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Fashions, Fros & Finds

Otswanii: Deeper Than Wrap

By Megan Davis
The Truth Contributor

Headwrapping is a tradition in African and other cultures that has varied significance for the bearer of the wrap. A Zulu woman may wear a head covering as a sign  of respect to her in-laws while the women of the Zion Christian Church wear head coverings inside and outside of the church.

Headwraps may also be regarded as a sign of humility, bereavement and modesty. Likewise, they may be worn in celebrations such as weddings. They too, can cover a “bad hair day” or protect the hair when working out or for many women who work in trades, it is a more fashionable way to cover the head in lieu of masculine du rags, stocking caps and bonnets.

What is less talked about is the stain of negativity surrounded covering the head during slavery. Not only was it difficult for women to maintain the health of their hair due to working long hours in extreme temperatures, it was also a sign of oppression in that women’s hair had to be of a certain texture and style in order to be acceptable for employment; something that has been at the center of litigation between employers and schools who often ban African hairstyles from their institutions. Whether it represents marital status, age, or a level of respect, the wrap is deeper than the fabric, color and its placement on the head.

Otswanii, Deeper Than Wrap was an event founded by model, artist and mentor Meecheb whose vision was to educate people about the cultural significance and artistic expression of headwrapping.

The event, which was held at The Peacock in downtown Toledo, began with a headwrapping class at which time guests could ask questions and get tips on wrapping while learning about the different types of wraps and what they represent. Local vendors were on hand, offering handmade goods such as With Sprinkle’s cosmetic glitter and body butters as well as body oils and incense.

 “We don’t have legacies or businesses for our children to inherit.” Megan Davis stated during the panel discussion. 

“Everything I learned, I had to learn on my own.” said Rochelle Morrishaw, dance artist and owner of Fete to Fit. “When my oldest decided this year, that they wanted to go work for somebody else, I looked at them like ‘you must not have common sense’ because the only option is for them to work for themselves or myself.” Morrishaw continued. “ I am teaching my children to build generational wealth.”

Fete to Fit owner and panelist, Rochelle Morrishaw, with founder Meecheb

Panelists Rochelle Morrishaw, Megan Yasu Davis, Elijah Isaacs, Meecheb and Antwan Oxner

Panel moderator and Otswanii model, Latisha Williams

This event gave two small black-owned businesses an opportunity to engage new customers and receive support where they otherwise may not have had the chance to experience.

The panel discussion, moderated by Latisha Williams, included a deep dialogue of pressing issues in the black community today. From questioning whether or not gender roles have changed with the feminist movement to addressing the problem of financial illiteracy in the black community, the questions posed sparked high-octane remarks between the panelists and the audience.

“The male structure is being torn down in our homes. We know society has a target on our heads, but if we don’t take responsibility for our roles in the family in the home and community, mentoring them and teaching our sons how to dodge the bullets both in the streets and in politrics, we are failing them.” Antwan Oxner was replying to the question ‘Where is the black male structure in terms of male emotions, the new black man, abuse, fatherless black men and creative black men.’

Elijah Isaacs, photographer and panelist concluded,  “It’s going to be a process; the instant gratification of it, it’s not going to happen overnight. We have systematically been brought down, so we must be patient in rebuilding the broken families who have succumbed to statistics.” A process it is. Several guests and panelists shared their experiences in dealing with single parenting, co-parenting and finding ways to break free from the system that has and continues to oppress black families.

Otswanii, a name that Meecheb birthed for this event and experience brought art, culture, history and a healthy dialogue in an enlightening manner much like the Oriyan definition of Ojaswini which means lustrous. With its power letter, “O’, Otswanii moved  to inspire optimism for black people to embrace their culture, rooted in African soil.

The event closed with a fashion show of select models who were styled by Meecheb, whose creativity expands multiple mediums. Embracing one another, men and women departed The Peacock feeling worthy, loved and connected an experience much deeper than the wrap.


Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02/28/19 23:02:10 -0500.



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