It is all fun and games until you pay double the actual amount for a fabric that you are certain will not make it past one wash or borrow an amount that breaks your heart to purchase the asoebi fabric or even trek the miles of Balogun, Yaba,Oshodi or Wuse market as the case may be to purchase a fabric similar to the asoebi fabric or worse of all miss out completely on a close friend’s wedding because you could not afford the cost of the asoebi.
I cannot pretend that I do not know what the asoebi fuss is about because I have witnessed firsthand the discrimination and segregation of asoebi wearers from non-asoebi wearers at wedding parties. At a wedding I attended I watched in horror at not only the sitting arrangements but also the embarrassing Pass-over of the meals being served. While the asoebi wearing guests had an overflow of food, drinks, and souvenirs on their tables, water was a luxury on the tables of the non-asoebi wearing guests. In some cases, only the asoebi wearing friends are allowed to dance the bride into the reception hall.
This was the reason why I treated my younger sisters telephone call at the end of the month with some degree of empathy when she asked me in what she thinks is her “you can’t say no to me voice”, to borrow her 30k for the asoebi fabric for her friend’s wedding. My sister Chichi is not even employed so I know the words “borrow me” was not used in the literal context.
As I gave Chichi my sermon on the dignity of living within her means, I bit my lower lip because it struck me that I was being a hypocrite. Only 2weeks ago, my boss distributed the 50k asoebi for her daughter’s wedding, a girl that I have never met. I recalled the subtractions I had to make from my savings as our salaries were yet to be paid at that time. My colleagues and I were not obliged to accept the fabric but I know my boss will make a mental note of those buying the asoebi. I bowed to the silent pressure and wished for longer than a second that I was a man who had the luxury of paying only 5k for fila (cap).
Honestly, I feel we need to do a double take at this point on this asoebi trend. Our asoebi culture is not novel neither is it peculiar to Nigeria. Our parents and grandparents wore asoebi in the past in their weddings and other celebrations but this was done in grace and not to the point of treating the not so affluent who could not afford it as though they were inferior. Some brides and their families have taken advantage of the new asoebi trend to rake in huge profits by inflating the prices of the fabrics.
Do not get me wrong, I actually really love and take pride in our Asoebi tradition. The burst of colours and assorted styles speaks to our culture, but when one cannot afford it, it is not okay to feel the need to break a leg or stand the chance of being treated as an outcast.
Let us recall the fact that the essence of a wedding party is to invite our family, friends and loved ones to celebrate with us on our special day. Since this is the case, let us try to give the same accord to all our guests during our special moments regardless of whether or not they have purchased the asoebi fabric.