You Know I'm Just Joking by Ayomide Tayo: Aso-Ebi is more of a problem than anything else

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Yoruba family graduation party

Aso-Ebi is beautiful but people need to be more financially responsible with it.

I love Yoruba culture. It is beautiful, sparkly and pleasant to the eye.

At family functions, there is nothing better than the smell of hot Jollof rice cooked with firewood, the music of King Sunny Ade and Ebenezer Obey playing, and seeing your relatives.

Most Yoruba family functions are known for one thing in particular- aso-ebi (uniform dress). Many Yoruba families put on aso-ebi mostly during weddings and other joyous occasions to signify they are the celebrants.

 

Over the decades, aso-ebi has become a natural phenomenon with people and families from other tribes borrowing from the Yoruba culture. Not only is it nationalistic these days, it has grown to be a big business.

Aso-Ebi is an art, a statement of beauty and glamour. People who sell fabrics make millions from selling expensive aso-ebi to families and brides hell bent on making a statement. Aso-Ebi is now very much a part of the expensive wedding culture in Nigeria.

ALSO READ: Aso-Ebi is the only thing Yoruba people invest in

Aso-Ebi works on both sides. The groom's family wears aso-ebi and the brides family also. The bride's aso-ebi is usually more costly. Aso-Ebi on the bride's side is usually more expensive because the clothes her parents wear would normally be different from what her friends wear.

From a celebration of culture and visual spectacle, aso-ebi has become a burden for so many people. On March 7, 2016, it was widely reported that a new bride was dragged to court for a N90,00 aso-ebi debt. This debt is on the smaller side, some people owe up to hundreds of thousand.

 

Many people go into debt because of aso-ebi. Couples give so many of their friends aso-ebi who don't end up paying. At the end of it all, they would have to incur a loss.

Apart from the negative financial aspect, aso-ebi culture has gotten to the point of madness and silliness. People are bounced at weddings for not having aso-ebi. Many intending couples force their friends and relatives to buy their aso-ebi even though they don't have the money to buy it.

Aso-ebi is beautiful but it is not by force. If people cannot afford aso-ebi they shouldn't be compelled to buy. Aso-ebi is primarily for the family. The literal translation of aso-ebi is family cloth. Aso-ebi should be for the nuclear family and some members of the extended family. Not every Tom, Dick and Harry should wear aso-ebi at a family celebration.

ALSO READ: The Aso-Ebi phenomenon

Some people who are more financially considerate would tell you to wear a fila or gele of a certain colour. That makes more sense. Sinking a huge amount money into a wedding has never made sense to me.

Nigerians love to live beyond their means and it shows so much in our wedding culture. People spend tens of millions to have their wedding look like a carnival and concert but are broke the next day.

 

Weddings are beautiful as they should be. Our culture is beautiful and should not be tossed away. We shouldn't, however, drain our pockets to please everyone or look like billionaires. Everything should be done in moderation but we are Nigerians...we don't do things quietly.



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