention this. Just heard a great story on NPR yesterday that relates directly to this:



  6. Sophocles Says:


    That was awesome.

  7. Mimi Says:

    I’ve heard that Bob Marley actually became Ethiopian Orthodox prior to his death, but I don’t know if that is actually true.

  8. aaron Says:



    Read the article and be sure to click on the interview with Abuna Yesehaq who baptized Marley in his final days.

  9. Margi Says:

    Marley sure recorded some irresistably memorable songs – I hope he was Christ’s at the end.

  10. papa herman Says:

    Prior to his repose Bob Marley was baptised on Nov 4, 1980 in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, he was given the name ‘Berhane Selassie. (this is mentioned in the book “Catch a Fire” by Timothy White. If you are interested in Bob Marley’s life this book is reccomended.)

    Also, there is a video on the life of Bob Marley where you see that his funeral is an Ethiopian Orthodox funeral.

    After his repose both Rastafarians and Ethiopian Orthodox try to claim Marley as their own….

    Also, for those interested in Marley’s music; Norman Reddington wrote about different songs of Marley’s which you can read here: http://hem.passagen.se/ielbo/wail/wailerhu.htm

  11. Ras Scott Says:

    Greetings Papa Herman!
    Thank you for inviting me to post a comment on your blog. True, Haile Selassie didn’t have dreadlocks as he grew older, but he did when he was a youth. However, we don’t seek to BE His Majesty, we seek to serve him. Although, in the early days of Rastafari, Rastafarians did wear beards to emulate him. They were known as beardsmen and they didn’t wear locks. There are many beardsmen in Jamaica still. In some ways growing a beard in this society is more of an afront than locks. You can’t hide your beard. Especially in that time in Jamaica, beards were considered dirty and uncivilized.

    An early Rastafari group in Jamaica, the Youth Black Faith began to grow their locks. It was a denial of colonial british standards. It was a form of anciency. It was a way to connect with the African spirit in a time before scissors and comb. It was a rejection of society and an acceptance of Africa. All of these things were symbolized in the seemingly simple act of throwing away the scissors and comb. Dreadlocks were and are a symbol of the path you are trodding. There is alot of energy associated with locks. Look at Samson, who was a Nazarite. In Judges 16:15 Samson says, “7 So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite set apart to God since birth. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.”

    In Numbers 6:5 it says, “All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.”

    When Rastafarians read these verses in their bibles, it was seen as more support for their decision to seperate themselves unto the Most High, Jah Rastafari.

    In Psalm 132:18, it states, “His enemies will I clothe with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.”

    Our covenant of locks is our crown of glory. Slave masters told the slaves that their lot was to be slaves and they must accept their lot because they would get their crown of glory when they reached heaven. InI reject this and proudly wear our crown now knowing that all blessing will be bestowed on us in LIFE not death.

    I know I touched on a lot of different topics here, but you will find that each Ras will give you a different reason for why he chooses to wear the covenant. I sought to represent a variety of reasons. Also, as to Bob being baptized by the EOC. Yes this is true, but contrary to what many think this was not a rejection of Haile Selassie. Many Rastfarians belong to the EOC are accepted fully in the church yet still maintian the divinity of Selassie. In fact Rita Marley is the worlds largest donor to the EOC, yet is a firm knower in Selassie. Things aren’t always so clean cut. Such is life, there are always more veils to be penetrated.

    Thank you, Papa Herman, for the opportunity to reason. I look forward to further reasonings.
    One Perfect Love!
    -Ras Scott

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