Nigeria is home to people of different tribes, diverse cultures, languages, ethnic groups, and traditions. The most common tribes include Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba. In the past, each tribe wore their different traditional attire and acquired unique styles to separate theirs from others. Presently, the Nigerian traditional attires are only worn for special occasions, ceremonies, or events as a result of the advent of western culture.
The Fila is also known as an Aso oke hat in the Yoruba language. The Yoruba tribe traditionally wears it. It is a soft hat that is made of various materials such as cotton, velvet, damask, or hand-woven aso oke fabric. Cotton is used to line the fabric of the Fila but if it is to be worn for a particular occasion, it can be unlined.
Despite being a signature attire for the Yoruba people, the Fila is worn amongst people of other tribes, African ethnicities, and descent. The Fila is worn by men and it settles comfortably on the head, tilted towards the ear of the person wearing it.
Depending on the taste of the wearer or occasion, it can be styled in numerous ways. According to the Yoruba culture, when the Fila is tilted towards the right, it means that the person wearing it is an unmarried man and when the Fila is tilted towards the left, it means that the person wearing it is a married man.
The Fila is usually worn with Yoruba attires especially when dressing formally in brocaded dashiki suits or Agbada. Agbada is made with either lace, aso oke, or cotton. During the premiere of Star Wars: The rise of Starwalker, John Boyega wore the Fila for the occasion.
In Yoruba, Fila simply means cap. It can be made from materials such as velvet, handwoven Aso Oke fabric, damask, or cotton, unlike Igbo caps which are made from wool. Although there is no traditional or cultural importance attached to wearing the Fila, it is worn to complement Yoruba attires such as Agbada, Ankara, etc. Today, many young people of different tribes can wear the Fila for various occasions.
Styles of Fila
The Fila can be styled in different ways. Some of them include:
I.) The Gobi Style:
This is the most popular style of fila. With an upturned design that is positioned towards the front, the Gobi style is commonly used by many. However, despite its design, it can be faced or positioned in any direction.
II.) The Abeti Aja Style:
In Yoruba, Abeti Aja means “like dog’s ears” hence the nature of the style of this particular Fila. It is commonly worn among both young and old men. It has pointed edges that can be styled to face any direction.
III.) The Kufi Style:
Although this style of Fila is rather simple, it is very common among Muslim Yorubas of royal heritage.
3.) The Awolowo cap:
As a signature cap of the renowned Awolowo, this cap was named after him as he was known to always wear this cap. It is similar to the red cap unique to the Igbo tribe but has its clear distinctions. It can be made from several materials and comes in varying colours.