Bama Cap: A West African Artistic Marvel

Bama Cap is known by many names – fila, hula or yaudi. Whatever name you use, it’s still a Bama cap, a distinctive hat made by the Bama people of Nigeria’s Borno State. The Bama caps are now popular across West Africa.

Men in Nigeria wearing Bama caps. Photo: Twitter | @AbduraufTawfeeq

Caps are highly valued by Kanuri people. According to local historians, the cap’s uses include protecting the wearer’s head from the sun and dust. Given Kanem Bornu’s early engagement with the Islamic world, the origins of the art of cap creation can be traced to Saudi Arabia, Karachi, and Islamabat.

Bama local government and Kangarmaka in Maiduguri, both of which were attacked by Boko Haram in 2014, are the main centers of Bama Cap manufacture. Caps have been made by the Bama people for hundreds of years. Bama, a key commerce hub on the way to the Republic of Cameroon and home to at least 270,000 people, was overrun by Boko Haram in September 2014, forcing residents to escape to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. They sought safety in IDP camps, community camps, and host communities, relying on government and non-governmental organizations for food, housing, and other necessities.


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They maintained their practice in Maiduguri. Because of the great demand for caps and the concentration of cap makers in Maiduguri, a cap market has sprung up in the city. With art as the universal denominator, this market brings people from all walks of life together in Maiduguri. Although it is customary practice in the performing arts to bring people together, it is less so in the visual arts. On Dambua Road, the cap market is across the street from the late Sen. Ahmad Zannah’s house. This is the largest market for caps in West Africa, having begun in Borno State.

Kangarmaka, on the other hand, is a densely populated Maiduguri neighborhood. It sprang to prominence in 1999, and it has since become a household name throughout the state and beyond. Kangarmaka was one of the regions that became no-go zones during the height of the Boko Haram crisis.

A Beautiful Needlework

Borno is famed for their mastery of the art of cap making: theirs are always gleaming, tightly knit, and glossy. The cap-making business attracts both young and old people.

According to historians, every family is either a little cap-making center, a cap laundry, or at the very least has some members who are interested in the art. There is no other place in the state, or indeed the country, with such a high concentration of cap producers.

Hundreds of people are employed in the market: some design, some weave, some dye, some wash, some sell, and some repair-it is undeniably a local factory. They employ needle and thread to express their artistic creativity on bakta, a type of fabric.

The hats are now integrated into Nigerian pop culture, worn by young and old, politicians and celebrities alike.

Handcrafted Miracle

A Bama cap begins with a hand-drawn design template using a ruler and colored markers.

Templates can be purchased for less than ten dollars. The sewing of the cap’s foundation begins once a template is created. The top white centerpiece is applied last.

A cap can take two to five weeks to sew, depending on the amount of layers in the pattern. Everything is accomplished by hand. The hats cost roughly $20 in Maiduguri. They cost at least $50 and up to $180 in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Mobile Caps Mall: Best Bama Caps Plug

In an interview with Muslim Voice NG, Shehu Abdus-Salam Aladodo, the proprietor of Ilorin based Mobile Caps Mall (MCM), which supplies caps to all Nigerian 36 states as well as countries throughout the world, he noted that, “caps are different types. Some are named after the place where they are being stitched, and others are named after notable individuals. For example, according to history, Bama is the name of a place in Maiduguri. People in the Bama locality are known chiefly for stitching caps. As such, caps from that locality are called Bama Caps. There are caps called Maiduguri caps – referring to caps made in Maiduguri, and Dan Kano – referring to caps made in Kano, and other places in northern Nigeria. Zanna Bukar, Atiku, and Buharriyah are caps named after notable individuals. Other type of caps include: Bangwal, Ahaye, Tanganran, Damanga, Miran, among others.

People’s perception of the caps in our locality is that of admiration and acceptance, according to Sheu. It is one of the fashion accessories they so much love. Some individuals will never leave their house without a befitting cap to compliment their native attires. It adds value to men, and it’s classy and cultural.

“The durability of caps varies. Some fade a number of laundries, while others last for as long as you wish to wear them. Caps of good quality can last for as long as 8-12 years.

Also, the durability is dependent on the thread used in stitching the caps. That’s where the difference comes in. Some threads are of inferior quality, while others are superior. People who love caps know this, and whenever you hand them a cap, the first thing they check is the thread.”

As a cap dealer, he continued, “the goal is not just to put on any cap, but to put on a cap that draws attention with its pattern, colour, and quality.” At Mobile Caps Mall, we make it a duty that our customers get quality caps for their hard-earned money.




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