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Rastafarian is a religion like any other, High Court rules


The High Court on Friday ruled that Rastafarian movement in Kenya is a religion just like any other and they should be treated as the rest.

The Court was pronouncing itself in a case were a man had moved to court to challenge a school’s directive to send away his daughter because of having dreadlocks.

The girl’s father claimed that his daughter has dreadlocks because his family subscribes to the Rastafarian faith.

Justice Chacha Mwita judgement ruled that the decision by Olympic High School to expel her from school because of her dreadlocks was unconstitutional, saying it is a manifestation of her religion.

The father had sued the board of governors of Olympic High School, the Ministry of Education and the Attorney General.

Justice Mwita said that religion and schools should not interfere with the education of a teenage girl who has kept dreadlocks.

HER FAITH

“A child has a constitutional right to basic education keeping rastas is her way of professing her faith and it’s wrong to compel her to shave which is against her religion,” he said.

In January, the girl narrated how the deputy principal summoned her over the lunch hour and asked her to choose to cut her hair or leave the school.

“I was called by the deputy principal over lunch hour where she ordered me to remove my headscarf stating that only Muslims are allowed to cover their hair,” she said.

A week later, the school was forced to comply with orders requiring it to allow the girl to resume her studies pending determination of the case.

Her parents said they had indicated in her admission documents that she belongs to the Rastafarian Society of Kenya (RSK).

The father in the suit papers had said that the action of the school amounted to discrimination on the basis of her Rastafarian beliefs.

Article 30 (1) of the Constitution states that every person has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion.