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Osun launches Ijinle project to preserve vintage Yoruba tailoring

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In what has been described as a bold, unique move, the state government of Osun has launched a social enterprise project, the Ijinle Project to preserve the age-old Yoruba heritage of vintage tailoring through the training and empowerment of new generation master-crafts women and men for the fast dying skill. 

The project is a partnership with Kabiru Durojaiye, a 56-year-old and a 30 years vintage tailoring veteran who serves the creme de la creme of Nigerian Elite and has struggled to get dependable youths to pass on the skills to. 

According to him, the project will train, equip and setup 15 master-craftsmen and master-craftswomen from Osun as entrepreneurs in making vintage Yoruba dresses which is going into extinction.

Yoruba pieces like the traditional Agbada, Kembe, Agadashi, Danshiki amongst other conventional Yoruba wears.

Conceived by governor Rauf Aregbesola and Wale Adeeyo, Chairman, Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, the facilitators of the programme seek to resuscitate the dying craft especially with young people by placing the most willing and capable of Osun youths with requisite tailoring skills under an action-packed internship programme for five months.

Subsequently the successful entrepreneurs will be set up as a production cluster based out of Osun serving states in the southwest and beyond.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Enterprise and Wealth Creation, Demola Adetoyese, said the initiative is to further strengthen the human capital development drive of the Aregbesola administration by providing job and wealth creation platforms for the citizenry.

He explained that after the internship training in Lagos, successful trainees will join other creative fashion entrepreneurs at a world class Ethnic Fashion Show after which they will be settled in a production cluster in Osun with a business development presence in Lagos.

Speaking with The Guardian at the training centre in Surulere, Durojaiye who makes native and foreign outfits, lamented that youths are not ready to learn the craft these days but were in a hurry to make money quickly without doing anything.

“I have been looking for credible and serious minded people that I can pass my skill to, but most are not ready to learn and want to leave to set up shops quickly without knowing the nitty-gritty of the work.

It wasn’t lack of a job that made me go into tailoring, it was my father’s job and I developed interest in it.”

On youths that have finished from school and haven’t gotten jobs and have refused to learn work, he says office job is not a do-or-die affair and they should learn a craft as soon as possible.

“A lot of our youths these days don’t even want to learn work properly before they run away and establish themselves, that’s why there are so many bad tailors these days.

But I believe with this initiative, we are on the right path to establishing world-class tailors that can work anywhere and would teach others.

The idea is train one to train another, so at the end of this training, it is our firm belief that they would go forth and train hundreds of others, creating a multiplier effect and providing a sustainable means of livelihood for thousands.”

One of the beneficiaries of the program, Yunus Nuraeni Ajadi, said they were selected from the OYES Academy and after written and practical tests, were selected to come for the training.

“I didn’t believe I was going to be picked because there were many people and I felt they were better than me but I made the final cut.

This training will help me to be better than I was before and give me the opportunity to expand from my small village back in Osun.”

Adenike Mary Ibrahim, a female recipient, confirmed that she was afraid of leaving her family and small tailoring business back in Osun but she says she had to do it to become more proficient.

“We have been promised seed capital to buy machines and tools at the end of the training, things I never thought would be possible.

I used to sew for women and simple styles for men but with this training, I would become proficient in both.

We are being taught all kinds of styles, things I had never even seen since I started sewing, we even do embroidery by hand.

The embroidery on the blue agbada was done by hand, these are skills that are slowly dying out but are now being resuscitated with this programme,” she said.

Durojaiye confirmed that this was the pilot programme and the subsequent ones will be held in Osun after the first batch of trainees return home who will in turn form clusters and pass on the knowledge and skill gained to others.


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