I Doff My Hat

Kemka WeliKrus Blog, Tales & Fiction17 Comments

As I picked up my hat to finish my dressing for work this morning it just struck me that all of a sudden Hats have gone out of fashion in Abuja.

Fridays are for local attires and we all look forward to it – who never tire for Tie, Shirt, and Suit, Monday to Friday? It is a National policy to wear local fabrics on Fridays as an economic policy to support the local textile industry; even Thursdays have been added to the ‘Dress Down’ days by many Ladies in the Enterprise who wear ‘Ankara’ Suits.

So in addition to the ‘Suit fatigue’, many people look forward to Fridays as a day to showcase their traditional attires. You can easily know the Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo people who are the majority in the Enterprise are. But once in a while, you will see the Efik, the Bini, the Tiv, and the other Minorities who also wish to represent their culture.

And so on this day, when I picked up the Hat, my heart was back home in the Niger Delta. Then, the thought flashed in my mind that the Hat that was ubiquitous during the Jonathan days from 2007 to 2015 was hard to find. In those days, especially the period when he was President, Hats were worn by everyone. There is no man I know who didn’t acquire a Hat at that time, many women did too. Then, also our local Artire ‘Woko’ rechristened ‘Senator’ became the official style as well. Over time, the Woko merged with Kaftan and became a little longer. Everyone was on a roll and that has survived but the hat is hard to find.

As I thought deeper about it, one thing is clear, the factors that affect even the smallest of our decisions such as dressing, feeding, and living generally are far-flung. Imagine what influences the big ones. The things you believe as true, the basis of your life and hope for the future, have you examined them and where they come from? What are your major influences? President Jonathan didn’t have any direct influence on many people who joined the bandwagon of Hat wearing and they will never admit he influenced them. I am sure that when you probe your life, you will find influences from untoward places. Do you notice the merger of Kaftan and Woko? What are the values and practices that you are merging with yours? Will they make you a better person as the ‘Senator’ has become or are they circumstantial and would fade fast when the prevailing circumstance change?

Make I wear my hat jeje dey go work o. Will we see a resurgence of Hat wearing in Abuja again? Lol, time will tell. This dressing na me choose am. Other aspects of my life? I will keep probing to ensure that they are based on truth and that the influences I allow in my life are wholesome and eternal. What about you? What has happened to your Hat? *Wink.

17 Comments on “I Doff My Hat”

  1. Let me stretch your thought from this morning further.

    Do you know our so called native attair were all influenced by western fashion? As your story illustrates, people have have always tried to look like their leaders. It would have been a small indicator of how close one was to the powers that be. Did your forefathers still wrap round in loincloth or were they dressed more like their colonial masters.

    If you look clearly, traces of how our forefathers mimicked the colonials is still evident in what we wear. Some typical ones are not hard to see – take the long jesters bonnet from England that was given to the Efik and Ibibio as head gear. Every European royal court would recognize its Red, Black and White bands of the Jester. It’s the same (Shorter) one given to the Igbos. The western dresses are clearly European night dress still common until the early 19th century. None is more dignified like those of the Rivers / Bayelsa people. I guess this was because they met the colonials under a different circumstance. They met as trade partners and remained so for centuries before the incursion of trade missions into the hinterland. So they chose to dress like the white man, from head to toe. They chose the Top hat, bowler hat, even mimicked the tail coat of early european fashion, with the ruffles, embroidery, cuffs and Cane to match. Even topping it off with the typical pocket watch which today boast the most expensive part of the Rivers / Bayelsa attire. The was clear, the more you looked like the colonials, the more influential and prestigious one would have been.

    So little wonder why the native attire of the President found its way to the wardrobe of west and northern Nigeria. This phenomena is also present in other realms. Take corporate Nigeria for example – ppl try to dress like their bosses. CBN staff started wearing Bow Ties like Sanusi Lamido Sanusi when he was Governor. Today, many staff wear green neck ties – a color hardly seen before Emefiele came to lead tribe central bank. Have you also notice how many men still carry Jerry curls years after it went out of fashion? Yes! they are mostly members of a certain church who chose to look like their Pastor. There is also another sect who clip their neck ties with “Lapel pins” simply because their Pastor does so.

    So its a natural phenomenon. People will choose to look like those who exercise authority over them. There are however some nonconformists like me. I still dey wear my Hat jeje. As a Rivers man, I was wearing it long before Jonathan became President.

    1. This is beautiful; some lesson in the evolution of our so-called native attires – not so native after all. lol. Thanks for the insight. I am sure readers will be enlightened.

  2. I noticed the merger of Kaftans with what you called ‘woko’ I didn’t know the name before, and I liked it, it’s what I’m wearing right now. For the Hat, I had my Hat long before GEJ became president, I couldn’t wear it when he became president just like you alluded, every one joined the band wagon, now that it’s forgotten just like you rightly posited, you actually just reminded me to dust up mine, just picked it up last night noticing it needed some buffing, I kept it back. What a coincidence you mentioned.

  3. Quite a good story. As noted, many don’t really know what drives them. They more or less follow the crowd- the bandwagon.

    The earlier we know the real substance of our lives, the better our decisions. And this will go beyond hat wearing.

  4. This also includes the wearing of beard. Many young men are wearing beard for no reasons they can point to.
    The bandwagon effect. ” Others are wearing, why not I”. Rudderless life!

  5. Such an interesting mind piece that draws a larger analogy. Well informed. Fades are often driven by many influences.

    I am really curious for the next marriage of any local styles while recalling that naija once had a crazy drive to rock Ghanaian kente wax even more than the not too distinct Nigerian waxes.

    The kilikili star wax had a huge come back while in the southeast Nigeria Governor Soludo is chairing a re-emergence for Akwaete.

    Its such a great discussion you started here.

  6. I like your story line.
    Growing up as a boy, often see my dad wearing different hats for different functions….he was a member of many social clubs so weekends calls for one meeting or the other.

    I love wearing hats today with my ‘woko’ or ‘etibo’ .
    Recall the then gov of Rivers state Dr Peter Odili, his hats look quite unique with his ‘woko’.

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