Aso-Ebi: Has It Outweighed Its Purpose?
Friendship means different things to different people. To some, it could be a person who listens attentively to their rants, a person, who lovingly cares and respects them, and to others, it could be a person who buys their aso-ebi.
You may ask, what is aso-ebi? It originated from the Yoruba tribe. It is simply a unique fabric worn by some people at ceremonies such as weddings, birthdays, funerals, etc. It is usually worn by family members and friends to symbolise unity, support, and solidarity. In our society, today, it seems aso-ebi is causing more harm than good to relationships. Recently, a Twitter user sadly expressed that she was looking forward to a friend’s wedding; however, the condition for the invite was to buy aso-Ebi. She expressed that she could not afford it due to other financial commitments she had.
Nowadays, some celebrants sell their aso-ebi at an outrageous price, far more expensive than the retail price. They see it as a means of raising funds for a flamboyant ceremony. Most people buy these materials in order not to offend their friends, while some buy them to escape victimisation. Some people also buy it not to be left out or suffer any form of discrimination at the event. This is because sometimes guests who are not wearing aso-ebi are often treated differently at such events. Souvenirs are reserved for the aso-Ebi people, and sometimes food is first served to them. It doesn’t matter whether the person who didn’t buy one brought an expensive gift for the celebrant.
People have gone into debt by borrowing money to pay for aso-ebi. Others have used money meant for more important projects (family upkeep, tuition, medical bills, etc.), while others have caused a rift in their marriage by compelling their spouse(s) to buy for them.
When we consider the long-term financial expense of buying aso-ebi, we can rightly argue that such money could have been put to better use because, aside from the cost of the material itself, you must also factor in the tailoring cost of sewing the material. One can argue that the original significance of solidarity akin to aso-ebi has slowly evolved into an avenue of social strife, a display of affluence and discrimination against people. In addition to that, some people buy it out of fear—fear of losing friends who would buy it on their own during their event.
The “madness” is gradually creeping into other areas, such as baby showers. Yes, you heard me right. Some people now require their guests to buy and appear in aso-Ebi for baby showers.
Another complaint is the souvenirs. Some people have been disappointed after buying an expensive also-Ebi because the souvenir they got from the ceremony was not proportionate to the cost of the aso-ebi. Also, should souvenirs be expected from your guests after they have bought your expensive aso-ebi?
The use of aso-ebi has deviated from what it used to be back in the day. In our present society, it comes with a lot of societal pressure, the need to be elitist, and a sense of entitlement. In today’s families, we have family members who are not on good terms because of aso-ebi. We also have another category of people who are not on good terms yet pretend to support and put up a front by wearing aso-ebi.
Nowadays, people do aso-ebi for fanfare and social media. Another problem with it is that most of the time you wear it only once because every new occasion that you attend probably has its own aso-ebi requirements; so now you find your wardrobe filled with lots of aso-ebi that you have only worn once, and in some cases, the money you invested on them could have bought you a plot of land. I have always wondered why most women hardly repeat their aso-ebi. I mean, even Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, repeats her clothes and shoes. I have listed some advice below for buyers and sellers of aso-ebi.
- Sell at an affordable price. Do not use aso-ebi as a backup for raising money for an occasion; it may backfire and leave you stranded at the end of the day.
- If you cannot afford to buy aso-ebi, look for the colour of the day for the event and select something from your wardrobe with similar colours. Consider having a small event rather than a large one, which would ultimately plunge you into debt.
- Do not stigmatise people who genuinely cannot afford your aso-ebi.
In conclusion, celebrants should be considerate of others to avoid putting their guests under undue pressure.