Asha Zulu Mandela
Asha, your locs are beautiful and they are a crown! Recently you became the proud holder of the Guinness World Records for the longest dreadlocks in the world, how did they approach you and is this something you were aiming for?
Greetings Queendom...and to my brothers and sistas all over the world....
To Qualify and become a Guinness World Record holder in any category is solely up to the individual who wishes to be recognized and become a World record holder once approved. Based on my understanding GWR does not go looking for people to break records...it’s a free approach to anyone to wishes the attempt.
I knew my locks had grown very long but I didn't realize just how long they really were for two reasons... one being, for 13 years while struggling with medical problems, I would tie them in lots of little knots to protect them from breakage and also to shorten them since they were hard to manage at that point so I never thought of them as being that long. However, every time I would go out people would comment and compliment me on my locs as to being so long and beautiful and the question always came up, are you in Guinness or Ripley’s. Though it was not something I was actually aiming for...After a while I started thinking that maybe I should look into GWR and see what the requirements is to become a World Record Holder.
After reviewing GWR and seeing that in the hair category held the record for the "longest hair" out of China, but nothing on dreadlocs, i made the application and was approved to do the attempt of which the whole process took about 3-4 months. I was awarded the record in November of 2008.
There is a documented difference in my length in earlier videos of which is not a "typo"...I was so excited and caught up in the rush to attempt the record, I totally forgot to take the time to go through my locks and begin to untie all the knots I had put in through the years to shorten and protect them, so I did the attempt and measured at 8ft 6ins. Once I realized my error, I contacted GWR who then informed me I will have to go through the attempt again and have my locs verified by 2 hairdressers and witnessed by a Notary; public so as to be accurate with the length and its authenticity and to have it modified and updated in their records of which was done live on the "CBS Early show" in November of 2009. With my full length totally let down and for full measurement.
How long are your dreads?
My locs are measured at 19feet 6 1/2 inches long.
I know with long locs, you can develop a few physical problems, such as neck problems, and traction alopecia due to the heaviness. Have you experienced anything of this sort?
Having long locs has not caused me any physical problems nor do I have neck pains. Though my locks is a bit heavy at 4lbs when dry and 10lbs when it’s wet. Through the years I have become very creative in finding ways to carry them of which allows me total freedom from any neck or body strain.
I will like to clarify for concerned fans and admirers. The front of my head may seem like I have a "receding hairline" or “Alopecia" due to weight traction. This is not the case at all. Like lots of women, I have trouble with facial hair and during a facial hair removal a few weeks ago, I unknowingly brushed my hands against my forehead with the hair remover and did not realize it till 3 of my precious locs fell out. Since then, the re-growth has been slow but my hair is growing back and I am grateful it was not much worse.
How long have you been growing your locs? Have you ever thought about cutting them?
I have been growing my locscious crown for 21yrs this past January. Never is a strong word, but I will say...I will NEVER cut my locscious crown. They are my life and my "individual" reason for sanity and wisdom filled conscious growth of my whole being.
How do you sleep with that hair at night?
At night, I lay my locs beside me on the bed to sleep. If they are damp from a late hair wash, I let them drop on a sheet on the floor at the bedside to air dry. They don't get tangled or hinder my sleep in any way at all. I sometimes bundle them up to use as an extra pillow.
How do you groom your locs, and do you have to enlist help? Do you twist tightly to the root?
I have never been to a hairdresser in my life except for the two attempts with GWR for authentication and verification. I wash and maintain my locs myself. I only enlist the help of a family member once every 3-6months when I choose to add color to highlight my crown. I no longer twist tightly at the roots except for a bit of grooming since I need the full body of my roots to support the weight of my crown. I really don't have any styling techniques since my locs are so long to begin to style, so besides an occasional up-do wrap... I always let it flow behind me .
Do you have a product preference that you use on your hair?
I do have a product preference that I use, however since I am working on a project at the moment for a new and improved formula, I cannot comment on that product. I will share that even with previous products and the ones I use now..... I always use virgin olive oil to massage my scalp and roots. Olive oil is a great old school remedy especially for Kinky hair that I think is brilliant and works for me, any brand will do.
You know a lot of people say that they are not their hair, that it has nothing to do with who they are as a person? How do you feel about this?
A lot of people who don't feel their hair have anything to do with them as people are solely individuals. I do believe that be it spiritual or carnal, how one carries themselves on the outside is definitely a reflection of who they are on the inside; Be it hair or clothes. Still one does not have to be all hair-styled up or dressed up expensive or fancy to reflect good heartedness. It’s a matter of cleanliness and good moral values that completes the whole personal package.
Are your locs a spiritual representation of you?
For me as an "individual' my locs is most definitely a spiritual representation of me and my way of life. Choosing to not just go/grow natural but to grow locs was a spiritual awakening that allowed me to find my calling in the balance between nature and religion; and to understand that though "we live in this world...we don't have to partake of all its contents ." Though many people grow locs for different reasons, mainly giving them a closer connection with culture while deleting chemically processed hair...for me and many others like myself, it was a soul searching new beginning that allows one to be a part of the world...but not partake of it and in so doing venture into the realm of all things natural and/or become one with spirituality. I found my spiritual calling and balance as a child of the universe when I started my locs journey and do practice two separate religions of different levels and culture which is Hinduism and Yoruba. Those who don't understand this may wonder why I choose those two religions and not just one, or why I choose either of the two. I say wisdom built a house, as there is diversity of gifts.
My locs is not a style or fashion, it’s a part of my cultural mixture blend that "I" choose to recognize and uphold. It allowed me the strength and courage to search the religious pathway that gave me the solid foundation of which I stand firmly on today.
Do you have any advice for our loc’d Queens? Anything they should or shouldn’t do?
My advice for loc'd Princesses and Queens.....even Princes and Kings...when toying with the decision with going/growing natural. Take a little time to do some soul searching and don't let your decision be a contradiction. You don't have to go/grow natural for spiritual reasons or for a spiritual calling like I have since everyone's pathway is different. However going/growing natural for whatever reason brings about a certain amount of strength and discipline to cope with the pressures of other beliefs which can cause doubt and insecurity.
Even in the learning process, hold on to your self-esteem and know that whether you go through the whole journey or give up and return to old traditions we are all one, yet special and unique in our own way; and going/growing natural does not necessarily mean you are religious or spiritual or even sincere in your heart...since for many, it’s just but a style and fashion statement.
I feel honored to be The Guinness World Record Holder of the "longest Dreadlocs.” I feel blessed to be able to carry and behold such a glorious Crown. I stand humbled to know that I have been an inspiration for so many people all over the world especially Rastafarians and our struggling to be a recognized and accepted LOCS family.......to all my brothers and sista's all over the world, of all races and colors...I love you all...my inspiration is your strength...your strength is my inspiration.......
One Luv and Many Blessings,
Queen, Asha Zulu Mandela
Spoken like a true Queen! Thank you Asha for imparting your wisdom on our family here On the Road to Queendom!
Stay Blessed & Happy Locing!