Having started his body piercing life style in 2000, David Kizza Kana says the body art is not only a celebration to him but reflects the good and bad he has been through in life.
Davis Kizza Kana aka, Rasta Kana has 83 piercings on his body, making him Uganda’s most pierced man.
He has piercings mainly on his face; 20 on both ears, 14 in his eyebrows, 10 in his nose and his lips, two in his tongue, four in the mouth.
Kana has one piercing in the chin and neck and another in his genital area.
“I have 83 piercings so far. When there are changes in future I will add more. But for now because of the coronavirus pandemic we are not allowed to work or travel,” Rasta Kana tells Sunday Monitor.
The calm and soft-spoken rastafarian, who started this lifestyle in 2000, says his favourite body piercings are the smile, vampire and nose rings.
He reveals that silver is his favourite jewellery.
“I prefer silver because it is the best for my skin. It is easy to clean and replace – but expensive,” he says.
On why he opted for body piercings and not any other lifestyle,Rasta Kana says: “The interesting thing about body piercing is when someone talks about this lifestyle he or she is talking about something real, what he or she sees. They look at what the person is having and not the character, and not what you think or who you are inside. Some people like my looks and some don’t come near me.”
As to when and why he decided to take on this lifestyle, Rasta Kana says “Somehow in this journey or transformation of life when you observe society, family and friends you will realise that you are on your own. You are looking for self-discovery, peace and comfort for yourself. You know that this is who you are and want to be. You want to bring out who you are inside to be recognised outside.”
He adds that for one to discover themselves, it takes them a while because of the restrictions by family or religious ties.
“You ask, ‘how are they going to take me? Then you discover that the people will accept the way you are with time. They may know you as a good, helpful and positive person in society. Just because of your creativity or lifestyle you are still the same person and nothing has changed.”
Rasta Kana says this unique body art and lifestyle has brought him happiness, a good image, fame and recognition. “Body piercing means everything to me. I saw the advantage of combining body piercing with the Rastafari belief ‘I and I’ (indicating the presence of the Holy Spirit within the person), dreadlocks and body building.”
“I am happy about it because my parents are rich people in their minds and souls for they did not criticise or stop me. They only said that ‘if that is who you are, and makes you happy and want to be, it’s okay.”
Kana reveals that the piercings have given him a good image in the media, community and workplace.
“Someone will see you once and never forget you. And when someone sees you he or she wants to know the story behind the style,” Rasta Kana says.
He believes society has accepted him because of his character.
Rasta Kana earns his daily bread at Azimarino Fitness Gym, Fusion Spa More Than A Car Wash, and Cybex Fitness Club.
However, not all has been bliss as other people scorn him for the many piercings. Some people refer to his body art as a form madness.
“I have experienced physical attacks and abuses. People have called me evil man, illuminati, and the two derogatory terms for a homo-sexual male battyman and chi-chi man.”
Rasta Kana says he pays less attention to such ill treatment because he is a one man army. But I know what to do with the physical attacks as a fitness trainer.” What I do is I leave the place because I don’t give them attention.”
Kana, who last did body piercing in 2016 from Nairobi, Kenya says he only pays for the piercings whenever he travels out of the country.
“I have not done any in Uganda although there are some body piercing artists I can recommend in Kampala,” he reveals.
Eric Dash Sentamu, a Ugandan tattoo artist, says body art has overtime been growing in Uganda as a result of an appeal from international celebrities wearing body art exhibited on social media.
“For example, Ugandans will want to imitate the tattoos of their favourite football stars in Europe,” Sentamu observes.
He adds: “Of late, body art has become trendy in Uganda unlike in the past where parents thought of one as a rebellious child. But still, it has a long time to pick up because we need more trained body artists with specialised skills in the different forms of body adornment. The market for body art is not yet fully embraced in Uganda like it is in the West.”
Rasta Kana says his body piercings are not only a celebration but reflection of what happens in his life.
“My life journey has been both good and bad, because when we have the ups and downs that is what makes us grow. You will know the right and wrong paths that you have taken in your life. And you can’t change the past but you can change the future.”
Wikipedia describes body piercing as a form of body modification, practice of puncturing or cutting a part of the human body, creating an opening in which jewelry may be worn, or where an implant could be inserted.
Although the history of body piercing is obscured by popular misinformation and by a lack of scholarly reference, ample evidence exists to document that it has been practiced in various forms by both sexes since ancient times throughout the world, Wikipedia adds.
The information site adds that ear piercing and nose piercing have been particularly widespread and are well represented in historical records and among grave goods.
The oldest mummified remains ever discovered were sporting earrings, attesting to the existence of the practice more than 5,000 years ago. Nose piercing is documented as far back as 1500 BC. Piercings of these types have been documented globally, while lip and tongue piercings were historically found in African and American tribal cultures.
Nipple and genital piercing have also been practiced by various cultures, with nipple piercing dating back at least to Ancient Rome while genital piercing is described in Ancient India c. 320 to 550 CE.
The history of navel piercing is less clear.
The practice of body piercing has waxed and waned in Western culture, but it has experienced an increase of popularity since World War II, with sites other than the ears gaining subcultural popularity in the 1970s and spreading to mainstream in the 1990s, Wikipedia adds.
According to mentalhelp.net, like tattoos, body piercing has an extensive history across both ancient and modern cultures.
While it is not uncommon for youth to decide that they want their ears pierced (once or multiple times), other youth choose less conventional piercing locations such as tongues, noses, belly buttons, or even intimate body parts, such as genitalia and nipples.
Any body part can be pierced where a flap of skin can be punctured with a hole and fitted with a post, rod, hoop, or other piece of jewelry. Most piercings are created when an electric-powered “gun” quickly punctures the skin and a piece of jewelry is simultaneously inserted into the hole just created.
The common pierced body parts around the world today are the ear, nose, lip and tongue, nipple, navel and genital areas.
Sentamu reveals that the popular piercings in Uganda are on the naval, ears, eyebrows and tongue.
Accepted form of body art
Mediazink.com observes that piercing is today considered an accepted form of body art. It is not just a hobby anymore as it has become a multibillion dollar industry with young men and women being almost crazy about this form of self-expression and individuality.
For example, according to John LaRosa, tattoos and body art in the US have soared in popularity lately, especially among Millennials, fueling an industry comprised 20,000 tattoo parlors or studios. The industry, which also includes body piercing and tattoo removal, is estimated to be worth $3 billion, and is growing strongly.
“The boom in “body art” is due in partto a more professional generation of trained artists doing better work. But artists note that in the past three to four years, their clients have included a growing number of middle-age suburbanites. A lot of tattoo artists also attribute the increase to more exposure via reality TV tattoo shows such as LA Ink, Ink Master and Best Ink,” LaRosa says.
“Today, over one-third of 25-29 year-olds have at least one tattoo, and artists and polls alike demonstrate that women comprise half of those who get tattoos,” LaRosa adds in a blog titled “Tattoo Parlors & Tattoo Removal Is Now a Booming $3b Industry.”
“Infection is the greatest risk to piercings,” mentalhelp.net warns. “If piercings are not performed by a qualified professional, adhering to strict hygienic procedures, serious infections can be spread from one client to the next, including HIV, hepatitis, and tetanus. Even if the piercing is performed hygienically, infections still can occur. This is because the skin is the body’s armor against infectious agents from entering the body. Thus, piercing this armor increases the risk of infection.”
“Following a piercing procedure, youth will receive very specific instructions about how to care and clean the pierced area. If youth do not faithfully follow these instructions they will most like acquire an infection. Piercing infections are especially common in nose and tongue piercings. This is because the nose and mouth are places in the body that already harbor many, many germs,” mentalhelp.net adds in an article titled “Body Piercing.”
“I wash my face every morning with my jewellery on. I have done this for the last 10 years now. I stopped removing the jewellery for cleaning because whenever I removed them I would lose them. I now use a body piercing spray twice in a day to cleanse my piercings when I move out and return to my house,” Rasta Kana reveals.
According to mentalhelp.net, aside from infection, youth also risk uncontrollable bleeding at the time of piercing as well as nerve damage if a piercing is put in the wrong place. Youth can also develop abscesses or boils and excessive inflammation after the piercing. If youth ever decide to remove a piercing, some piercings may not heal perfectly and leave scarring. Furthermore, mouth piercings can have secondary physical side effects. The metal in the mouth can cause dental problems, like chipped teeth, as well as gum problems.
“When it comes to whoever wants to practice this art all that has to be used has to be sterilized. All the body piercing needles are imported as single use items and discarded immediately after use. Before every piercing procedure you have to open the sealed needle in the presence of your client for him or her to prove that it has not been tampered with,” Sentamu notes.
Sentamu, who holds a Diploma in Graphic Art, runs the Wayside Tattoo Studio at the Kenya Cinema building on Moi Avenue in Nairobi, Kenya.
He notes that the East African region is yet to create body art certification bodies to regulate the industry.
As to the health dangers associated with body piercings, Rasta Kana argues: “If people think of the dangers in their lifestyles then life would not exist. In life we take our chances to do things to be where we are and where we want to be. We take risks. There is no easy journey in life. Our journeys in life are never straight, there are ups and downs. Good people will come and so are the bad ones. It is good to be true and loyal to yourself.”
Rasta Kana is a fashion model, fitness instructor, dancer and dance instructor and hair stylist specialising in dreadlocks. He says he has been making a living mainly from holding dance classes and fitness training for body builders for the last six years. His last fashion modelling gig was at the Kampala Serena Hotel on December 7, 2018 during the Abryanz Style and Fashion Awards (ASFAS).
Asked whether he would encourage someone to take on his lifestyle he says “I get very many people who want to be like me. And I ask them ‘why do you want to look like me?’ And they say ‘we have seen you for a longtime. You are a good person and famous.’ And I tell them that you need some time to think about what you want, where you will be and where you are now before you take on this lifestyle. I have a few who have ear piercings only but the majority lose interest. The journey for this lifestyle is a hard one. Next year I will make 10 years of this lifestyle.
“When asked if he plans to change the way he looks in future, Rasta Kana replied: “I have never thought of changing my lifestyle because you don’t know what the future brings.”
Born on March 17, 1982 to Mulindwa Kagwisa and Nassim Nyadoyi, Kana holds a Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education. He has 11 siblings.
Although he was born in a strict Muslim family, he no longer practices Islam. “The last time I practiced Islam was 17 years ago. The reason is that I did not study much of Islam in school that is why I lost interest. And the people around me at that time did not practice what they preached.”
BODY PIERCING WORLD RECORDS
According to the Guinness World Records, the ‘Most Pierced Man’ is Rolf Buchholz, from Dortmund, Germany, who had 453 piercings, including 158 around his lips, as of August 5, 2010.
He has 16 in his right ear, 15 in his left ear, 25 in his eyebrows, 8 in his nose, 94 in and around his lips, 2 in his tongue, 8 in the rest of his body, 3 in his nipples, 4 in his navel and 278 in the genital area.
According to the Guinness World Records, the ‘Most Pierced Woman’ is Elaine Davidson (Brazil/UK), who, on examination on May 4, 2000, was found to have a total of 462 piercings: 192 piercing on her facial area including ears, forehead, eye brows, chin, nose and tongue (30), 56 piercings on her body including stomach, breasts and hands and 214 adorning her pubic area (internal and external).
Davidson also holds the record of the ‘Most Piercings in a Lifetime (Female).’ Since first receiving a skin piercing in January 1997, she has been pierced a total of 4,225 times as of June 8, 2006.
Davidson, a former restaurant owner, is constantly adding and replacing jewellery, mostly in her face. She enhances her exotic looks with tattoos and brightly coloured make-up, and often wears feathers and streamers in her hair.
The Guinness World Records, indicates that the ‘Most Surgical Needle Piercings in One Session’ is 4,745 in 9 hours and 13 minutes, was achieved by Matthew Menczyk and Russ Foxx (both Canada) at Human Kanvas Tattoo and Piercing in Calgary, Alberta, Canada on December 22, 2015.
Matthew and Russ beat the previous record that they held in order to achieve this new record title.