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Livity: Kenyans divided over landmark Rastafarian judgment

By Mary Wangari September 13th, 2019 2 min read

A landmark ruling made by the High Court regarding a case where a public school refused to admit a minor for failing to shave off her dreadlocks has elicited mixed reactions among Kenyans on social media.

High Court Judge Chacha Mwita on Friday ruled that the school’s demand was unconstitutional as the minor’s dreadlocks were of significance to her faith.

In addition, Justice Mwita emphasized that Rastafarianism was a religion just like any other.

“A child has a constitutional right to basic education. Keeping dreadlocks (rastas) is a way of professing her faith and it’s wrong to compel her to shave which is against her religion,” said the judge.

The ruling follows a petition filed by the minor’s father against Olympic High School, in Kibra constituency, decrying the school’s refusal to admit his daughter, terming it a discrimination against her as well as her faith, Rastafarian.

Earlier on in January 2019, Ndinda had been enrolled into the school following the orders of Justice Mwita pending the determination of the case.


Following the ruling, Kenyans took to social media where the judge received applause and criticism in equal measure.

Rastafarian enthusiasts were ecstatic while some could not hide their displeasure arguing the move would open way for many other groups to demand recognition.

“It’s now my hope that Muslim girls will be granted the same freedom to express their religion in schools,” said Kigen Koech

“This judge must be a Rastafarian too. Such mediocrity, incompetence, and ignorance in law should be punitive!! Where did rastafarian become a religion?” argued J Owaga.

“Freedom of religion is enshrined in our constitution. Big up to the Hon Judge and the court!” wrote Sammie.

Others viewed the ruling as an opening to champion for the legalization of marijuana which has been a contentious issue recently.

“And did you know that the Holy Sacrament for Rastafarianism is Ganja aka Tire! This sets a very good precedence for legalization of marijuana,” said Steve Ochieng.

“Jah favours, I and I Rasta. fall for a Babylon system I tell you. No man can touch the Rasta dread, it’s a symbol of unity and identity you know……can someone pass a sensimila I take a puf,” says Bernard Tonui.