South African Women Re-Brand Headscarves In Modern Fashion


The past week saw a significant trending of the #RespekTheDoek hashtag in South Africa. The doek is the Afrikaan name for headscarves.

Headscarves are typical African cultural items. They are fashion pieces used by African women from time immemorial. In several parts of the world the trend can also be seen.

They are broadly used for cultural and religious affairs. In the 21st century headscarves have gained a lot more recognition away from the initial stereotypes.

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In the past, the use of headscarves could just imply that a lady just graduated from spinsterhood. It was a fashion piece restricted to the newly married and mothers. But that is no longer the case now.

From kiddie fashionistas to the teens to the grown ups, everyone is free to rock a headscarf whether for a stroll in the streets, a party or more serious occasions like weddings and funerals.

Headscarves come in varieties. The nature of the function or mood determines the type one wears. Since it is first and foremost a cultural piece, the different names, nature, form and even styles of headscarves depend on the region where it is most popular.


A BBC article has shown eNCA media personalities showing solidarity for a colleague, Nontobeko Sibisi, who proposes the use of headscarves (doek) in the corporate world.

The #RespekTheDoek and #DoekTheNewsroom hashtags cum campaign paid off as the channel is currently to review its restrictions on the use of the doek while on air.

Some have actually accused the channel of being rigid and intolerant to the African culture. It also appeared that there was also some sort of restrictions on the use of natural hair in workplaces.

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Without any form of doubt, South Africans are one of the most patriotic set of Africans when it comes to preservation of culture. If they don’t rock the headscarves, I wonder who will. Today the use of headscarves now comes in more catchy and interesting twists. Plus, it could save awkward moments of a bad hair day.

“Only a matriarch will know that a covered head means queen. We as black girls are out here celebrating our existence like never before.”– Kamogelo Seekoei, Johannesburg Writer.