Aso ebi – “circle of relatives uniform” – is the Yoruba customized of folks dressing alike for social occasions. The customized is rooted in kinship (ebi), the most important side of Yoruba social existence since precolonial occasions in what’s now south-west Nigeria.
Phrases like molebi (kinsmen) and olori ebi (head of the circle of relatives) level to the significance of kinship on this tradition. The announcing eni to so ebi e nu, apo iya lo so ko actually interprets as “whoever deserts his kinsmen straps on his/her shoulder a satchel of misfortune”. Aso ebi expresses those values visibly: uniform dressing is meant to give a boost to harmony and fraternity.
Traditionally, Yoruba kinsmen wore the aso ebi – generally specifically selected materials – all through celebrations for team identity.
To start with, inclusion and participation in uniform clothes for social occasions was once limited to blood courting and mutual ancestry. As time went on, belonging to a gaggle via uniform dressing prolonged past circle of relatives circles.
From the early twentieth century, aso ebi turned into extra concerning the wish to be in contact social worth. My interviews with some aged folks in Ibadan published that, all through this era, it was once known as ankoo (uniformity) or egbejoda (team uniform). Blood ties turned into a much less vital attention for participation.
At the moment, aso ebi is an ordinary feature at social occasions like weddings, funerals, birthdays, conferments and political rallies throughout Nigeria.
As a scholar of gown in theatre, I’ve all the time been desirous about the aso ebi customized. In theatre, gown is helping inform a tale, amongst different purposes, and aso ebi may be a dressing up within the efficiency of a social match.
I sought after to understand extra concerning the trendy aso ebi traits. Anecdotal proof advised that the follow was once turning into one thing of a burden for some folks. My research bore this out: I discovered that the monetary burden of buying aso ebi was once distinguished amongst its perceived drawbacks and strengths alike.
Aso ebi as gown
In theatre and movie, gown transforms actors into characters and depicts atmosphere, tradition, age and career. It tells the target audience one thing concerning the personality’s social magnificence, financial price and standing in a hierarchy. Gown can challenge private traits, intentionally or unwittingly. It will possibly assist depict relationships in a gaggle.
In day-to-day existence, too, garments give us nonverbal clues about their wearers. They divulge age, temper, intercourse, tradition, social standing, faith, career, political association and so forth.
At social occasions, members will also be considered performers in addition to target audience individuals. Dressed in aso ebi, members are ready to play premeditated or spontaneous roles.
In the previous few many years, aso ebi has been embraced through different ethnic teams in Nigeria and the diaspora. The fashion has prolonged past the geographical and social panorama of the Yoruba folks.
A part of the rationale could also be its propensity so as to add glamour and spectacle to occasions. However much more importantly, it can be because of its inclusion tendency, because it provides wearers a way of involvement, apparently with the exception of some non-wearers, thereby drawing social Traces at social occasions.
It is not uncommon for visitors to put on equivalent materials like wax prints (Ankara), lace, brocade and different fabrics to occasions.
Making plans and coordinating this dressed in of uniforms at occasions has develop into rather a industry. Normally, a celebrant chooses the material, determines the fee and monopolises the sale to visitors. Ceaselessly the aim is to make a benefit. Visitors can’t haggle over the fee and are anticipated to prove within the cloth for the development, thereby developing the impact of cohesion and toughen for the celebrant.
Affordability and social integration have develop into extra vital concerns, pushing kinship to the again seat.
Past the glamour, the misery
In spite of the recognition of aso ebi, my study discovered that it’s inflicting some misery.
I administered questionnaires to 270 Yoruba adults (135 males and 135 girls) in Osun and Oyo states in south-western Nigeria, asking them concerning the demanding situations and deserves of dressed in aso ebi. Contributors indicated whether or not they skilled any of an inventory of demanding situations similar to price, pageant and problems of private style. The checklist of attainable deserves incorporated boosting camaraderie and collective sense of goal, and advantages to the manufacturers of the uniforms.
The effects confirmed that the principle drawback with aso ebi was once the monetary burden of getting to shop for the materials steadily. This stems from being obliged to wait social occasions and the tendency for reciprocity: “I purchased your aso ebi, purchase mine.” Other people finally end up with a big inventory of materials and are restricted of their talent to shop for, retailer and put on their very own garments.
Any other problem is that consumers of aso ebi materials don’t have a decision or the choice of bargaining, since it’s non-negotiable. And the materials and uniforms aren’t all the time to the person’s style.
Contributors additionally felt that aso ebi inspired bad flamboyant pageant.
After they answered to the checklist of attainable deserves, they gave equivalent weight to aso ebi as a booster of social incorporation and brotherly love, and as a supply of monetary worth for many who make the materials.
The follow has been commodified to the level that brotherly love, equality and social egalitarianism could also be taking a again seat. Aso ebi is speedy turning into some extent of dissension, segregating wearers. It has a propensity to create social gulfs, distancing wearers and hanging them on other tiers of the similar ladder.
Alternatively, in step with my learn about findings, some great benefits of aso ebi – like comradeship – nonetheless outweigh the demanding situations.