Makeda Mbewe was kicked out of her primary school in Malawi for styling her hair in the dreadlocks of her Rastafarian religion.
Two years later, she is back in school after landmark court ruling in January that forced state schools to allow children wearing their hair the Rastafarian way.
The case was galvanized by her family together interested parties and dozens of other Rastafarian parents to try to push education system to end discrimination against children from the nation’s small religions.
Initially there was no problem when Makeda enrolled at Blantyre Girls Primary School but two years later after her hair grew long and prominent, the six year old Makeda was kicked out.
Rastafarianism is a religious movement tracing its root in Jamaica and considers former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie as its Messiah.
Rastafarians are fond of sporting dreadlocks which for them symbolise the Lion of Judah, one of the late emperor’s titles.
Dreadlocks have gained global recognition due to the cultural influence of the late reggae star Bob Marley, who was a Rastafarian, and even after his passing on, dreadlocks have remained popular world over.
Malawi has 15,000 Rastafarians who have long complained of discrimination because of their hairstyle with government-run schools telling children to shave or cut off the locks, or simply get thrown out of school.
Legal foundation was the courtroom battle and the ministry of education said the ban was justified under a policy that required all pupils to have a smart appearance and keep clean hair.
But lawyers representing the Rastafarian children challenged the ministry to produce documents to prove that the policy existed.