Peponi Beach once again became a stage for the weird and wonderful Shela Hat Contest. The event on Saturday 11th February 2012 drew hat enthusiasts from across the Lamu archipelago, and saw quite a few women joining in as well.
The standard of handmade hats was truly outstanding. In line with the competition’s aim to promote sustainability, participants used locally sourced materials. Shells, flowers and coral stone, commonly featured as decoration. Local motifs also influenced hat shapes, with headwear paying homage to the traditional kofia and the iconic dhow. Some contestants incorporated recycled waste products, like empty water bottles, discarded flip-flops and colourful metal tops from beer and soda bottles. A couple of the pieces merited the couture term ‘wearable sculpture’, and would not have been out of place on the catwalks of London or Paris.
Selecting the winners was a tough job, but a contestant from Kiwayu was unanimously awarded the top prize for his stunning, meticulously crafted ‘bird hat’ - made with real seagull feathers.
As far as the crowd was concerned, there were no losers. How could there be when everyone had so much fun? The Shela Hat Contest is fast becoming a favourite fixture in Lamu’s cultural calendar.
Many thanks to Shuruti, Mohammed Sultan (Senior Chief), Sidiki Abdulrehman, Khalila, Abdul Halim (Chairman SWG), Shiban, Ahmed Mwarabu, Jamil Athman, Nudin Abdulrehman and the people of Shela.