A headwrap is a piece of clothing worn or wrapped around the head. They have and are being around the world. They are timeless and available in different fabrics; silk, bandana, satin and so on.
Simple or intricate, it has always been a symbol of strength and royalty, especially in Africa. African headwraps were worn by Queens in the early 1700s as part of the royal apparel.
They exist for reasons ranging from ethnical/cultural, religious, functional and fashion values.
The ‘scarf headwrap’ is a trend in both local and international fashion scenes.
African headwraps have different names in different languages. Some examples are:
1. Dhuku ‘duku’:
It’s what a headwrap is called in Ghana and Malawi. It is also known as ‘headscarf’ in Zimbabwe and Zambia. They wear the dhuku sometimes for social functions and as ornaments. It is small and worn in different ways, depending on the nature of the occasion. They are also worn for religious activities.
Gele is what a headwrap is generally called in Nigeria. It can be designed by almost any type of fabric in Nigeria. Its consistent folding or cascading layers are eye-catching.
It was designed to mimic Nigeria’s first high-rise which was the National Theatre in Lagos. It was built to look like a General’s cap. It’s popular and is seen in social and religious functions.
The variant name of headwrap in Botswana.
In Africa, wraps are done by and for women. Irrespective of its name or style, to wear an african headwrap is a symbol of identity.
The humble history of African headwraps
African headwraps weren’t always esteemed. In the colonial era, they were one of the few belongings they could go with when they were taken into slavery.
Over time, the wraps became a badge of their enslavement. Soon they were forced to wear a headwrap for identification. It became stereotypical as they were tagged ‘black mammy’.
Though the slave trade was dissolved, black women working in White’s households were still forced to cover their hair.
An African woman’s pride.
Through it all, the African headwraps have stood the test of time in retaining their definition and worth. It’s still a part of our culture as Africans.
African headwraps designs are different irrespective of the age, marital status and wealth of the woman.
Some popular African women such as Mrs Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf are almost always on headwraps. Actress Lupita Nyongjo was breathtaking in her beautiful gele at the Queen of Katwe movie premiere.
In most households in Nigeria, women wear a headwrap every day. It is even allowed in workplaces. African headwraps work with matching cultural wear for a gorgeous look. How often do you style with headwraps?
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See also: Ankara Wedding Styles
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