Why Headwraps Aren't just Headwraps

Why Headwraps Aren't just Headwraps

Any day, any darn time. Headwrap season is all year long! You may know it as iduku (isiZulu), dhuku (Shona), duku (Chichewa), gele (Yoruba) or tukwi (Botswana) depending on which country or culture you've been exposed to.Whether you have short, natural hair or you've got them sleek edges and relaxed hair, there's a style for everyone. Originating from Sub-Saharan Africa, these head coverings are now regarded as helmets of courage from all the hardships females endured in the past, and unfortunately, still endure today. The doek (South Africa) has evolved from a discomforting sign of enslavement to an unstoppable symbol of female elegance and everlasting beauty.



" The doek (S.A)has evolved from a discomforting sign of enslavement to an unstoppable symbol of female elegance and everlasting beauty.  @strutcyan " - Click Here to Tweet


During the horrific years of slavery in the United States of America, females of colour were forced to wear headwraps as a sign of enslavement. Besides protecting the scalp from the harsh, blazing sun, the headscarves were used to publicly signify the slaves inferiority in society.This 'badge of enslavement' further progressed into a brutal stereotype known as the 'Black Nammy.' From there, head wraps evolved into protective garments that were worn when females were doing chores around the house. Turban - a word commonly used in the western world to refer to headwraps- was derived from the Persian word "dulband."Turbans are now seen as accessories to outfits, making daring fashion statements whenever they're confidently strutted.


Can I be completely honest with you? Can I confess a dark, sinister crime I've committed - on numerous occasions? [Only those that have not committed the following crime can judge me] *sigh* I'm guilty of using a headwrap to hide an awful hair day. At first, that's why I wore headwraps. It further progressed to a hair accessory that added a touch of sass to my outfits. When I finally stopped and took a hard look at myself with a head wrap on, I felt a divine occurence take place. I felt empowered. That's when the 'duku' symbolised something much greater to me: It meant power. Black power. 


Growing up we've been exposed to prominent female figures wearing doeks- from our hardworking mothers to those who fought for our freedom such as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela


There are numerous meanings behind the head coverings that meet the naked eye. Depending on when, where and how, headscarves can represent wealth, maritial status, ethnicity, reverence and mourning. Head coverings, on both men and women, have become bold statements that defiantly demand to be heard. Unapologetically expressing yourself through fashion, just got a hell of a lot easier. 


Culture

Different cultures have different symbols related to the headwrap. In the Yoruba tradition (West Africa), the way the gele is tied indicates the relationship status of a woman: the end leaning to the left means she's single, while an end leaning to the right indicates she's married. In Southern African cultures such as the Xhosa culture, females are expected to wear 'iqhiya' as a sign of respect when in the presence of  their in-laws or prominent figures in the community. The same expectation is held for females in the Zulu culture. Whether you're Sotho, Tswana or Shona, when you're at a festive family gathering or at a wedding ceremony, it's guaranteed that there's someone's aunt who's SLAYING her amazing doek, loud and proud. 


Religion:

Whether you're addressing your ancestors or a Holy figure, there's bound to be someone wearing a head covering. Just as African cultures perceive wearing a head covering as a sign of humility and respect, so do those in religious institutions. Various religions require men to wear head coverings. These head coverings include the Sikh turban, hijab, Keffiyeh and Jewish Kippah, and all signifying religious obedience. 


Politics:

Just as head pieces are seen as symbolic in the cultural and religious spheres, they also play a role in the political playing field. Throughout history, head coverings have been used as rebellious and defiant political symbols. In the (date), Algerian women showed their resistance to French colonisers by wearing a veil known as the 'Haik.' Two phenomenal politically-active ladies, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf , the former president of Liberia and Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma , the former African Union chairperson have been seen wearing headwraps, serving us inspiration to follow in their footsteps. The headwrap, a proud and bold symbol of black identity and rebellion against the white minority, has endured colonisation, migration, globalisation and the disheartening separation of families due to slave trade. Yet, just like the  black women, still stands strong through it all. 


Headwraps have been here for centuries and yet African women find endless methods on wearing their head coverings. Majority of these styles cover the head and ears, and leave the forehead and neck revealed, thereby visually enhancing the facial features of the africa woman. When gazed upon by onlookers, they will see nothing short of royalty and regal. Just as a queen eloquently wears her diamond-encrusted gold crown, so does the strong african woman with her beautiful , heritage-rich headwrap. The 'dhuku', a simple piece of material to some, is still culturally held at the highest regard , not only linking African women to the traditions of their ancestors, but with their long lost cousins across the gushing cold sea's. 


" The 'dhuku', a piece of material to some, is still culturally held at the highest regard , not only linking african women to the traditions of their ancestors, but with their long lost cousins across the gushing cold sea's.@strutcyan " -Click Here To Tweet


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