My name is Bonolo Modise, I am from Johannesburg, South Africa. I am currently a full-time, third year student at the University of the Witwatersrand, studying a Bachelor of Arts in Media studies and English Literature.
How long have you been natural? How long have you been locked?
I have always been natural. My Mother never believed in extensions, especially on young children, she has always been for embracing your natural hair. I only started straightening my hair at the age of 12, but soon returned to growing my afro and eventually decided to get my hair locked in September, 2009.
Why did you decide to loc your hair?
Even though I was taught to embrace my afro, I also wanted to have long hair, but knew that my mother wouldn’t allow me to get any extensions, not even braids. I then came across a salon in Johannesburg that dealt only with dreadlocks. I stepped into that salon that day and I knew then that I definitely wanted to get dreadlocks. My obsession with dreadlocks really started there.
How did your friends/family react to you locking your hair?
My father did not fully agree with me getting dreadlocks, I think that came with the historical stereotypes that were associated with having dreadlocks in our South African communities, namely: being a sangoma (a traditional healer), Rastafarian, The smoking of weed, unprofessionalism and uncleanliness.
What is your hair regimen? Favorite hair products?
For about five years of my loc journey, I have been visiting the salon for groomingand styling my dreads. I would just buy a dreadlock moisturising spray and use that at home. Until one day I decided that I would learn how to take care of my hair better by researching about products that used natural ingredients and that would feed my hair, rather than leaving it damaged and full of product build-up.
My good friend and now Celebrity stylist, Smangele Sibisi (@Smarty_misshair
on Instagram), introduced me to products that my hair needed, and also inspired my hair regimen, which is washing my hair at least once every week, especially when it’s not styled. I also base my scalp with Shea butter, and good oils that keep my hair nourished. I also used a protein spray which I use from root-to-tip. I have also learnt not to over twist my hair, so every 3/4 weeks, I dedicate a day to twist my hair or make an appointment with Smangele for twisting my hair. I also paid her a visit every 3 months for interlocking.
I am now currently using The Dr. Locs products for grooming and maintaining my locks, using a similar process. What I like most about their products is their interlocking spray, which is amazing for twisting my hair, and leaving no build up. Their leave-in conditioner is also amazing.
How does your hair affect your career/lifestyle?
My hair has become a huge part of my identity, and that’s why I am so passionate about it and make sure I take good care of it. I have never found myself in an uncomfortable position because of the type of hair I have. I can manage it well and can proudly embrace it in any occasion. People always say dreadlocks are so limiting in terms of how you can style it or the career you go into. However, I have never felt limited, because I believe if you love your hair, you can make it versatile. This is a conversation I am always a part of. I am going to get into the Public Relations and Branding field, meaning that one needs to be confident enough to work and take care of other people’s brand. I strongly believe that in order for you to do that, you need to be able to run and maintain yourself as a brand before handling the work of other people. I believe I am heading in the right direction.
What is your favorite locstyle, or protective hairstyle?
I absolutely love wearing my hair in a bun, and there are also different bun styles I love playing around with.
How do you manage to retain length/moisture?
I always make sure that I wear a cotton/silk scarf on my head in the evening, after basing my scalp, I found that to help the product deeply penetrate into my hair and in that way my hair doesn't go dry.
What advice can you give those who are thinking about locking their hair?
Make sure that it is something you really want, because hair needs love too. If you feel good about your hair, it WILL look good, because you WILL fall in love with the process of watching it grow and how amazing it will look. Do you change salons too much, your hair really doesn't like to be touched by different hands all the time. Wash your hair, especially if its hot and stay about from blow dryers. Air drying is the way to go!
Would you like to add anything else?
I learnt the hard way. Dreadlocks and peroxide aren’t really good friends. Ease down on colouring your hair. Yes, I have an amazing hair colour now, however I had experienced a lot of breakage a few months after I dyed my hair in 2015 with products that contained peroxide. I have recovered, thankfully and I’ve never touched colour since. Talk to your natural hair specialist and ask about colouring products that would break your hair or make it weak. If you really love your locks, NEVER bleach them.