True Power

True Power

Thursday, November 12, 2009

WOW! That is a head of dreads!

Longest dreadlocks-world record set by Asha Mandela

DAVENPORT, Fla., USA -- Asha Mandela, of Davenport in Polk County, has an impressive hair: the longest of her locks 8 feet, 9 inches long-setting the world record for the Longest dreadlocks.

Photo: Mandela's dreadlocks, which she started growing 20 years ago, are longer than she is tall. She cradles her locks in her arms like a baby. She wraps it around her neck like a scarf. She lets it hang down her back and trail behind her like a bridal veil. / Photo by George Skene, Orlando Sentinel (enlarge photo)

Asha Mandela, who is originally from Trinidad, said she first cut all of her hair off and began growing the 20-year dreads while she was living in New York.

She said she occasionally considers cutting the dreadlocks but she has become too attached to the style to let it go.

"As much as I love it, I get frustrated with it," she said. "But then I realize I'd feel naked without it."

Ryan Spinella, executive assistant to the city administrator of Longwood, Fla., was one of the witnesses on hand to verify the measuring of Mandela's locks. "I couldn't say what to compare it with. Just a lot of hair," Spinella said. "You don't believe it until you measure it, really."

Originally from Trinidad, Mandela started growing her dreads when she decided to stop using chemicals on her hair while she was living in Brooklyn, N.Y.

She cut it all off and, as it grew back, began corkscrewing it into curls that in turn were twisted together into dreadlocks. Before her dreads were long enough to hang down, they stuck out from her head like long black fingers.

Mandela's hair is her pride. It is much like a child she has raised from infancy for 20 years. She even calls it her baby. But like a child, eight feet of hair is both a blessing and a burden.

She wrings out the water as you would a wet beach towel. When the days are hot, and she takes it out by the pool in the backyard, it takes two hours to dry. When it's humid and cloudy or cool outside, it might take all day for her wet hair to lose its dampness. "I try not to have any errands that day," said Mandela, 46

Mandela says she "used to wash it three times a week. Now I do it once a week. It's very tiring. Sometimes I don't have the energy." It takes one bottle of shampoo and one bottle of conditioner every time she washes her hair.

My hair is just now brushing the top of my shoulder blades and washing it is a chore. It is hot most of the year where I live and my hair air dries quickly. I use tons of shampoo and conditioner, but not as much as Mandela. I don't know how long I am going to let mines get, but I don't want to carry them around.


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