African Hats through the ages
Coiffure and fashion wear is an expression of individually and pride for African women. For many centuries Africans struggled to retain their unique traditions, languages and cultures. This was achieved despite wave after wave of outside influence and domination by Arabs and Europeans. One of the features that has remained virtually intact from generation to generation, was the African head wear. This crowning glory symbolizes strength as well as pride in one's self and one's city, village or country of birth. Attractive hats and tie-wraps are a portrayal of femininity and etiquette. Likewise, personal grooming and traditional hair styles of West African women mirrors their social status. African hats and head wraps are identified by their colorful fabrics and distinctive designs. We enjoy every opportunity to explore the cultural significance of African fashion.

Historically Speaking
Colorful African textiles became a sign of wealth during the period of the trains Saharan Trade when traders used strip cloth as a form of currency. As a result, African textiles and hats became known world wide, and their quality and color became an expression of wealth and knowledge in society and an indication of social hierarchy. The famous Kente cloth of the Ashanti in Ghana tells how the use of cloths and hats differentiates people by status, as hats symbolize leadership. Two of our most treasured hats where purchased direct from the Kente weaver's shop in Ghana.

What's Your Hat-itude?

I am fascinated, and often captivated by the designs, textiles and in particular, the head wear, hats, coiffure, turbans and wraps of indigenous peoples around the world. In many African societies, the choice of colors and fabrics is outstanding and has special significance to the wearer. Hats often tell stories of everyday life, with its struggles, spiced by uplifting periods of joie de vivre. While I have worked in various African countries and journeyed widely in my earlier career as a travel agent, my ten year involvement with Africa Travel Magazine has brought the importance of African fashion into sharp focus. Speaking of focus, our library of African fashion photos is unbelievable. It's grown so much, we're considering an issue dedicated solely to African fashions. How did this love affair start? Our very first Africa Travel Association Fashion Show was hosted by Chief Margaret Fabiyi, who has supplied many of my favorite wardrobe items. Her company is based in Lagos, Nigeria.

Instant Decision. Fashion will Rule!
At Mrs. Fabiyi's fashion affair in Arusha, Tanzania, we decided on the spot that fashion would play a leading role in our magazine. The exciting thing about this particular show, was the fact that our own delegates from the USA and Africa participated as models. That simple but effective format set the pattern for future ATA fashion shows at congresses and symposia in Ethiopia, South Africa, Cameroon, Guinea, Morocco, Zambia and Zanzibar. It will certainly play a starring role in our exciting ATA 30th World Jubilee, which starts in January 2005 and winds up in Angola next winter. The Jubilee highlight will be ATA's 30th Congress in Nairobi, Kenya. We were checking out the Kenyan fashions this spring when we toured the country. So since our first ATA fashion show, I challenged myself to wear African clothing and hats often, around home, at work and on regular shopping trips, as modern fashions for a modern day lifestyle.

While we live in Canada's Pacific coast, as far away from Africa as you can get, we are always having conversations about this wonderful continent, its people and places, simply because our hats are recognized by Africans who are working here or are attending university. As a confirmed adventurer , I enjoy a visible link to the Africans who work so hard to create these fabrics, hats and other wardrobe items. By supporting African designers and artisans, our publisher, Jerry Bird and I are contributing on behalf of the magazine, to the economy and cultural heritage of African societies . We are also demonstrating to all we meet in person, on our web sites and in person, that there is an expanding market opportunity for African clothing and fashions. Each hat or article Jerry and I wear promotes the country of origin. The most noticeable items that occupy our closet to the bursting point, are found in the collection of hats from different African countries. We wear each one with pride; what you might call a positive hat-itude!


More to Come