Aso Ebi: Why are they wearing the same thing?

Aso Ebi is a uniform that is traditionally worn in Nigeria and other African cultures as a reflection of cooperation and solidarity during ceremonies and festive periods. Originally, the concept of Aso Ebi is targeted at reflecting identification with families, relatives or friends during social occasions.

Aso Ebi is largely prominent in the Yoruba tribe. The word Aso in Yoruba means cloth while Ebi translates relatives, so Aso Ebi can be described as clothes for relatives usually worn during any ceremony that involves family and close friends. Visitors and well-wishers of a celebrant also wear it to show support for the event and organizer.

Aso Ebi has been worn as far back as 1920 during the period of post World War 1 – When Yorubas of the same age bracket wore a uniformed attire to mark their bond. In the 1950s, members of women organizations popularly called egbe's (women'S social groups), attended ceremonies and anniversaries of relatives, friends, and mates in the same color and style of dress, sandals, lappa (wrappers), smock, and necklaces, to register their social presence.

Another interesting thing about Aso Ebi is the rivalry and competition it brings into the egbe's, with each group competing to outshine others in terms of quality, originality, and richness of the uniform.

Aso Ebi in recent times has become a city phenomenon that has been infused into other African cultures.

In the African Economy, these uniforms have been very helpful in the clothing and textile industry. Both the manufacturers and dealers of imported and local textile materials have made fortunes for themselves as a result of the exponential growth in the demand for them. Some textile dealers even offer consultation services and bulk rates for the choice and relative cost of the dress and fabrics. Selling Aso Ebi is so lucrative; some celebrants fund their budgets from the money realized from the sales of Aso Ebi.

How much you spend on the selected clothes for an event is relative, but the affordability of fabric like Ankara has contributed to the popularity of Aso Ebi for social occasions in Nigeria. Sewing and customizing the traditional attire is affordable as well, depending on the style that reflects your Afrocentric personality.

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