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Fila, Hula or Yaudi: Bama Caps from Nigeria’s Borno State are likely to be seen across West Africa

Depending on the number of layers in the design, this hand-made cap can take anywhere from two to five weeks to sew

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Bama Caps. Image Source: Wikipedia.org

NIGERIA, September 1, 2016: The Bama Cap from Nigeria’s Borno State is a distinctive hat made by the Bama people in the north-eastern part of the country. Locally, the Bama cap is known as- filahula or yaudi.

Prized across West Africa for their intricate embroidery, the hats are now being woven into Nigerian pop culture, worn by young and old, from politicians to music celebrities.

Nigerian rapper Naeto C made a stunning fashion statement when he wore a Bama cap with urban streetwear in the music video for his 2011 hit single 10 over 10.

President Muhammadu Buhari is rarely seen without his Bama cap. Women are also rocking the style, led by creative female music celebrities.The Bama people have been making their caps for hundreds of years, but not too many people know the full story.

Nigeria's Borno state highlighted in red. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Nigeria’s Borno state highlighted in red. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Bama people have been making their caps for hundreds of years, but not too many people know the full story.

Survivors of terror 

“The Bama cap began in Yaudi, that’s the town in the Bama area of Borno state. It was worn by the leaders of the community,” explains Ahmed Isa Ghondi.

Ghondi is a promoter of the Bama cap and has written up to 40 unpublished books on the tradition. But there is also a dark side to the story.

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Bama was nearly wiped out by Boko Haram, the violent Islamic extremist group that has left a trail of bloodshed through northeastern Nigeria for years. Those who survived the carnage flocked to Maiduguri. The state capital, Borno’s largest city and commercial hub, also has been wracked by Boko Haram’s attacks, but it is still safer than Bama.

“They’ll take your wife,” Bama native Dunoma Gambo says of Boko Haram. “They’ll take your child and they’ll also force you into joining them.”

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Gambo escaped such a fate by fleeing to Maiduguri, where he now is part of a collective of internally displaced Bama people. They kept up their cultural tradition of sewing Bama caps after arriving in the state capital, and the collective has flourished.

Traditional techniques and designs

“I grew up and saw people sewing and that’s how I learned,” Gambo says. “You will be practicing and you will make many mistakes, but with time, you will do it right. I’ve now been an expert in it for 12 years.”

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Each cap starts with a design template that is sketched by hand, using a ruler and colored markers.

Templates can be bought for less than $10. Once there’s a template, the sewing of the cap’s base begins. The white centerpiece on the top goes on last.

Depending on the number of layers in the design, a cap can take anywhere from two to five weeks to sew. Everything is done by hand.

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In Maiduguri, the caps sell for about $20. In Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, they sell for at least $50, and on up to $180.

Caps symbolize national unity

“The caps, they are very strong. That’s why people from different parts of the country buy them,” says Sani Mohammed, who traveled from Kaduna state to buy caps for his upcoming wedding.

“The cap brings unity among Nigerians,” Sani Mohammed says. Even though he is not from Bama, he wants to wear a Bama cap on his wedding day.
“Everyone comes here, all the tribes – from Yoruba to Igbo to non-Nigerians,” says 25-year-old Mohammed Fantami. At his fashion shop in Abuja, he says, the Bama caps sell out quickly, in part because they are a symbol of prestige.

“Wearing a cap brings respect,” Fantami says. “Between two people, if one is wearing a cap and the other is not, there is a difference. Even if you see a small kid with a cap, you will respect him.”

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Once the caps arrive from Maiduguri, they are hand-washed and starched. After drying in the sun for at least 12 hours, the caps are pressed with a charcoal iron.

Bama cap promoter Ahmed Isa Ghondi wants to expand the cap-making industry. He drives around, telling people about what makes the caps so special.

“Because of the hand stitching, the fact that it was made by hand,” he says. “You know, the carpets in Uzbekistan are famous because they are hand-stitched. So these caps must also be famous.”

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Men from Bama like Dunoma Gambo will continue to sew their traditional caps in Maiduguri. They say Boko Haram fighters may have destroyed their homes in Bama, but they have not destroyed the Bama cap. (VOA)

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Jewellery: An Intrinsic Part of Indian Culture

Jewellery buying is not just a luxury in India

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Jewellery
Jewellery has been an intrinsic part of Indian culture and no other country in the world shares a more rich history than us. Pixabay

BY ADITI ROY

Jewellery has been an intrinsic part of Indian culture and no other country in the world shares a more rich history than us. Gujarat-based heritage house Narayana Jewellers has been a prominent player in the domestic market who have evolved over time and has been a part of the spectacular history. IANSlife caught up with Ketan and Jatin Chokshi, owners of the label to talk more.

Excerpts:

Tell us something about the history and lineage of Narayana Jewellers?

Ketan and Jatin: 2020 is very special for us as a brand as it marks our 80th anniversary in jewellery retail business. Though we have been into fine jewellery business for more than 138 years now, the company was founded in the name of M/S Ambalal Chaturbhai Chokshi in 1940 by Mr. Ambalal Chaturbhai Chokshi in the city of Vadodara. My father Mr. Narendra Ambalal Chokshi joined the business in 1969 and in 1984. restructured the company and re-launched it as “Narayan Jewellers” and introduced Jadau and Diamond jewellery along with gold.

Jewellery
While earlier gold was the only jewellery option preferred during weddings, jadau and diamond jewellery have found its place in the market now. Pixabay

How your history/famous lineage helping you evolve in the current market scenario?

Ketan and Jatin: The brand’s lineage of 80 years and the trust it has built amongst its peers and clientele have strengthened our foothold in the market. We have been catering to the generations in families with our heirloom designs being passed over from one generation to the other. A systematic and engineered approach to design with a USP of not creating a second piece of same design has helped us be a market leader in the wedding jewellery segment in Gujarat while building new clientele.

The brand has received more than 24 awards and styled the best of Bollywood, Hollywood celebrities over last few years, expanded its retail store, been a part of national and international fashion weeks including NYFW for last 5 season, Lakme Fashion Week, FDCI Couture Week. Narayan Jewellers has kept evolving and innovating to be relevant to today’s generations.

How have you seen the Indian jewellery market evolve over time in terms of customer preferences, price-sensitivity, designs-choices

Ketan and Jatin: While there has been a lot of evolution in the domestic jewellery market over the years, what remains constant is that jewellery buying is just not a luxury in India. It is a necessity and is considered auspicious. While earlier gold was the only jewellery option preferred during weddings, jadau and diamond jewellery have found its place in the market now.

Design choices in wedding and non-wedding segments have evolved with online exposure to fashion and what is happening around the world.

Who are your main target audience? Are you planning to expand your audience base?

Ketan and Jatin: While wedding and luxury clients are the main target audience, we are looking at everyone who understands and wants to buy jewellery which is high on aesthetics, design with the right mix of raw material and rightly priced is our target audience.

Since, traditional Indian customers buy jewellery on seasonal basis (wedding, occasions, etc), what are the different ways you can diversify your products?

Ketan and Jatin: We have been seeing jewellery buying all across the years, though the sales are higher during wedding and festive season. We are working on capsule collections for daily wear and to celebrate special days like Valentine’s Day, Rakhi, Mother’s Day, etc.

Jewellery
Jewellery buying is just not a luxury in India. It is a necessity and is considered auspicious. Pixabay

Tell us something about your association with Sotheby’s and Christies.

Ketan and Jatin: We had worked with Sotheby’s for “Emeralds for Elephants” Campaign to save Elephants and their habitats and with Christie’s for Gemfields project Blossoming for Project Nanhi Kali to help raise funds for the education of less privileged girl child. Our designs were very well appreciated and we helped raise 25% of the total auction funds at Sotheby’s and 40% of the total funds raised at Christie’s.

What are your future expansion plans?

Ketan and Jatin: Marking our 80th year in the retail business, we are planning to expand both domestic and international markets.

Also Read- Bollywood Actress Katrina Kaif Shares a Few At-Home Workout Tips

Since you started a manufacturing facility for cutting and polishing of diamonds in Surat before joining the family business, are you planning to come up with a school or training institute for budding jewellery designers?

Ketan and Jatin: No. Not as of now. (IANS)