A brief commentary on African headdress

When I first moved to the USA, I was shocked to find that wearing a hat or head covering of any sort was immediately equated to having a bad day. In African culture, that couldn’t be further from the truth. We wear hats and tie up our hair in scarves and wrap as an expression of our style. Yes, sometimes we are covering up the mess that is our hair but most times, we are wearing that hat or hair tie because it screams our name and it looks just absolutely fabulous on.

There is no doubt that Sunday hats (for church) have played a pivotal role in the relevance of hats to the African woman’s wardrobe. Perhaps the bigger influence though is our traditional attire. The traditional scarves and head-ties are synonymous with the branding”African.” In big bold colors with length and girth to fill any room or stadium. I remember as a child, wearing hats for church, weddings and special occasions and begging my mother to let me wear her super cool flashy hats or tie a scarf for me to wear out. My outfits just were not complete without a head dress. As a Nigerian, a headdress is always necessary.


I went back home to Nigeria this last christmas and one of my favorite pictures (above) was of a woman returning home from the market. In her wheelbarrow, she has the materials and scarves that they use in tying the scarves, and I think she not only sells the scarves but ties them as well– I am not too sure. I just was taken by the fact that she went to market everyday, all dolled up with her scarf on and looking like a million bucks. I saw her almost everyday for a week, and each time she wore a different and still fantastic looking scarf.

It’s true, there are some women who make their living tying this stiff fabric into big bold scarves– my mother has a few of these women on retainer. Here are some more pictures of scarves.

My family members in a wedding procession (we are REALLY big on uniform) that would not have been complete without the headgear.

A mobile telecommunications advertisement playing on our traditional headdress.

Hats, scarves, head dress, whatever, it’s what we do.

Photos courtesy of inky@zedhair.com.
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