Aso Ebi – A Lesson on Identity


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The word “ASO EBI” pronounced “ASHO EYBEE” is a very popular word in Nigeria. According to Wikipedia, “the word aso in Yoruba means cloth and ebi denotes family. So, aso ebi literally means a ‘family cloth’ usually worn during weddings, funerals or other family ceremonies. Wearing a certain aso ebi identifies the group of wearers. Usually the aso ebi is chosen by the host and then announced to all the guests months in advance so they can prepare their outfits.

Wedding Celebrations

I remember going for a friend’s wedding sometime in July. I had been invited about 3 months earlier. A WhatsApp group was created for friends to contribute funds to plan the bridal shower. We were all very happy to be a part of it. However, my phone crashed a month to the wedding day. Heart-breaking…

After a few weeks, I got a new phone, and as usual I mysteriously left all my WhatsApp groups! Folake left. If you’ve lost a phone and inserted your sim card into a new phone before, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

The girls got on my case. Why would Folake leave the group? What does that one mean now? They assumed, not knowing I’d not been there all the while. The issue was immediately addressed when I got added back to the group. I apologised and sent my contribution for the bridal shower. Case closed, abi?

The bridal shower was so amazingly dreamy, fairytale-like! The theme was royalty, and we all came slaying. No dulling oh. We all looked like the princesses we truly were. All was good and fine, until I heard those words…

Bisi walked up to me, and gave me her infamous bear-hug. My darling. I’ve missed you o jare! The next words I heard were nerve-wrecking: Sorry about your phone. Ehn! I hope say you don buy your aso ebi, because e don finish oh. Ah! Egba mi o!

and about 80 ushers to ensure order. My friend had kindly reserved a table for all her friends with a very simple advise: your aso ebi is your ticket! And I know this my friend very well. Na small thing dey make am vex. I could already hear her voice in my head. So Folake, you didn’t buy my aso ebi abi? See me, see problem oh!

Wedding Bells Ring

The day of the wedding finally came. All the slay kings and queens did not fail to do what they do best #pepperdemgang lol. You know now? Well, I wasn’t having a very good day. I literally had to fight my way into the reception venue simply because I did not have the right attire. The guards could not identify me. The ushers didn’t know where to put me.  I explained myself so much that day eh. Me sef I tire. When I gave up on English, I had to start calling people up and down to help me. At the end of the day, I didn’t even want to take pictures with the rest of my friends because I literally felt like I’d ruin the picture. It felt so bad… Sha, I learned a very useful lesson that day.

Like a uniform, aso ebi identifies you as a part of something, a part of a family. People won’t need to ask you unnecessary questions when they see your aso ebi. They can immediately tell which group you belong to just by looking at you. So also as believers we have our own aso ebi.

Valuable Lesson Learnt

But what is our aso ebi? How can people tell that we belong to Christ?

Hear what Jesus said in John 13:35:

“This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other” (MSG).

In Christ, the love we have for each other and for all people, whether they believe as we do or not is the proof that we belong to the family of God. When you show kindness, humility, gentleness, when you are patient with difficult people, they can immediately tell that you are unique, that there’s something different about you.

So today, I encourage to wear the right uniform my dear friends. Nor dey misrepresent us abeg. Because in the family of God, LOVE is our ASO EBI!

Grace and Peace.

Faith, Lifestyle, Nigeria

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Sarah Okoye

Sarah is the Social Media Manager at CBN Nigeria in Abuja. She is passionate about expressing God's love to others through blogging and music. She's also pursuing a career in Digital Media Strategy.