Nothing tells the story of a united Nigeria more than our integration of various fashion elements in modern-day fashion. This series explores the caps we wear today, uncovering the heritage behind these pieces of crafted wearables.
#1 The Igbo Cap
The red Cap is a symbol of authority, of culture and of tradition of the Igbo people. It represents the institution of Chieftaincy, of power and of leadership. This is why it is used as a logo in any thing that portrays the Igbo man. It is synonymous with those recognized Chiefs who have met certain required standards in their communities. These sets of Chiefs do not tells lies because they have taken an oath “Isa ile” (washing of tongue ) to always say and abide by the truth hence they do not go back on their words. In some communities in Igbo land, an Ozo titled man whose father is still alive does not put on a red cap. An Ozo man has to become an “Ogbuefi” before wearing the revered cap. The number of Eagle feathers on the cap depicts the level attained by such a Chief.
The feathers are for the pride because they are eagles feathers.
#2 The Hausa Cap:
Traditionally these are called Zannah Bukar caps and originated from the Northern Tribes of Nigeria. They have been made popular today with the emergence of his excellency Gen. Buhari as the president of Nigeria. Since then they have become much more common and are availabe online and in the crowded “lagos travelling markets” complenent the usual traffic jams.
They are known for their more flamboyantcolours, patterns and top fittings, these caps also have a characteristic “bend” on one side, making one half rasied and the other half lower.
Sometimes they also come in velvet, usually a single colour. These designs typically incorporate styles from both the igbo and hausa traditional caps.
#3. The Yoruba Cap
The Yoruba caps (traditionally called Aso Oke) are a staple of the Tribe’s culture and can never be confused with any other because of its distinct look. The cap much unlike the Igbo and hausa caps is made to be worn and bent over to one side. It is normally made of “Softer” material and is akin to a Beanie (or winter hat).
According to Wikipedia: “An Aso Oke Hat (pronounced ah-SHOW-kay), a type of soft fez, is a traditional Yoruba hat that is made of hand woven Africanfabric, see Aso Oke fabric, cotton, velvet, or damask. In the Yoruba language, this hat is called a fila.”
Fashion Statement or Culture Vulture?
Many people do suggest that the mainstream popularity of these cultural fashion accessories is an insult to our culture, as most of these caps were reserved for very special people and/or occassions. This generally leads to cultural depreciation.
On the other hand, some would say that it does not matter and shows that truly Africans have become more receptive of their roots, regadless of if they understand what they have on or not.