Observably, parties especially frivolous ones, otherwise referred to as “Owambes” in this part of the world, remain incomplete without attendees adorning, at least one uniformed type of apparel which in most cases, comes in the popular Ankara fabric. This kind of clothing which has an obvious origin in the Yoruba culture is known as “Aso-ebi” in popular Nigerian parlance.
Despite the fact that quite a lot goes into the planning stage of any party or merry occasion in our society, no other item, in the contemporary Nigerian social setting, constitute as much importance as the subject of Aso-ebi. Infact, in most instances, it is usually discussed before the subject of food is considered at all. So much premium is placed on the selection process of ‘ this thing’ such that more consultation is done in its regards than the issue of selecting a school for a child!
Gone are the days when this practice was confined to the circles of the unsophisticated and unlearned people, these days the reverse is the case as Aso-ebi has forced its ways into the corporate and enlightened world.
Just last two weeks, the ruling party, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) held a national event during which the who-is-who in the Nigerian political terrain, the sophisticated and supposedly learned leaders of this country were sighted in a beautiful green Ankara Aso-ebi. Without any more instances, the PDP event was a good attestation to the fact that Aso-ebi has come to be entrenched, not only among the Yorubas but as a National culture.
Many reasons have been put forward on several occasions as the rationale behind this practice. To some people, Aso-ebi is the only point one can make to register his/her support and solidarity for any celebrant. They believe that one major means through which an Yös kursu ankara individual can assure a celebrant of his/her unflinching support is to “help” the celebrant by taking part in the purchase of a selected Aso-ebi fabric. The support, to this school of thought, becomes more demonstrated when such an individual attends the party or occasion, proudly in the Aso-ebi.
As much as this symbolic solidarity makes some senses, especially when considered from the African communal, close-knitted large family culture perspective, one can easily make an argument that merely buying and appearing in a particular outfit during events does not indicate that one is not wishing the celebrant the worst of evils. Or what can one say about a hired assassin who appeared in the chosen Aso-ebi fabric for a particular celebration in order to gain entrance into the party ground and possibly wade off all manners of suspicion as to his mission of eliminating the celebrant, in a secluded place (say, the toilet) at the party venue before the expiration of the party? Hence, the issue of Aso-ebi being a way of demonstrating support and solidarity may not hold too much logic.
Yet another school of thought, really a pro Aso-ebi school, claim that the practice helps the celebrant to cushion the effects which his/her expenses for the party must have wrought on his/her wallet. It is believed that by inflating the cost of the fabric, the celebrant, who more often is responsible for the selection and distribution of the cloth, would be able to recoup most of his/her expenses on the party, especially on the provision of food and drinks.
The custom is this. A celebrant combs the market for a cheap but deceptively expensive-looking fabric; sells to friends and well-wishers with, say 50% inflation; in the name of wanting to share “gifts of appreciation” to those who share in the purchase of the fabric. Only for him/her to distribute cheap match-boxes (with matches inside of course), plastic hand-fans, toilet soaps, noodles packs and others of such articles, the costs of which is in no way close to the “profits” made from the sale of the cloths.
Now, that exactly accounts for the further entrenchment of this practice among Nigerians. Having understood the game thoroughly, one (especially those who had been victims) would not want to be complete losers. They, therefore in return look (and create, where there is none) for every opportunity to host parties and sell Aso-ebi in order to recoup earlier “investments”. After all, One good Turn, deserves another!