What’s a hairstyle got to do with freedom?

I’ve known about J. D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere‘s (died February 2014, aged 83) endlessly fascinating hairstyles documentary work for years.

Now the BBC World Service brings us a short piece highlighting one of the most iconic of those hairstyles. The one featured here is called “Onile gogoro”, which, in the Yoruba language of South Western Nigeria, literally means “tall house”, or more loosely, “high-rising.”

Art curator Bisi Silva explains that it was popular at the time of Nigeria’s Independence from Britain (1960), for the way it captured “the aspirations of a new nation.” 

It’s a reminder (in a somewhat sad way) that Nigeria has always been a nation of tall dreams. 

Now I’m wondering, fifty years on, what hairstyle would most fully capture contemporary Nigerian aspirations?


VISIT: An ongoing exhibition of Ojeikere’s hairstyle oeuvre, in London


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