Samuel Muhammed is a hairstylist, and a computer engineer who is learning how to develop software. He is currently studying Mass Communication in a private university.
Samuel hopes he achieves his dreams after school working as a broadcaster, and becoming an expert in programming. In this interview, he gives his insight on negative perceptions of unorthodox hairstyles and how it is mostly a way to seek freedom from normative practice.
He also tells of his fight for freedom as he expresses his creativity as he best knows how.
Interview With Samuel Muhammed:
Before the disbandment of SARS in Nigeria, a lot of youths were victims of harassment and arrest for carrying dreadlocks. How was it like for you during that period?
There were a lot of issues then, so I had to cut my hair down. My mom was angry and insisted I cut everything. But I decided to just keep it low.
Back then did you in any way experience any form of harassment based on your looks?
Honestly, some people liked my hair and others didn’t and still don’t. It was either I kept it long or cut it low. Some condemn my hairstyle without any genuine reasons, saying only hoodlums carry such. I think they’re wrong.
How about people born with their hair locked? That’s life for them, and it becomes a lifetime thing for them. People usually tag you as a criminal here for just looking this way. I’m trying to change that perception with my perspective.
As a stylist, I keep dreadlocks to sell what I do. I’ve seen lawyers carrying dreadlocks. What do you think at that point? Would you call him or her a criminal? Or when you see a celebrity like Laycon?
Funny how people don’t complain when you’re making money in seven figures. I don’t think anyone should dictate what kind of hairstyle is best for me.
So, you live in a society or a community like this, but how do you manage your relationship with people?
Well, I just stick to who I am, and I empty my mind to them. And honestly, they do like me for being who I am. And for those who really don’t, then the problem is with them.
How long have you been cutting people’s hair?
For about 6 years now. I became an apprentice when I was in high school. I’ve grown to the point that people trust me with how they look. I’ve been cutting and tinting people’s hair into different colors. A lot of ladies too come around these days to have a gold tint or brown and so on.
People keeping dreadlocks come around for us to touch it a bit. And it’s really good looking when you maintain it. I think people don’t like when it’s looking rough. So, they go blunt on you regardless of how you would feel.
Besides being a hairstylist, I’m studying Mass Communication in school. Lecturers really don’t think it’s okay to carry dreadlocks as a broadcaster. Most times, I attend classes with a beanie on.
And if I’m dressing culturally for a news production, I make sure I put on a cap. I’ve been doing that throughout last semester. I don’t want to cut my hair. But I really don’t want issues with any lecturer, so I’m considering cutting it in order to graduate peacefully.
Sometimes I feel like confronting them to ask why. For example, look at Ehiz who is with MTV Base doing entertainment news with a long dread on.
Generally, how’s life in school considering the pandemic and the health measures in place?
I’m in a private university, and yet it has been difficult. I’ve been able to diversify. I’ve skills in computer engineering, and I’m into programming now building my skills. I thank God for witnessing this day and also having to express myself this way.
Thank you for talking to us, Samuel. It was insightful.
By Elijah Christopher
Elijah Christophe is a journalist at A New Touch Of Africa, is also a creative writer, a poet, and an IT enthusiast. He contributed to the collaborative poem written in celebration of Edwin Morgan Centenary, the first Glasgow poet laureate and Scottish national poet from the University of Glasgow. He loves meeting people and learning about new places, cultures, events, and lifestyles.