Tattoos, locks and piercings in Nigeria are sometimes regarded at best as a sign of non-conformism, hostile, at worst associated with criminal behavior. A new campaign, #MORETHANINKANDLOCS, increases awareness about the risks of normalized beauty to combat prejudices and stereotypes.
Here’s a trailer and a few stories from the series
Bankole Oluwafemi, the Editor-In-Chief of Tech Cabal and co-founder of Big Cabal Media describes himself as ‘your average boring person’, he still gets pulled aside at the airport to get searched for drugs. Why? His hair fits into society’s description of bad and extremely dangerous.
Talking with Bankole, he shares his story behind his locs and the reactions many may have had towards his hair. On some days, he is referred to as Basketmouth’s brother or catcalled by random people saying “Rasta! Rasta! Rasta!”. As a young entrepreneur, he has had issues with the corporate sectors because of his hair.
Owning his narrative, Bankole is #MORETHANINKANDLOCS as he says “I am other things that have nothing to do with my hair, and I’ll appreciate it if people would just act accordingly.”
The second episode of #MORETHANINKANDLOCS features Amanda Iheme. Amanda is a psychotherapist at Ndidi Health and an architectural photographer.
Stepping into the studio, Amanda radiated an air of confidence and calmness. Talking with her, she shared that even though people love her hair she still gets questions like, “is this actually growing from your head?”. To this, her most common reaction is to pull out her loc and say “yeah that’s my hair, it’s attached to the root of my head!”
About her tattoos, Amanda says; “tattoos are not bad, tattoos are not evil, tattoos are not you trying to scar your skin, tattoos will not prevent you from going either going to heaven or hell because what matters is what’s in your heart.”
Reacting to the stance of the Nigerian Police and the society’s approach towards people who have locs and tattoos, she says, “Buhari does not have tattoos and dreads. Atiku does not have tattoos and dreads. All the politicians, even the people who have organized coups in the past years do not have tattoos and dreads but they are still dickheads anyways”.
The third episode of #MORETHANINKANDLOCS features Funfere Koroye. Funfere Koroye is an Industrial Designer and Product Developer with years of experience. Cool, calm and collected, Funfere told us a story behind his tattoos and their meanings, like the most famous being the mask of the Benin Empire which is still being held by the British. To Funfere, his tattoos are “sort of like a bit of education.” Despite not having any bad reactions, Funfere has had bad experiences especially with “people not taking him seriously during job interviews or pitching work to clients. Because in the mind of Nigerians especially our elders, someone with tattoos somehow would mess up their project or not do the work well.”
About his tattoos, Funfere says “I never really understood how ink on my skin stops me from being who I am. I mean I am a hardware designer, it’s like the work is on the computer, it’s not happening on the surface of my skin.” But he was ready to be denied opportunities, and it was their loss. Sharing his opinion on society’s bias towards tattoos, Funfere says “if you don’t want to work with me based on how I look, or if you don’t want to work with me based on how I dress, then the problem is with you, not me.”