MOST women will agree nothing completes an African outfit like finding the right headpiece.
These headpieces are often intricately wrapped and tend to be the most prominent piece on any African outfit. While it does not take a rocket scientist to know how to tie an African head wrap, you still need to possess a certain level of skill to be able to accomplish some of the more elaborate designs, said Mary Ekwue, the owner of African Boutique located at New City Mall, Port of Spain.
When the Express visited the store on July 26 there were customers left and right trying to find the right African attire in time for the holiday.
Ekwue, also known as 'Queen Mary' by her loyal customers, is originally from Nigeria.
Proud to be African and have the opportunity to share some of her heritage, Ekwue showcased various head coverings women can wear for Emancipation Day.
Some of these include: Ebeona, a pre-wrapped headpiece, a Dame head wrap which can be worn for casual functions, Eko-bridge and Nkpotati for more for-
mal occasions like weddings, christenings or a meeting with the Prime Minister, she said. Covering one's hair has been a long standing tradition in many parts of south and western Africa. In Nigeria women also wear a 'gele', an African head wrap that can also be worn for formal occasions. The gele is made from a piece of cloth known as an asoke, she said.
"Tying an African headpiece is an art and one must be able to ensure a secured fit and style suitable for the outfit and occasion. Some women like elaborate headpieces but may find it challenging to wrap it if they have never tied an African headpiece before. Recently I brought down pre-wrapped African headpieces to give women who don't want to go through the hassle of tying, the opportunity to wear their African clothing anytime they want," Ekwue said.
Ekwue has tied over 100 head wraps for her customers and admits that, despite numerous times in showing customers how to tie their African head wrap, some people get it while others don't.
She said, "These days everyone is so busy that I believe having the option of a pre-wrapped African headpiece would be more convenient for those that don't have the time."
Sharing her thoughts on Emancipation Day, Ekwue said, "For me Emancipation means freedom, freedom to express yourself and your beliefs. As Trinidad and Tobago also gets ready to celebrate their 50th Independence Day anniversary, I feel happy to be here and be a part of it. The country has come a long way and we can only expect great things for the future."
For those who still want to be able to tie an African head wrap, Ekwue shared what to do step by step:
You will need approximately 2 yards of fabric. Keep in mind the weight, texture and size of fabric will affect the end result, she said.
1. Start by folding your fabric in half lengthwise.
2. Wrap fabric around your head and secure to the front by tying it
3. Pull both ends as tight as desired.
4. Gather up fabric and secure it to the nape of the neck by tying it in a bow.
5. Take the excess fabric and begin sculpting it. Just as a sculptor works with clay and shapes it into what he most desires, try to spread out the two ends to obtain a rose petal look and secure it with pins. You can achieve various styles by bending and folding the fabric.
"It may take you a few times to get what you want but don't be afraid to experiment with various styles and shapes," she said.