9 August 2016
Many men in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, have decried women’s obsession with uniform attire for occasions, popularly called “aso-ebi’’ or “an-ko’’ saying party wears have taken serious toll on their finances.
The practice of wearing “Aso-Ebi’’ originated from the Yoruba people of the southwest, but the meaning has been so much bastardised that what we have today is not anywhere near the concept.
Literarily translated, it means “family attire’’ or a particular type of fabric a family has chosen to all wear to celebrate an occasion.
“An-Ko’’ also has a close meaning as it is a coinage from the English phrase (….&Co.) or (….and Company) as you have in companies statutory names. For Example, Yetunde and Co; meaning Yetunde and company, the company here meaning friends and well-wishers. Over the years, …and Co, became “An-ko’’.
Some of the men who spoke in Abuja said their spouses’ quest for “aso-ebi’’ was affecting their economic status badly.
Mr Olamide Johnson, a civil servant, complained that his wife spent a lot of money on acquiring “aso-ebi’’ for occasions to the detriment of family finances.
“I don’t know the person that even brought this idea of “aso-ebi’’ into our society. It has made a lot of women to strive very hard towards acquiring them for weddings or other occasions.
“This quest has affected my finance as my wife has made it a point of duty to wear “aso-ebi’’ for any wedding we are attending,’’ he complained.
Mr Chidi Nwosu, a businessman, said that his wife’s quest for “aso-ebi’’ had brought a lot of quarrel into their home.
“I have banned my wife from sewing any “aso-ebi’’ again, as it has caused a lot of fight in our home.
“The money that we are supposed to use for other things, she diverts to buy “aso-ebi’’ to attend weddings and other ceremonies,’’ he said.
Similarly, Mr Ezekiel Sunday decried his wife’s obsession for wearing uniform clothes to the extent of borrowing money from people or collecting the clothes on credit.
“Even when I refuse to give her money for “aso-ebi’’, she uses virtually all her salary to buy them, to the extent of borrowing just to get the clothes,’’ he said.
Mr Olu Mattew advised that women should convert the money earmarked for “aso-ebi’’ to buy useful gifts for the couple.
“Instead of buying “aso-ebi’’ that are expensive, people should rather concentrate on gifts or giving the couple money that they could use in their homes.
“An alternative is to wear the wedding colours of the day for the occasion; it mustn’t be “aso-ebi’’ or an-ko,’’ he said.
“Aso-ebi’’ or “An-ko’’ for ceremonies began in the 20th Century, especially among the Yorubas of the southwest.
The practice spread to all parts of Nigeria giving it nation-wide endorsement.
It is, however, getting more complex.
Fabrics usually used for “aso-ebi’’ or “An-ko’’ is ankara (wax material) which is arguably the cheapest in the market and sells for between N2,500 and N7,000, depending on the capacity of the celebrants.
In most cases, fabrics for caps and headgears are added to complete the attire, and costs may increase by N500 or N2,000.
These days, the main reason for “aso-ebi’’ or “an-ko’’ in most cases, is to raise funds for the celebrator to finance his or her ceremony or occasion.
The celebrators in many ceremonies compensated those who bought the “aso-ebi’’ with gifts at the occasion, the cost of the gifts in many cases, have been added to the cost of the fabrics.
The issue of “aso-ebi’’ has come to stay in the country and may take serious economic hardship or public enlightenment to eradicate it.