Despite the prevailing economic conditions, floods and other natural disasters, suicide bombings, robberies, kidnappings and other heinous crimes that take place on a daily basis, there is always a silver lining in each situation. The floods in Queensland have not nullified the triumphs and drama at the Australian Opens, despite the hardship that affected people are currently undergoing and what awaits the Australian economy as a whole. Neither have the religious attacks in Egypt and Iran made celebrations of newly born babies, birthdays and wedding anniversaries a thing of the past. The scale maybe affected, but that the family will certainly celebrate it one way or the other is a given.
As a people Nigerians love celebrations of every conceivable type and don’t stint when it is possible to mark it. It may be on a grand scale, moderate or small one, but celebrate we must! The most prominent people that have emerged as the ‘loudest’ when it comes to this are the people of the south-west. Yes o, the ngbatis have it! I cannot be accused of tribalism in this case, since I am proudly Yoruba and the characteristics that run across board have been regularly satirized and it has become a way of life. Interestingly, the three major tribes have been tarred with the same brush and it’s a common occurrence to hear not just Yoruba and Igbo jokes, but Hausa related ones too. The fact is, uniqueness is a good thing and we’ll discover that over time, some hitherto exclusive cultural aspect of a certain people has slowly sipped into the national fabric.
The most glaring one is the preponderance of the aso-ebi as a way of life. I’m not certain of the pacesetter in this instance, but I suspect that the flamboyant people of the south-west may have been the culprits in this instance. Aso-ebi (for me) sounds so much more interesting when the original phrase is used, the term ‘uniform’ does not quite capture the essence of the concept. Simply defined it means, ‘cloth of the family’ and so we can deduce that it’s for a closely knit set of people. As we know, the family in the African context does not just refer to the nuclear but also refers to the extended aspect of it. A connection of blood, relations and mutual association is adduced when the parade of the cloth begins!
So when the aso-ebi is featured as part of campaign paraphernalia, or is worn to party primaries we understand the psychology behind it. On the other hand, sending aso-ebi to a mere acquaintance that may not be so affiliated or closely connected (or worse yet a total stranger) is a no, no! Apart from the financial investment it entails, first and foremost it depicts a bond of sorts. Grossly overestimating someone’s interest or regard for you is a grievous one. Assuming that they can foot the bill is one, thinking their interest in you runs to the depth where they don’t mind flaunting it for all and sundry, is something else altogether! I’m not sure if it’s done to return aso-ebi (although I do know of an incident when this has been done), but proper evaluation is required in order for this not to occur in the first place. Saving face and the embarrassment this may otherwise cause is crucial.
Giving people (family inclusive) the option of acknowledging their association with you through the aso-ebi should be a voluntary one. They should also not be coerced into the act either overtly or covertly too. In some cases the heavy financial outlay for the items may not be worth it and they may not know how to communicate it to the celebrant. Thus when celebrants make it optional or have different categories available for interested parties it helps. Underestimating your relevance (or properly analysis) and importance in other people’s lives will never backfire and ultimately save you grief in the long run. The regard that others have for you is not measured in the number that wore a particular aso-ebi for the wedding or funeral last month! Keeping our perspective on this issue and other important human relations is crucial to the fundamentals of relationships no matter their context.