Head tie

Gambian women in their head ties
Ivoirian woman in a head-tie
An elaborate head tie worn by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia

A head tie is a common women's cloth head scarf in many parts of Southern and Western Africa.

In South Africa and Namibia, the Afrikaans word "doek" (meaning "cloth") is used for the traditional head covering used among most rural elderly African women. In other parts of the continent, terms like "duku" (Malawi, Ghana), "dhuku" (Zimbabwe), "tukwi" (Botswana), and 'gele' (Nigeria) are used. The head scarf is used as an ornamental head covering or fashion accessory, or for functionality in different settings. Its uses or meaning can vary depending on the country and/or religion of those who wear it.

West Africa

In Ghana, opportunity to wear a "duku" usually falls on a religious day of Friday, Saturday or Sunday, depending on if they are Muslim, Seventh-Day Adventists or Sunday church-going Christians.

In Nigeria they are known as Gele, and can be rather large and elaborate. Although gele can be worn for day-to-day activities, the elaborate ceremonial ones (usually made of a material that is firmer than regular cloth) are worn to weddings, special events, and church activities. A resurgence in African pride, especially among the youth, has led to its usage in many Western nations outside of Africa. [1] When worn, especially for more elaborate events, the gele typically covers a woman's entire hair as well as her ears. The only part exposed is her face and earrings on the lower part of her earlobes. The gele is accompanied by traditional African attire that may or may not have the same pattern as the headtie itself.

Southern Africa

Malawian head-ties are usually small and conservative compared to the Nigerian style. In addition, they are worn during sleep to protect the hair.

In South African church services women may wear white "dukus" to cover their heads. At the International Pentecostal churches in South Africa, married women wear white 'dukus'.[2]

The Shangaan women in Zimbabwe and South Africa wear 'dukus' as accessories.[3] At other social gatherings in Zimbabwe women may wear a Dhuku.[3]

See also


  1. ^ "How to tie a Nigerian 'gele' using Aso-oke". Instructables.com. 2009-10-12. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  2. ^ "Evan Church". Evan Church. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 
  3. ^ a b "Culture of Zimbabwe". East-buc.k12.ia.us. 2000-04-19. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 

External links