Political headdress and personal branding
I met her headgear before I met her. She was undoubtedly one of the leading female politicians in Nigeria, touching the men whose playground it is and giving them a hard time. Beyond her beauty, she was a genius strategist and knew Lagos politics like the back of her hand. His signature was his 100 watt smile, his low cut haircut, but most famously, his headgear wrapped around his head at an angle.
Enter Kemi Nelson, an incredible politician and political strategist. It was in his DNA. That’s all she wanted to do, all she wanted to be. Although trained as a nurse, Kemi was known worldwide as the Lagos-born politician. She has always been an asset to the group that she decided to pitch her tent. But it was his headgear that made our paths cross. As tributes continue to pour in for the late Lagos politician on her passing, I clearly remember how we met.
She had come to honor an event where she had been invited to speak. I approached her and told her that I thought her headgear was fashion forward. She offered me her megawatt smile and something else. I told her she tied her gele like only Kemi can. She burst out laughing, shared knowledge.
Kemi’s headgear has become her trademark asset and she’s had it every step of the way. It wasn’t Kemi Nelson if that scarf wasn’t pushed forward at an angle giving us all so much joy
Her headgear had become her trademark. Like mine. The last time I went out without my blindfold, a young woman said she didn’t recognize me. I understand the brand and maybe coif outside of politics as best I can. I live the life from headgear, from broadcasting to public speaking. Kemi’s headgear has become her trademark asset and she’s had it every step of the way. It wasn’t Kemi Nelson if that scarf wasn’t pushed forward at an angle giving us so much joy. In political circles, his headgear had been christened Kemi Nelson and in Nigerian fashion circles, people started imitating this powerful statement that rested on his head.
Her passing left a hole in the race for the 2023 election. Kemi was a colorful politician and energized every room she walked into. She will be greatly missed. Her personality, her walk, her character, her dance moves and her magnificent redefinition of ‘gele’, one of Nigeria’s greatest exports to the fashion world… Kemi style.
As a gele and turban person myself, I experimented with different angles and wraps to finally settle into my personal style. Two ways. But Kemi has been consistent in her stylish hairstyle. As I was leaving her presence that day, I met her at a reception, she told me how much she thought my personal brand of headgear looked admirable on TV and everywhere I went. was going, and started sending me a really beautiful blue and red two-piece. It’s adorned my head for news from the nine o’clock network to its delight and for weddings and social events for the past 10 years or so.
Kemi Nelson left me a piece of his admirable brand but left us all with this image of his unforgettable personal headwear brand.
My thoughts are with her husband, Mr. Adeyemi Nelson, friend, brother and colleague who was with us in the world of information management before he retired as Director of the Home Office. May the soul of Kemi Nelson rest in peace… Amen.
And talk about politics and personal hairstyle brands. Who can easily forget the large cap of President Shehu Shagari, easily recognizable from miles away, or the cap of Solomon Lars? These were caps that came to define these high profile people wherever they went. Many of these marks in elevated spaces led to cat fashion being copied when President Jonathan’s south-south brim hat became his signature. During his presidency, everyone who could within politics and across the country began to spot the Jonathan hat. He became not just a symbol but a definite authority. If the President wore it every day, owning two as an ordinary citizen granted a chip on your shoulder. You have unwittingly become part of the power structure. It was both personal and psychological.
If you look closely at today’s Executive Council meetings, you would see a Council member whose headgear is her signature… the ubiquitous Minister for Women’s Affairs, Dame Pauline Talle. Her headgear is her trademark, tied in exactly the same way with slight variations every day.…
Read also: What you need to know about Kemi Nelson, the late leader of APC
She has built a tremendous brand with her helmet. Something she has grown over the years. This is something a brand expert will charge a lot of money for. Defining the mark of a politician.
In the midst of terrorist attacks, kidnappings and a nation shaken to its foundations by the sheer audacity of people kidnapping innocent citizens and attacking the heart of the nation’s security, let’s talk about those things we stand for celebrated around the world.
Let’s talk about the auto gele, the turbans and the like for which other nations admire us, magnificent. Let’s talk about our food and the people of character who have crossed our political landscape with flying colors like Kemi Nelson. Let’s talk about community, giving food to strangers and caring for the less privileged. Let’s talk about Amusan who won the gold medal for Nigeria in a land far away. Let’s talk about the smile of a fellow citizen and the friendliness of strangers. Let’s talk about the dimpled smile of a baby, the rays of the sun in the morning, the rain… the droplets on your lips and your face. Let’s talk about stories told by old people of old about things that give us joy.
It’s time to claim our nation through the simple things in life like Kemi’s gift, like admiring another woman, like saying hello, texting an old friend. Let’s not give terrorists a chance to steal our joy.
Someday soon by His grace, we trust God that this too will pass.
Enjoy your moment of grace and joy. Weep with those who mourn, comfort the bereaved, and celebrate with those who celebrate.
Kemi Nelson’s life was full and robust. We would have liked her to stay on this side longer, to still offer us her signature scarf, but God’s ways are not our ways.
My deepest condolences to his family…friends and political associates.
For the woman who made her hairstyle a matter of personal branding and who offered us her political and megawatt smile, we say… Goodbye.