#PoeticLicence: The silver lining that emerged from Crowthorne Christian Academy’s dreadlocks row

Author and poet Rabbie Serumula. File image.

Author and poet Rabbie Serumula. File image.

Published Aug 20, 2023


Johannesburg - There are moments when a seemingly ordinary occurrence casts a revealing spotlight on a much larger issue. Such is the case with the recent closure of Crowthorne Christian Academy in Midrand, north of Johannesburg. Once a bastion of knowledge and virtue, now tarnished by its deceit. The catalyst for this downfall? A single head of hair, adorned not with hair extensions, but with the proud coils of dreadlocks unveiling truth through tangled strands.

This tale began with an altercation that unfolded within the hallowed halls, where a mother’s dismay resonated like a clarion call. Her child, a Grade 8 learner, was unjustly removed from class, and accused of violating a newly minted hair policy. The irony, however, lay in the fact that the school’s interpretation of the policy had gone awry. What they deemed as “extensions” were, in fact, a natural expression of the young learner’s heritage.

In the end, it was this very tangle of hair that unravelled the secret web of illegality in which the school had entrapped itself. Like a beacon of truth, those resilient locks revealed the extent of the school’s misguided convictions and brought to light its illegal operations. The dreadlocks became a potent emblem of resistance, resonating with historical undertones that stretch back to the era of colonialism. Much like the missionaries of old, who believed they held a divine duty to “civilise” and “Christianise” African communities, the school’s actions reflected a similar paternalistic mindset. Under the guise of upholding values, Western cultural norms were imposed upon diverse identities, a narrative that was woven with the threads of oppression.

EFF members picketed outside the Crowthorne Christian Academy under police guard after the school forcibly removed a pupil wearing dreadlocks. Picture: Twitter/EFFGauteng.

In the same way that missionaries used religion to justify their presence and the exploitation of African resources, the school’s stance mirrored a troubling pattern. Both instances deemed their way of life superior and attempted to impose it upon others. The very concept of dreadlocks, once a sacred emblem of African heritage and identity, was relegated to the fringes, much like indigenous practices that were pushed aside in favour of Western paradigms.

However, a silver lining emerged from this cultural confrontation. Just as the unjust actions of the past have ignited powerful movements of resistance and liberation, the incident at the school underscores the enduring importance of preserving one’s roots and celebrating diversity.

It took the power of a single head crowned with dreadlocks to challenge a narrative that had long perpetuated inequality and suppression.

As the doors of the institution closed, it became clear that it takes just one symbol, one story, and one head full of dreadlocks, to unveil the hidden layers of injustice. The closure, while a sombre event, also marked the triumph of truth and unity. It serves as a reminder that even in the face of oppression, a single act of defiance can catalyse change, creating a new chapter in the narrative of inclusivity and cultural pride. The closing of the school is a chance to dismantle the legacy of colonialism’s shadow and reclaim the narrative of African heritage.

The Saturday Star