By Nathalie Bonney @nathaliebonney

IT’S BEEN 10 years since Asha Mandela claimed the Guinness World Record for the longest dreads in the world - but how long are her locks now?

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Videographer / director: Marcus Cooper
Producer: Nathalie Bonney, James Thorne
Editor: Marcus Cooper

Asha’s two longest dreads, which she affectionately refers to as her ‘antennae’, measure an incredible 110ft – more than the length of three double decker buses.

Asha, who was recently on a trip to the UK, visited the Quattro Lounge in Wellingborough for a day of pampering suburban style. And staff at the beauty salon, which is located within a leisure centre, took full advantage of the nearby squash courts to measure Asha’s dreads.

Not even the industrial length 30-metre tape measure was long enough to measure Asha’s hair, which snaked past two squash courts, into the adjoining corridor before finishing in the Quattro lounge, a beauty salon that specialises in ‘no mirror makeovers’.

In spite of their length – and weight (Asha hasn’t weighed them recently but says last time she did, about three years ago, they were “somewhere between 25-30 pounds or maybe 40”) the 55-year-old insists she won’t cut them, claiming her dreads have a spiritual connection.

She told Barcroft TV: “My spirituality came through the energy in my hair, so when I do readings and whatever everything works through my hair.

“I would hope that the spirits would not request me to cut it at some point because I am really attached and we have a bond and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“When I see a piece that is thinning or looks like it is gonna break off, I start panicking.

“I feel like if I lose a little piece it is like a piece of me.”

Keeping these pieces of her in a small bag, Asha has built up quite a collection. She takes supplements and her own specially blended hair oil treatment to keep her hair as healthy as possible.

She said: “A lot of people have the misconception that locks is dirty. I don’t get mad anymore because I used to be like that.

“I wash my scalp probably two or three times a week to make sure that I don’t have a build up of dirt and sweat in my scalp but the full length [I do] once a week.”

Originally from Trinidad & Tobago, Asha now lives in Florida, with her hair stylist husband Emmanuel Chege.

Emmanuel gave up his salon – and life – in Kenya - to care for his wife’s locks full time.

Asha said: “Because his salon was in Nairobi, he closed it up and everything and moved here and dedicated the whole time into working with my hair - always untangling, making sure if there’s any thinning areas we tie little knots in it because we don't want it to break off.”
While washing Asha’s hair is a lengthy operation that she can no longer do by herself:

She said: “There was a time I could stand in the shower but then that was really heavy too, so now I would sit with my back against the tub and my husband would fill up the tub and dump it in there, let it soak for 10 or 15 minutes with some bubble bath or peppermint shampoo and then he treats it like you are hand washing clothes.

“Then we use huge towels to absorb the water and once we’ve got a lot of that water out, I sit outside the sun hits really hard in my driveway and we spread it on a sheet and it is dry in two hours.”

Asha was awarded the title of Guinness World Record holder in 2008 when her dreads measured 8 feet 6 inches, this was updated to 19 feet 6 inches, in 2009, when her knots were taken out and the full length of her dreads was accurately measured.

Since then Asha’s Rapunzel-esque hair has increased dramatically in length but

In 2015 Guinness World Records announced it would rest the longest dreadlock category because hair extensions and re-attachments of broken off dreadlocks made it impossible to adjudicate accurately.

For Asha, world record or no record, she is determined to keep growing her dreads.

“I can never cut my hair, this is forever.”