The people of Malawi have applauded an order issued recently by a High Court Judge Zione Ntaba to the Malawian government to enable children with dreadlocks to be admitted to public schools. This move was regarded as an ingenious and bold move in shaking off colonial misconceptions of beauty.
The Malawi court order was issued after a pupil lodge a complaint of being denied admission into Blantyre Girls Primary School on account of her dreadlocks. Makeda Mbewe, an eight-year-old Standard 5 pupil said she was denied admission from the school unless she was ready to cut her hair. The court commanded in its order that the child should be admitted at the school and the school should strive to create extra classes for the pupil in order to catch up on the time that was lost. The High Court order now enables children to be enrolled in any governmental institutions which had not been happening previously. Although, the case is currently ongoing and a final judgment is yet to be made, according to the reports from Malawi.
For centuries self-expression and individuality in African schools has been given little or no recognition. Teachers, policy makers and most Africans inherited systems that degraded African culture and have continued with the colonial master’s system.
These colonial views of beauty are still invoked in the way the world regards light-skinned women against their darker counterparts. Colorism means “discrimination against black-skinned people that grants economic, cultural, and social privileges to lighter-skinned people within the same racial or ethnic group”.
However, Malawi’s Ministry of Education authorities have defended their policy saying that they only refused to enroll dreadlocked children into schools because they were aiming to keep in line with education policy which aims to have uniformity among pupils.
It should be clearly stated that in this 21st century, there are so many creative minds walking and wandering around but governments restriction have placed some on house arrest, which makes them afraid of exhibiting their talents for the world to see.
In this contemporary world, children should be allowed to set their own rules and should not allow restriction affect their thinking process making them believe that success comes by repeating the same style.
According to Makeda’s lawyer, Chikondi Chijozi, who also serves as deputy director at Centre for Human Rights Advice Assistance and Education(CHREAA), the NGO had received a complaint, almost 80 parents who complained of their children’s infringement to the right of education.
Africans can adapt without losing touch of their identity, it can achieve growth without having to speak, dress, eat and act like Westerners.