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Hats of African Heritage

September is Heritage Month and it’s befitting to embrace our Africanism through fashion and style.

In one of the previous articles we learnt and discussed classic hats for gentlemen. It is fair to say we also deserve to learn and know a bit more of our own cultures and traditions. Just like the hats that I previously documented, not all of them are my cup of tea but it’s good to know a thing or two about them. Let’s get to know them…

Aso Oke (Nigeria)

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A traditional soft fez, also called Fila in the Yoruba language.  Its name Aso Oke stems from a hand knitted material of the same name. It can also be made of cotton, damask, or velvet. Its distinct look features a slouch to the left or right ear.

Fez (Morocco)

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Also referred to as a Tarboush, this exclusive cap has a tassel that hangs from the top portion of the hat.  It was first made in red and it was worn by military members.  It is named after the city that produced a dye made from crimson berries used to colour the hat. The Moroccan city Fez, was the capital of the Kingdom of Morocco until 1927.

Fulani (Mali)

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Fulani hats are basketry hats made of plant fibres. It’s a cone-shaped hat made from fibre and sometimes a touch of leather. It is worn by the Wodaabe, a subgroup of the Fulani tribe in West Africa. The hats are worn on top of a turban; it also has a chinstrap attached with a tassel at the base.

Igbo Ozo (Nigeria)

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The Igbo is another pride of Nigerian Yoruba clan in the Igbo land. It is almost similar to a Fez, but the Igbo doesn’t have a tussle, just a knob. The Igbo is made of soft, almost-velvety fabric and it’s foldable. The red colour symbolizes high authority, meaning only chiefs and leaders can wear it and the rest of the people can wear any other colour.

Kofia (Kenya)

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The kofia is a brimless cylindrical cap with a flat crown, worn by men in East Africa, especially Swahili-speaking cultures. Kofia is a Swahili word that means hat. The kofia is worn with a dashiki, a colourful African shirt which is called a kitenge shirt in some regions of East Africa.

Morokotlo (Lesotho)

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Like a Fulani, Mokorotlo or Modiyanyeo is also a cone-shaped woven hat with a topknot worn by the Basotho people. The hat is made from straw and is a national symbol of Lesotho.  The design is believed to have been inspired by the conical mountain Mount Qiloane. The hat comes in one size that fits all. It has an elastic inside that keeps the hat on the head and not fall, some also do have straps for horse riders.

Toghu Bamenda (Cameroon)

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These African traditional hats are part of the Cameroonian national outfit. For example, these hats are worn by the Cameroonian team at the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. These woven hat pieces have similar resemblance to the Nigerian Aso Oke.

 

In general, a hat’s functionalities are to cover the head and some to give shade on a sunny day. However, here in Africa hats are part of our traditional wear and they complete the look of a sartorial African man. Change is good but as great as it may be, more so into fashion and trends, our heritage should remain untamed.

Share your thoughts and possibly other hats that deserve to be mentioned.

Until next time…

Suitably Yours

Brian Lehang

SUITABLE MAN

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