It’s a cultural trend that gained popularity from the western part of Nigeria.
This invloves same color of fabric or style for family and friends of the couple to look close for easy identification at ceremonies especially weddings. Weddings on the other hand brings people together they happen to be the only free events where I can wear my 50 to 70 per cent discounted foreign merchandise that has clogged my wardrobe for a few years. So the least I can do is honour the invitations before roaches start to burrow holes into my outfits. ..lol
What started from burial ceremonies has now been extended to wedding ceremonies, naming ceremonies, freedom and graduation ceremonies, birthday bashes, chieftaincy ceremonies, house-warming ceremonies, political campaign and all sorts of ceremonies for which people would not have bothered to use aso-ebi in times past. In Nigeria, during parties you see people wearing the same material. It is called aso ebi. Aso Ebi translated to English means family cloth. It is usually worn in ceremonies such as weddings and burials as a uniform or identification that you belong to a certain family.
FAF (friends and family) :We have carried out an amicable research and survey and we can truly say of a fact that the aso-ebi trend is much more than a uniform. If you are not wearing one, you are more than likely to starve at the event. If you don’t collapse from starvation, you will choke from your own saliva or you might just not get in because the bulging muscled bouncer stops you with a hand wave and a stern look. Seriously its gotten out of hand and now even if youre not friends with the couple your societal conscience tell you to buy it and wear for people you don’t know o… mmh so you wont be the odd one out, o jesu help us! Some invitations even include you wearing the asoebi , how sad…
Souvenirs distress: Its even now a determinant factor to say who gets a souvenir or not… very heart breaking, I can imagine some wont even bother attending because in the end they will either be embarrassed directly or indirectly. I have also come to understand that the Aso- Ebi is a seminal factor in the kinds of souvenirs you receive. If you bought the 15K lace, perhaps you get a rechargeable lamp; for the 5K fabric maybe a thermal cup or laundry basket and if it’s the 3K ankara, expect nothing less than a branded pen and a handkerchief smeared with the faces of the bride and groom. Very high priced Aso- Ebi can yield you toasters, electric kettles and even iPods, depending on the amount of wealth on display.
Couples financial support: But some said it is a way of supporting the celebrants to make their day glorious. Depending on the calibre of people involves, the cost differs while some take affordable clothes, and some go for the high classic expensive fabrics. There are Aso ebi purchased by the social class among the creme-de-la-creme that cost a whopping N150,000 and above while the middle class may go for those between N13,000 to N25,000 then the lower class take those between N1,500 to N5,000 but most people said the style is what brings out the beauty.
This is because the wedding invites could be fabricated and your telephone battery could let you down at any point, putting a scrambled end to your text invite. So that ankara, damask or French lace is the only item that can authenticate your affiliations with either bride or groom.
Glamour: People make different and unique styles with these fabrics thanks to our creative fashion designers across the country. These styles also add glamour to the occasion. Lace and Ankara are some of the popular fabrics that can be chosen as Aso-ebi because of their acceptability which transcends different ethnic groups in the country. The aso-ebi material for the celebrants and their family is often different from others. friends, colleagues and other well-wishers are sometimes seen in different designs of the colour to march the occasion. In times past, Aso-ebi could just be Aso-oke head tie for females and cap for males or an ankara or lace material for the occasion
Attention: The aso ebi has its advantage, you automatically become the cynosure if all eyes depending on how daring you couture is and the bling to accessorize it. But really the celebrant should be the centre of attention. Then of course you are entitled to the special goody bag of souvenirs. Your aso ebi is like a VIP ticket throughout the day and indeed you are treated like family. Unfortunately, that is where it all ends except of course you still owe. Then the calls start coming, texts, emails…in short anything for them to get their money even after the wedding is long gone and concluded.
Who’s who: this has so much brought class discrimination, why?! nowadays, you can have as many as twenty different Aso-ebi’s for a particular occasion and the one you buy is determined by who invited you to the occasion, that way they can tell if you are cheap, broke or rich in the society. Smh!!!
This article deals with a cultural practice known as aso ebi in urban Lagos, Nigeria. Aso ebi refers to uniformed dress worn by friends and family members during social events in Nigeria. The article looks at aso ebi as a cultural practice, originally of the Yoruba, which has been absorbed into Nigerian society such that it is now seen as a national culture by many other ethnic groups in Nigeria. Part of the argument of this article is that through aso ebi national culture is invoked in Nigeria and the concept of aso ebi clothes as 'traditional dress' is a consequence of commodification and global capitalism. Even though it seems an acceptable cultural practice in Nigeria, modern practice of aso ebi embodies a redefinition of family and friendship networks. Again modern (mis)use locates aso ebi within the broader discourse of corruption as used by certain politicians. The article, while understanding aso ebi within broader intersections of life and politics of dress, also demonstrates the ambivalence of self fashioning as women try to outdo each other in sartorial presentation during aso ebi outings.
Now aso ebi is worn by nearly every Tom, Dick and Harry whenever there is a case for celebration and in Nigeria we know how to celebrate. We have parties for everything; birthday, naming ceremony, weddings (all religions and culture included) graduation, any form of achievement, shop launching and housewarming just to mention a few. Having fun is not bad but the key is moderation.
A typical example is a child’s birthday, there are usually two stages; the early part of the day is dedicated to the child, do there is kiddy related entertainment, candy floss and the likes. Then there is the night party, that is the real grove where you see all the adults coming out to bubble in their 9 inch killer heels with matching designer bags and you said it aso ebi? Yes people can buy aso ebi for a one year old’s birthday party.
These are hard times whatever happened to people calling colors just like it on the invitation card and ending it there? But no! Aso Ebi is for the select not just family but anyone who can afford to buy it. Now you can only buy the particular lace or damask or ankara from the designated person who I trust is making a kill. Stories have been said about people funding their weddings through aso ebi. Personally sourcing for aso ebi usually proves to be a futile exercise; imagine spending your Saturday morning combing through the market, your chances of finding it are quite slim but you are most likely going to find something close to it, which is just as bad as wearing your own outfit. Most of the time you are cajoled, coerced, coaxed and even blackmailed into buying form the source as credit is offered ironically even during the credit crunch.
It does not end there. In fact the competition has just begun. The next step is to sew the most innovative creative and drop-dead-in-your-track outfit. Just have a look at any of the local weekly fashion soft sell magazines. The sewing does not come cheap either. There is always this tailor or seamstress or designer that is well known and hence comes with a ridiculously inflated price. If it was me, I would give the road side tailors, but how many people will have faith in that? They are thinking that all their aso ebi with more than all their share put together, would be ruined and all that go down the drain. So they go with the tried and tested and make all the preparations to be set for the d-day, some even go as far as making the outfit smaller than incentive to lose weight.
So I think I would rather be indebted to my bride-to-be friend by not buying aso ebi and make it up with a nice thoughtful present than be in debt… at least not for aso ebi may be for meaningful things like a house or car at least I can use long after the wedding. Thereby in my own little way preserving the sanctity of aso ebi to be strictly an expression of family pride and not a commercial gimmick.