Aso-Ebi Syndrome And Its Commercial Value | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Aso-Ebi Syndrome And Its Commercial Value

Posted: Jun 8, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

No one can say for sure now how it all started, but some older members of the society have observed that having uniformed attires sewn for family or social occasions called aso-ebi, must have had its root in the introduction of service uniforms and school uniforms by the colonial masters prior to the 1960 independence. Uniforms are worn by the military and service organisations like the Police, Prisons wardens and others as well as school children to identify them and separate them from other members of the civil society.  Senior Reporter Anthonia Soyingbe takes a holistic look at this cancerous syndrome and the commercial tricks of the aso-ebi trend.

Beautiful aso-ebi outfit

Beautiful aso-ebi outfit

Aso-ebi in the beginning, was the description of uniformed family or social attires worn on special occasions and as a distinguished symbol of unity by close families and relations. They are outfits from matching fabrics and patterns worn initially by only close family members for special events such as burial rites of their patriarchs and matriarchs.

According to research, aso-ebi custom evolved in parts of Africa where cultural dressings play significant values especially among the royal families and other highly placed or wealthy families in the society. These ones are often recognised by their attires and no one could imitate them if one does not belong to the class.

This traditional mode of dressing was however before the advent of the modern trend. Unlike before when aso ebi was restricted to cultural dresses and traditional textiles by royal families and the wealthy, the aso ebi vogue has been redefined to mean a whole lot of other things.

Aso-ebi fabrics are typically now of all kinds of materials and textiles ranging from Ankara, Lace or cotton material woven aso oke or adire to name but a few. These are also extended to various shapes and brands of head scarfs.

To some, aso-ebi connotes unity, support, identity and comradeship for the organiser of an event. But on another hand, there is more to the aso-ebi syndrome for many others.

At any organised event or occasion, aso-ebi  is a means of identifying those that have been officially invited as opposed to gate-crashers. And as such, only the officially invited guests who contributed to making aso-ebi are recognised and given preferential treatments- including choice foods, drinks, and assorted gifts among other goodies.

Little wonder there is a common slang among party planners and event managers which is, “no aso-ebi, no entry, no food”.

Some party planners have even made it a point of commercial venture to tax invitees who patronise aso-ebi and as such make buyers pay even for the entertainment they would receive as guests. “This is bastardisation of the concept and latest fraud that has come to be introduced by people” says Kikelomo Omole, an event planner.

To some people, rather than have a fuss about it, aso ebi should be used strictly as an expression of family pride and not a commercial gimmick. Some say it’s a way of showing your financial support for the celebrants in helping them ease the financial strain of the ceremony.

“Why will I have my wedding without all the aso-ebi fuss? Never, aso-ebi make occasions especially weddings colorful. It adds glamour to every occasion. Without exaggeration, I spend about N350, 000 annually on aso-ebi alone. I won’t hesitate to triple the price. I have invested into people’s aso-ebi so why won’t I reap when it is my turn?” Angela a Lagos-base banker who is playing to get married in July 2015 told our reporter.

“The part that irritates me the most is the segregation of aso-ebi wearers from non-wearers. I personally think it’s of poor taste to do this. I was at a wedding not too long ago and I wasn’t in aso-ebi but it was a clear segregation. Aso-ebi wearers were allocated the entire left side of the hall, they were told to get up and dance in with the parent of the bride, served food first, and given numerous souvenirs. On the other side of the hall, we sat and watched in dismay and wondered why on earth we were invited to the wedding. Friends were separated from friends and parents from children all because they wore aso-ebi. I don’t mind giving aso-ebi wearers favors or even specially calling them out for a picture and to dance but when you make a clear segregation amongst guests, then it’s foul,” Augusta Moyegun lamented.

In her own reaction, Adekemi Adebayo blurted, “If you are an acquaintance of mine, please don’t even bother asking me to buy aso-ebi as I’ll politely decline. I will only purchase aso-ebi from family or friends I consider close enough.

“ I’ve seen and heard about scenarios whereby brides and family members ambush people by either dropping off the fabric at someone’s home, sending it through a mutual friend and offering to come collect the money later without prior acceptance from such a friend or acquaintance. In my opinion, brides, grooms and their families who choose to go with this aso-ebi custom need to notify their guests beforehand of the color and cost of the fabric.”