Human parasite: Aso ebi craze

Is Aso Ebi really our tradition?

Aso ebi in Nigeria is a situation whereby a group of people wear the same attire in outings such as wedding, funeral, christening, graduation etc. When sending out invitations for an event, accompanied is a sample of clothing that the host wanted guests to wear so everyone looks the same on the day.

The problem with this now is that the tradition has gone beyond any logic that in a given year, very likely that a dozen out of a score invitations received would require one to buy new item of clothing specific for each occasion. Political  rallies across the country has joined in the ‘tradition’ too.

Never has eavesdropping been so sweet! Not that it is socially acceptable but in this instance I got a good feeling throughout the day relishing in the fact that I am not the only odd one, that many people are out there sick of Aso ebi craze.

On a bus minding my business was a lady on the phone trying really hard to convince her sister not to buy into the craziness of Aso Ebi that the guests coming to their family wedding should not be subjected to yet another expenses for the occasion, She stresses what matters is that lively atmosphere is created for the guests and that people should be allowed to where what they liked.

I heard her saying “What tradition?” Which suggests her sister thought Aso Ebi is a Nigeria tradition. My co-passenger on the bus threatened her sister that she did not want to be a part of a senseless tradition where wastage of limited resources is celebrated. The whole conversation was in Yoruba and this makes it even sweeter.

Is Aso Ebi really our tradition?

In the late 1940s, Chief Hubert Ogunde a respected Nigerian artist of diverse talents having observed the new trend sweeping through Lagos whereby guests at events such as wedding or funerals were made to buy new set of outfits to each occasion being invited to. Chief Ogunde could see ahead how easily the trend can get out of hand because really it is not about the occasion, it is more about bragging and showing off individual’s wealth.

Based on this, Hubert Ogunde termed the trend social evil as it exposes how the less well-off could be easily alienated from a group and more importantly was citizens focus being shifted from important issues that could add to the quality of life such as toilets to materialism that fades away as quickly as they came. He subsequently wrote a two Acts play titled Human Parasite so as to call attention of the public into the social menace.

More than six decades after the play was written, Aso Ebi craze has been adopted throughout Nigeria and If Chief Ogunde were to be alive today, he’d probably be ‘sweating.’ There is a saying in Yoruba that when elders sweat when giving a speech about important issues, the beads of the sweat are tears.

Here is the president joining in the craze at the expense of good schools, sanitation to mention but a few.



Categories: Africa, Nigeria

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19 replies

  1. I’m a gown-person but my senior loves her 2 wrapper. Hmmmm…so what do I do? For every family gathering we have our colors and material picked and I’m ‘forced’ to tie 2 wrapper. As much as I don’t like it much, I’m grateful that it serves its purpose later when we have a need for it. Well this is just between me and my sisters (including sis-inlaws if you want) and its always unique and really affordable. Not the cut-your-throat-before-you-buy-and-can’t-wear-it-another-day-kind.

    I agree with you about the craze, but I rather wear something else be different (which is the ME I know) than look like someone in school uniform and like you rightly said sometimes you can’t wear it again. What is it with Aso-ebi anyway?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks, Folakemi, for this.

    Even though I live most of the time in Nigeria, I did not know that the problem of excessive spending, including young women who can barely afford it to be caught in the aṣọ ẹbi menace (a.e.m) till some years ago when I read an essay in the rested beautiful newspaper, 234NEXT. Ms. Gbonjubola Babalola, who wrote the comments had wondered aloud at where all the a.e.m. would take women.

    A single person CAN make a difference. Several people responded to Ms. Babalola’s “rant” – it was a contribution to a weekly column 234NEXT called RANTS but when I tried to google Gbonjubola’s a.e.m “rant”, I was directed to my follow-up contribution; 234NEXT seems not shelved for public accessibility.

    Those interested can find bits and pieces of Gbonjubola’s a.e.m. “rant” through my old blog, emotanafricana.com as well as my response.

    The more we speak out about such a “social evil” as late Maestro, Hubert Ogunde aptly described it, the better the chances of one day reducing it to its old purpose and glory.

    Thanks for always sharing these essays.

    Regards,
    TOLA.

    http://emotanafricana.com/2011/06/11/blogs-elsewhere-aso-ebi-menace/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You know Folakemi, I was right there with you until the end and you – finally – got in your obligatory dig at Mr. Jonathan – man looks good by the way! No, actually, I find myself somewhat on the fence here. While it may not be ‘traditional’ to dress like twins I don’t really have a problem with setting a dress code for your wedding, or other social event, including a civil disobedience gathering. Now then, the expense part of it, I guess in large part, you have me; but if you believe, as Chief Ogunde did, that in essence the ‘host’ in placing his/her request was “bragging and boasting about their wealth” nothing I or anyone else says will deter you. I really see nothing wrong with it (I don’t think it’s required for attendance, but admit I could be wrong) over here – as you know – members of a wedding party often are required to dress like zombies; guests now there – again – you got me. As for President Jonathan, this time I’m back on his side

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nothing wrong with bragging or showing off perse as don’t we all do it one way or the other however, Aso Ebi becomes annoying when it is the prerequisite for all social events.

      In Nigeria we have Aso Ebi for everything including birthday parties for a one year old child, family reunions and most absurd one remembrance of a hundred year old funeral of a dear family member.

      As for Jonathan, when a leader of a country who should lead by example is leading on the wasteful trend, it is more than a pity. Don’t worry GEJ would be happy to have you back!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My mum calls the whole aso-ebi idea ”crase-mental”, it is absurd, it does not depete anything in a ceremony other than materialism and you know, we actually compete with each other in aso-ebi designs, all for the purpose of ”show off” and others think to be on the aso-ebi craze in a ceremony automatically makes you ”out there”, men will see you, I join you to say BULLSHIT…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! It is mental.

      And you see irony is lost on us, beyond reasoning. A friend was begging all around to borrow some money because her sister wanted all siblings to wear special Swiss Lace at her wedding.

      You have never been to Ghana but you wanted Swiss Lace? A lawyer still looking for decent job after 3 years of qualification but you wanted to borrow to buy Swiss Lace, how would you pay back? Ola wanted to kill me so she hung up.

      I did call back to apologise for the interrogation but I made my point 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am in agreement with you Folake, the aso ebi has really gotten out of hand. Especially in Nigeria where events are an everyday thing, it is imposing on people to have to waste money each week on an aso ebi and the sad part is, these days they are expensive and you can’t even repeat them to another event because everyone already knows you wore it before. It is a total waste of money. I sincerely hope this craze dies down.

    Liked by 3 people

    • And they sure know when to start annoying you with cloth samples – from your first salary.

      Well, the craziness will stop from you and I 🙂 I refused to wear one for my sister’s wedding – makes no sense especially when every adults have different tastes…

      Liked by 2 people

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