Producer Dale Virgo Thrilled As Daughter Overcomes Dreadlocks Controversy, Enters Campion College

Music producer Dale Virgo is thrilled that his 12-year-old daughter, who gained the attention of the Dancehall/Reggae community in 2020 after the Supreme Court ruled that her school’s ban on her dreadlocks was “not unconstitutional”, has excelled in her PEP exams and will be attending Campion College.

On July 31, 2020, a day before Emancipation Day, the Supreme Court had ruled that the decision by the Kensington Primary School principal to bar the then seven-year-old from attending the institution with dreadlocks, was not unconstitutional.

The ruling had been met with indignation by the Jamaican populace and a slew of Jamaican artistes inlcuding Agent Sasco, Bounty Killer, Kabaka Pyramid, Vybz Kartel, Songstress Ce’Cile, Skatta Burrell, Tanya Stephens, Foota Hype and Konshens.

But on Saturday, it was celebrations for Virgo as he revealed that Zahara had passed her Primary Exit Profile (PEP) exams with flying colours and would be attending Campion College in St. Andrew, which is Jamaica’s top-ranked high school.

“Congrats to my daughter @zaharavirgo for passing for Campion College. They tried to prosecute her and kick her out of school because of her hair, because she has locs, but we empowered her to be the best person she can be, to aim high and achieve her dreams. I’m proud of her. A new chapter,” he noted on Instagram where he shared images of his daughter.

“I would like to also thank Porters Prep for taking her in after we decided to remove her from Kensington Primary. It was truly a much better environment for her and she truly loved her new school and friends. My daughter is an example to anyone that you can be great, no matter what your hair or skin color look like!” he added.

The hair dispute had erupted in 2018 after reports surfaced that the child, who was five years old at the time, was initially accepted to the St. Catherine-based school, but her parents were later told by the school principal, that her locks would have to be cut.

Virgo and his wife had filed a claim at the time, arguing that the school’s policy against the hairstyle was in breach of her constitutional rights.

Dale Virgo

When the 2020 ruling was made, a strident Bounty Killer had superimposed an ‘X’ on a ‘Jamaican Happy Emancipation Day’ photo on Instagram, and declared that Emancipation Day was “cancelled until Rasta free”.

Reggae singer Kabaka Pyramid, who had disclosed to the media in 2018 that he faced discrimination at his former high school, Campion College, for growing his locks, had expressed strong frustration.

The Kontraband singer had vehemently stated that he was fed up with the situation, criticizing Jamaica’s lingering colonial influence with the Queen of England still overseeing the courts.

“Mi disgusted and disappointed but not surprised. Mi a hope seh there is no truth to dis verdict. Some retarded judge rule in favor of dis ignorant school an headmaster for not allowing this beautiful girl and her beautiful hair into their slave yard and indoctrination center,” Kabaka had noted.

“JAMAICA ON A NATIONAL LEVEL DOES NOT ACCEPT RASTAFARI AND OUR LIVITY! …so doh come tell Rasta bout NO EMMANCIPATION AND NO INDEPENDENCE. Mi sick a dis place more time,” the irate artiste continued.

Kabaka also suggested that Rastafarians relocate to Africa or establish their own schools, and also advocated that in the interim parents homeschool their children.

“I learn 50 times more on my own than my 13 years in Jamaica’s education shit-stem. Btw I was banned from Campion Jesuit College campus because of my locs, so I a talk from personal experience. We should all be ashamed a wiself,” he said.

Agent Sasco had described the ruling as “a travesty and real tragedy”, pointing out that it had put a damper on Jamaica’s Independence Day celebrations.

However the then Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte, who had argued that the school’s policy was aimed at the maintenance of an acceptable level of hygiene, as well as the maintenance of discipline and order, had declined to comment on the Court’s ruling.

She had also argued that the actions of the school principal was not done in a bid to discriminate against Rastas.

Back in 2018, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia “Babsy” Grange had said her Ministry would work with government ministries, departments and agencies “to ensure guidance issued on grooming for work or school does not target specific hair textures and hairstyles, race or religion”.

Grange also stated that government policy prohibits discrimination based on religious or cultural practices, affirming that it is not acceptable for anyone in Jamaica to face discrimination or be denied services due to their hairstyle.