What’s a Lagos party without those sky-scraping geles?

Back in the days of serious Lagos parties, before it was diluted with gowns and near nakedness, tying gorgeous geles was an integral part of the Lagos party for the woman of style.

The gele was so integral it prompted King Sunny Ade to wax a song of praise:  ‘Ewo gele gehn gehn lo’ ri a ji gbo t’ko’. Meaning (See how lovely the gele of the woman who rises early to attend to the needs of her husband.)

Now, let’s not go into the chauvinistic meaning of that expression, suffice to say, the gele must always sit elegantly on the head of the wearer, high above the forehead with the tip of the wearers’ ears covered in the wrap.


Gele is mandatory for any party where traditional wear is the dress code; I’m talking about society weddings/engagement parties; Chieftaincy title parties, house warming ceremonies, generally parties where aso-ebi is king. Shebi you get?

There’s no beauty to gele if it isn’t skilfully tied, because as the Yorubas often say – Gele o dun bi ka mo we. The tying of the gele is a skill that many have turned into an art form particularly for those with an eye for style.  Ladies you know, not many of us are so gifted.

I’ve heard stories of angry husbands/boyfriends walking out or driving off in anger after waiting endlessly for their partners to tie the darned gele. Growing up, I recall that whenever my parents had an outing, my father would give my mum some 20 minutes head start, just so she could get her gele issues well out of the way before he began to dress up but, still, he would beat her to it and would have to wait impatiently downstairs annoying the neighbourhood by honking his horn and calling for mum to come out.

For me, my geles always come out wrong. Half the time, what I manage to achieve is what will pass for an oshuka -(the sorry looking wad of cloth that people place on their head when carrying water), and then, I would have a problem sitting in the car with my neck slightly bent, just so the silly gele doesn’t topple off.

Last week, I had about the same situation. I was attending a wedding where my gele had to make a statement; so I employed the services of a make-up and gele artist. The makeup would have scored a 100% with me except that I was not able to recognize myself in the mirror. I do not like being accosted by a stranger when I look in the mirror.

The gele on the other hand was so artfully tied, I could kiss the girl but then l I began to have a headache. She had tied it too tight. By the time the headache kicked in, I was already close to the venue and removing the gele was just out of question. So, I bore the pain. Cringing every time I had to smile at other guests, it didn’t help that I had been tugging and pulling at it to ease the flow of blood to my brain. My head was throbbing badly.

My clueless friend tried to help me by pulling out my ears from under the tight fit. I almost bit his fingers off as I quickly tucked in my now very red ears under the gele, and patting it in place. He didn’t realize he was ruining my style! If I wasn’t in so much pain, I would have laughed at the shock on his face when I slapped his hands off. I told him, ‘if my ears are out of the gele, the fit would be lost.’

‘But you have a headache,’  he said.

Bobo no sabi!!!

There must have been other women too, bearing their pain like me, but we all looked calm, even happy as we sized up one another, took mental notes of the style the other was wearing, sniggered at a few who couldn’t hold their pain, checked our makeup and assured ourselves the men sitting next to us had eyes only for us.

I resolved to find a way to loosen the grip of the gele in the Ladies and once inside I saw another specimen of female vanity; two of the lovely ushers sat in a corner painfully rubbing their toes. They’d been standing in shoes that looked like stilts; I had to ask them how they thought they would survive the night in those. Of course, they laughed it off and assured me they would be back at their duty posts in a jiffy.

A sec later, in came another lady, rinsing her eyes with water. Peering at her,  I discovered her makeup artiste had applied too much glue to hold her false lashes in place and ended up causing massive irritation to her eyes and leaving it all red.

“Aww, my make-up is ruined,” was all she could say.

Thing is, why do we, women put ourselves through all of these?

I have a friend who almost passed out at a party because she had stuffed her bulk into a wired corset. You know the type that thrusts the breasts into your face and slims your waist to zero? Yeah, that type, made by the devil itself. We rushed her into the Ladies and got rid of the ‘murderer’.

Fashion is pain and many of us women are vain.

And let’s not talk about how when we have just freshly braided our hair of fixed our weaves; the husband/partner must lay off at least for that night or be a victim of transferred aggression that comes from a hurting scalp.

Kudos to the men who put up with us and the women who never say die!

Where is my gele joo, its FRIDAY!!!

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About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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  1. Tpl. Mrs. Kehinde George

    This piece is humorous, entertaining and from down Memory Lane for us older folks! Well done Sabi News, well done Peju, my husband, am very proud of you!


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