The Beautiful Load, a poem to honor the African head tie

Ofeibea Quist-Arcton ties a beautiful yellow scarf on the beach in Dakar, Senegal.

I grew up watching my mother tie huge pieces of fabric on her head. We’d stand facing the mirror as she dressed up for parties and church. I wrote this poem in January 2018 to honor the beauty of the African woman’s head tie. I want to capture the essence of this cloth- which is so much more than a fashion accessory. I want to celebrate the strength of African women. Let this poem be an ode to the duku, gele, ichafu, turban, doek, whatever you call it…let’s embrace it!


I had a lot of fun working on this project.

Here are some shots of the filming.


Veronica Ogunleye in her bedroom tying a gele from aso oke fabric


Ciku Kimeria, a Kenyan woman, admires her head wrap and locks


Me wrapping an ichafu from ankara fabric


Vanessa Agu ties a wrap that is of a traditional fabric of ethnic groups in present-day Benue State, Nigeria


Jessica Manuela, from Togo, finishes tying a wax print on her head in “a trendy headlight” style



by Chika Oduah




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