Malawi Rastas to petition President Banda for children to attend school in dreadlocks

Malawi Rastafarian community will seek an audience with President Mrs Joyce Banda to petition government on the disguised state’s denial of the rastas `freedom of worship’.

Leader of Rastafarian for Unity, Ras Judah, said the Rastas movement  were not happy with the rebuff by ministry of education on their request to allow their children to attend classes in dreadlocks.

Minister of Education Eunice Kazembe has said they can’t allow the practice, saying doing so would send a wrong message to other pupils.

She said Malawi school rules and regulations do not allow children to have plaited hair or dreadlocks.

“Ministry of Education will not allow any religious sect to showcase its beliefs in classrooms. Every student is supposed to follow the Ministry of Education Code of Conduct,” said Kazembe.

Rasta pupils: No classes in dreadlocks

Ras Judah said dreadlocks are a component of their religion and thus their children have a right to enrol in government schools, saying they will seek an audience with  President Banda “so that we should be assisted.”

He said: “Yeah man, Rasta like any citizen has a right to education. Why discriminate against our children”

Rastafarians sought the intervention from the ministry of education after authorities at a school in Thyolo booted out Rasta children from school because they wore dreads.

Ras Judah said the late president Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika had instructed school heads in his home area- Thyolo-  to allow rasta children in government schools.

He said the continued ban of their children from school is depriving them of a right to education, contravening the UN charter on the rights of children.

The much-maligned sect also wants the Head of State to extend presidential appointments to members of Rastafari community who may be equally competent and qualified for such positions.

Another controversial issue the Rastas want is to freely use cannabis.

The Rastafarians argue that smoking the drug locally knowns as ‘chamba’ is part of their religious doctrine which must be respected and upheld.

But Cannabis is illegal in Malawi and police are sparing no one, Rasta or non-Rasta, in their crackdown on suspects.

The movement claims they are also Malawians who participate in the development of the country and should be treated equeally.

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