A popular Yoruba adage says, “Eni o wo ankara o je semo” meaning: the guest who does not wear uniform fabrics, popularly called ‘Aso ebi’ will not eat at the social gathering the fabric is meant to celebrate.
‘Aso ebi’, usually worn by family members and friends at ceremonies, has in contemporary times, become the gate pass to social events such as weddings, burials, harvests, ordination of religious leaders, political rallies and campaigns in Nigeria. It gives a sense of belonging to those who adorn them during the events. It equally makes the celebrator to feel loved and important.
According to Wikipedia, ‘Aso ebi’ is a uniform-attire traditionally worn in Nigeria and in some other West African countries as an indicator of cooperation and solidarity during ceremonies and festive periods. `Aso ebi’ can be made with Ankara, Lace, ‘Aso oke’ (hand woven fabrics), Damask, George, `atiku’, `Senator’, and a host of others materials for both men and women.
The prices of these fabrics range from N500 per pack to N150,000 depending on the class, status and taste of the celebrator. They are mostly sewn in native blouse and wrapper/skirt or gown for women and native shirt and trousers/wrapper and even ‘agbada’ for men.
‘Aso ebi’ adds beauty, colour and glamour and grandeur to events.
Analysts note that guests who wear ‘Aso ebi’ to social functions are usually believed to have directly or indirectly contributed to the success of such functions.
They also argue that those determined to identify with a celebrator through adorning of ‘Aso ebi’ often do not mind the quality or market value of the fabric.
According to analysts, a guest who refuses to adorn ‘Aso ebi’ may receive cold reception especially from ushers at the event no matter how highly placed or influential he may be.
Thus, most guests purchase ‘Aso ebi’ and appear in them on the day of the events, whether convenient or not, just to fulfill all righteousness, since they are not likely to wear them after that day.
It is also believed that some people see the purchasing of these outfits as an opportunity to acquire more clothes as they may not have the time to go to markets to buy fabrics.
A fashion designer, Mrs Seun Olujide, says an average of 10 ladies send ‘Aso ebi’ to her shop for sewing weekly because of one event or the other.
“This keeps us busy, helps us to hone our designing skills, and deepens our mastery of the art while we make a living from it.
“When our clients wear their fabrics, it gives them a sense of belonging when they get to the event venue because no one likes to feel left out. We are also fulfilled as fashion designers when our clients bring us commendation from their friends and admirers about our works.
“Personally, when I attend a wedding in ‘Aso ebi’, it increases my confidence. I don’t feel like outcast or someone who does not want to support her friend or family member,” she says.
Mr Ojo Ogidi, however, notes that some people exploit ‘Aso ebi’ buyers by selling to them at high prices, noting that this makes such people unable to sell more packs of `Aso ebi’ because some intending buyers would have carried out market survey and observed the exploitation.
“To beat such pranks, two or more potential buyers will jointly buy just a set, instead of the individuals buying a set each,’’ he argues.
A civil servant, Mr Funmi Ajayi, says she teamed up with four others and bought a set of lace materials for a wedding which the event host sold at a skyrocketing price.
“We decided to buy a set and share it among ourselves. Each of us gave to our fashion designer who combined it with other matching fabrics and sewed.
“Our host gave us a single gift which we gave to the oldest among us. By doing so, we contributed to the success of the wedding and were accorded the same recognition at the reception as others who bought and wore the full set of the lace material,’’ Ajayi says.
Mrs Boluwatife Alabi of April Fabrics, Lagos, is of the opinion that an event without ‘Aso ebi’ is incomplete.
“What is a wedding without the ‘Aso ebi’ ladies? What is a celebration of life without friends and family members cladding in `Aso ebi’ of various materials and styles?
“I make it a point of duty to select the best fabrics for my clients because the more colourful the fabrics, the more colourful the event will be,’’ the fabrics seller argues.
She explains that ‘Aso ebi’ sellers add a little amount to the market price of the fabrics to cover the cost of souvenirs to be given to guests.
“I am aware of instances where certain amount are added to the cost price by organisers, but that is to cover for souvenirs that will be distributed to guests during the function.”
A student, Miss Itunu Asamany, believes that ‘Aso ebi’ is vital to social functions as it serves as a means of identification with age mates, relatives, groups or friends.
“It always makes such events beautiful, colourful and well organised. The bride during her wedding will be able to identify her friends and close relatives by what they wear,’’ she says.
Asamany, however, condemns charging of outrageous prices for ‘Aso ebi’ by some celebrators. She is convinced that the high prices are exploitative and can discourage many potential `aso-ebi’ buyers.
“Some people go as far as adding 30 per cent of the cost price to the selling price; this is not fair at all.
“I won’t break a bank to please my friend. If the selling price of the ‘Aso ebi’ is beyond my budget, I will not buy it but go for what is within my power.”
However, a trader, Mr Koko Adeola, has a different view. He says he will not mind spending a huge amount of money on ‘Aso ebi’ for close friends but won’t bother doing so for an acquaintance.
“I will not buy an expensive “Aso ebi’’ from someone who is just an acquaintance. The level of relationship I have with you will determine whether I will attend your function in `Aso ebi’. A major advantage of ‘Aso ebi’ is that it helps to identify invited guests from those who gate-crashed,’’ he says.
He observes that ‘Aso ebi’ is less expensive for men. “Men are lucky when it comes to buying ‘Aso ebi’ because, many times, all they need to buy is just the cap which may not cost more than N500.’’
A businesswoman, Ada Mbah, is worried that ‘Aso ebi’ can breed unhealthy rivalry between families, especially, during entertainment and sharing of gifts at events.
“Why should the family and friends of the groom be refused food and drinks because they are wearing a different fabric (‘Aso ebi’) from those of the bride?
“I attended an event without wearing the ‘Aso ebi’ and I was told that only people with the uniform would be entertained and given gifts.
“I was embarrassed because I bought the fabric but did not wear it to that particular occasion. I really felt bad because I was addressed very rudely and treated like outcast.
Mbah’s friend, Deborah Ige, is of the opinion that a guest can still be treated badly even when wearing Aso ebi. She recalls when she was ignored during entertainment at a ceremony even with her ‘Aso ebi’.
He says: “I bought the fabric for the event, but when it was time for entertainment, I only got a bottle of water.’’
According to her, getting the required attention during social gatherings with or without ‘Aso ebi’ will depend on planning.
“There are instances where the population of the guests is more than what the host has budgeted for; he or she will resort to rationing foods and drinks,’’ she argues.
A marketer, Mr Joseph Omojola, is of the opinion that since ‘Aso ebi’ has become the trending gate pass to events whether secular or religious, there is the need for more security consciousness to ensure that criminal elements do not disguise as family members or friends by wearing the ‘Aso ebi’.
Analysts are convinced that wearing ‘Aso ebi’ is a major way of promoting African culture, and if well managed, will reduce foreign influence on Africans’ dressing.
They suggest that African governments should do more to promote local production of the indigenous fabrics at affordable costs and consider using them for school uniforms and office wears on certain days of the week.
Onijala writes for News Agency of Nigeria.
‘It Is Time To End Violence Against Women’
While pervasive, gender-based violence may seem to appear inevitable in our own clime, African Women Lawyers, Rivers State Chapter, believe that it can and must be prevented. To them, stopping this violence starts with believing survivors, adopting comprehensive and inclusive approaches that tackle the root causes, transforming harmful social norms, and empowers women and girls.
With women and girls living in danger around the world owing to conflict, climate-related natural disasters, food insecurity and human rights violations, which in turn exacerbate violence against women, this great body of women lawyers have decided to raise their voice against all shades of violence against women whether it be domestic or official
In pursuant of their aims and objectives, AWLA commemorate land mark dates set by the African Union and United Nations to raise awareness about the plight of women and children.
As the world engages in 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, the body avails itself the opportunity to highlight some violent and of course harmful practices Nigerian women are continually subjected to, as well as condemn such and create the awareness among the populace that perpetrators of such inhumane acts on a folk that deserves and desires protection in all spheres, will receive a bang of the law.
This year, AwLA is using the window provided by the United Nations via the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, to contribute their own quota especially as it relates to condemning in concrete terms, societal practices that run foul to the healthy development of the women.
Activities outlined in commemorate of the 2021 version of the 16 days of activisms against gender based violence include; advocacy and sensitization visits to Khana Local Government and Oginigba in Obio/Akpor Local Government on 26th and 30th November respectively while free legal clinic takes place in Port Harcourt Local Government on 29th of November.
While the program lasts, stakeholders are expected to brainstorm on how to solve the challenges faced by women, while women will be enlightened on their right as well as be sensitized on how to seek redress.
In a chat with The Tide woman Editor, Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi, the Coordinator of the African Women Lawyers Association, Hilda Desmond-Ihekaire, said her association is quite proactive on issues that bother on women and children’s rights.
She encouraged women to speak out against injustice meted on them by people who are supposed to protect their interest, stating that the era of accepting every awkward treatment against them is over. She enjoined them to avail themselves the opportunity of the free legal clinic provided at this season to vent out their grievances.
The AWLA coordinator revealed that her association is already handling matters of gender based violence in court at the moment and would stop at nothing until the public comes to appreciate that women are also human that should not be treated unjustly.
AWLA is a group of women lawyers with the aim and objective of protecting the right and interest of women and children in Africa. They do this through multi facetted approach, using advocacy, sensitization campaign and probono litigation services on women and children’s issues
16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign to challenge violence against women and girls. The campaign runs every year from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day.
By: Sylvia ThankGod-Amadi
NAWOJ Moves To Check Violence Against Women, Girls … Seeks More Action, Resources
Chairman, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Rivers State Chapter, Susan Serekara-Nwikhana, has called for strengthened actions and resources to address violence against women and girls in the society.
Speaking to newsmen in Port Harcourt, yesterday, November 25, 2021 to commemorate this year’s 16-Days of Activism, with the theme: ‘Orange the world: End Violence Against Women Now’, the Chairman, NAWOJ, Rivers State Chapter stated that violence against women and girls reached pandemic proportion especially during the COVID-19 hit that resulted to lockdown.
Serekara stressed that as lockdown measures were implemented to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, domestic violence intensified as school closures and economic strains left women and girls poorer, out of school and out of jobs, making them more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, forced marriage, and harassment.
“We believe that ending violence against women will require strengthened actions by the government through more investment in women and girls,” she said, regretting that formal reports of domestic violence have decreased, yet survivors find it harder to seek help and access support through the regular channels. She further noted that the 16 days of activism is an expression that gender-based violence though not inevitable, can and must be prevented.
“While gender-based violence can happen to anyone, anywhere, some women and girls are particularly vulnerable – for instance, young girls and teenage girls who are employed as house helps . Violence against women continues to be an obstacle to achieving equality, development, peace as well as to the fulfillment of women and girls’ human rights,” Serekara added.
By: Susan Serekara-Nwikhana
NAWOJ Seeks Adequate Protection, Provision For Children
Aware of the numerous problems children face especially with the current harsh economy of our nation, the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Rivers State has stressed the need to protect the lives of children while investing in their future.
The association said this during this year’s commemoration of “The Universal Children’s Day”, that had “investing in our children means investing in our future”, as its theme.
This was contained in a statement signed by the association’s Chairman and Secretary, Mrs Susan Serekara-Nwikhana and Dr Ngozi Anosike, respectively.
The statement described the essence of the day as a time to improve the welfare for all children.
“NAWOJ is using this special day to call on governments at all levels to ensure that every child is given the means requisite for its normal development, both materially and spiritually, while cautioning parents against reproducing the number of children they cannot properly care for but give them out at their tender ages as house helps thereby exposing them to all forms of abuse.
“NAWOJ appreciates the fact that to invest in our nation requires that the child that is hungry is fed, the child that is sick nursed, the child that is backward helped, the delinquent child reclaimed, and the orphan and the unsheltered are secured”.
It commended the Governor of the State, Chief Nyesom Wike for ensuring that the Rehabilitation Centre at Iriebe is operating at optimum capacity.
NAWOJ recalls that during the commissioning of the rehabilitation Centre, Governor Wike magnanimously doled out N250million to the ministry of social welfare, just to ensure regular power supply and smooth running of the facility, a gesture NAWOJ appreciates so much as it translates to giving the children a sense of belonging.
The association also stressed the need to save the lives of new born babies in maternity homes and hospitals and called on Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company to as a matter of necessity ensure regular power supply to those facilities.
The association in the statement regretted the death of premature children in the Intensive Care Unit of OPM Free Hospital at Aluu axis of the State as a result of power outage.
“Universal Children’s Day, celebrated annually on the 20th of November, is not just a day to celebrate children for who they are, but to bring awareness to children that have experienced violence in forms of abuse, exploitation, and discrimination”, the statement added.
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