Teenager told to cut his dreadlocks by school invited attend to the …
Ishmael Nansolo was not allowed to attend school for three years due to having dreadlocks. An unwritten policy enforced across government schools in Malawi, meant that Ishmael was denied admission due to his dreadlocks.
Ishmael’s hair was an important symbol of his Rastafarian religion. Ishmael’s father, Alli Nansolo told CNN: ‘Rastafari is a spiritual way of life. Keeping dreadlocks is like we are committing ourselves to a vow before the highest creator that we will service him in our life without denying his laws or commandments.’
Alli ‘went to the Women Lawyers Association of Malawi to ask for help,’ after an officer at the Ministry of Education advised Alli to cut Ishmael’s hair so his son could attend school.
The association accepted Alli’s case as he, along with a group of parents, decided to take legal action against the Ministry of Education. They went to court in 2017.
Ishmael, then 15, remained out of school as the court case took place until in 2020 when the Malawi High Court placed an interim order until a final court ruling was reached, compelling public schools to enroll Ishmael and other Rastafari children.
The interim order was already viewed as significant legal victory for Alli and the wide Rastafarian community in Malawi. Although student still faced discrimination with parents having ‘to take the court injunction to the school to compel them to admit them,’ Chikondi Chijozi, Nansolo’s lawyer, told CNN.
After a six-year case, the Malawian High Court finalised ruled that it was unlawful to require students, including Rastafarian children, to cut their hair before they are enrolled in public schools. The ruiling came on May 8.
In response to the ruling, Alli, said: ‘The judgement means that we are now free because most of us in [the] Rastafarian community don’t earn much, so we couldn’t manage to send our children to private schools.’
The ruling came into immediate effect, but the government has until June 30 to issue a nationwide statement mandating acceptance of children with dreadlocks into school.
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