The St Theresa’s Cathedral Church in Enugu state has declared holy war on head wraps, more fondly called ‘geles’, according to the Guardian UK.
According to the report, Church officials at the Catholic place of worship say they have banned the fashion accessory as many Nigerian women, who probably subscribe to the motto ‘bigger is better’, form a barricade with their geles.
The church also expressed fears that the mountainous head gear will prove a security risk. Some other places of worship are considering following St. Theresa’s lead and ridding Nigerian churchgoers of their fashionable mile high head wraps.
“In view of the present security challenges the church has urged women to stop coming to Sunday service with big headgears and bags to enable security men to know when a bomb will be smuggled into the church,” Reverend Father Uche Obodoechina said.
He explained that wearing the accessories made identification a bit harder.
The gele is considered a crowning glory for the Nigerian woman, the perfect punctuation without which her traditional outfit is incomplete.
One makeup artist is cited in the Guardian as saying that without the head wrap made of stiff jacquard fabric sitting erect on their heads, many women feel “naked”.
However with churches coming under attack in the north by the Boko Haram sect, many places of worship are implementing their own security measures – for St. Theresa’s it involves ridding the congregation of the fanciful headwrap.
“It is an unusual move but they must have their own information for doing so,” said Monsignor Gabriel Osu of the Catholic archdiocese of Lagos. “Nigerians now are very security conscious and churches especially are very vulnerable. So rather than take chances, they will do anything to minimise the risks to their congregations; they’re going that extra mile.”
Some churchgoers are supportive of the move; taxi driver Idowu James told the Vanguard that “it’s a good thing”, adding that the church is hardly the place for “exercises in fashion parade.”
Others yet see the move as an assault on the female churchgoer’s right to feel beautiful and look her best.
“I’ve never heard such a thing and I don’t think women in my own church will abide by that. Most of the week we women are working, so Sunday is the only chance to wear geles and dress up,” said Lagos resident Grace George. “We want to look our best when we go to church, and you cannot do that if you expose your head.”