Nigerians are characteristically loud.
When they celebrate, they do it big.
Wedding parties, burial ceremonies, naming ceremonies, birthdays and other anniversaries are perfect excuses to paint the town red and invade social media with hashtags.
The trend is so attractive that some of those who cannot afford these big parties go as far as borrowing money or having parties on credit just so their celebrations can be the talk of town.
A trend that is employed to fulfill this cause is the aso-ebi trend.
Known to originate from the Yorubas (even though my mum thinks it originated from a story in Matthew in the bible), aso-ebi is a family fabric bought in large quantities which is then sold to prospective attendees of forthcoming celebrations so that they can, usually with the help of a tailor, bring creativity to life.
Aso ebi literarily means ‘attire for the family’ meaning only family members of the bride and groom made clothes from a particular fabric, probably for easy identification.
But as the tradition prevailed, it extended to friends, well-wishers and eventually every attendee including acquaintances and even strangers.
Aso ebi is a good idea because it brings about creative uniformity, adds colour and zest to occasions (have you seen those bellanaija weddings?).
However, it has also evolved to represent the meal ticket; it determines whether item 7 applies to you or not.
It is your assurance that you will be fed and well attended to at a party, more so as your proof of acquaintanceship is the very attire you’re wearing (never mind that you mixed and matched strips of the remnant of your friend’s fabric who invited you and you do not even know the bride, groom or any family member for that matter).
Your proof of admittance is visible and easy to identify so you will have yourself to blame if you do not appear in the aso-ebi or if your tailor messed up your fabric irredeemably; even if you are best friends with or even directly related to the couple, accept the bottom-of-the-pot rice, second hand services and bottom-of the-rung treatment that may be meted out to you.
Not only does aso-ebi guarantee you a seat at the table, it also secures your bragging rights.
If you top up your aso-ebi with the right dose of confidence, anyone- the waiters, the ushers, the MC -can mistake you for the bride’s sibling and oblige your request, whether it’s an extra plate of food or a front row seat.
The traditional etiquette of being early and present in church for the solemnization which is the main ceremony and even bringing gifts, no matter how expensive, won’t exclude you from the consequences of not wearing aso-ebi.
However, there is a fall back if the tailor messes your fabric, if you have more than one event at once and can’t therefore have multiple wardrobe changes or if you just don’t want to wear the aso-ebi– eat before you leave your house.
That way, not getting served isn’t such a big deal.
Even fast foods can go a long way here.
Who cares about struggling with deep fried cow ear when you can feast on tasty pizza anyway?
You even get to optimize your makeup and not smear it with tableware.
Aso-ebi or not, have something light before the party- you don’t want to be the ‘hungry slayer’ at the wedding party that provides fodder for the gossip of other guests.