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  Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with millions of citizens and numerous ethnic groups spawned across the country. Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa constitute majority of the ethnic groups in Nigeria. These ethnic groups have their unique cultures and traditions and more importantly, their traditional attires which they wear daily and majorly on special occasions. 
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Due to the vast ethnic groups in Nigeria and the distinct but beautiful traditional outfits of the ethnic groups in Nigeria, this article will focus on the traditional outfits worn by the Yorubas. Yorubas can majorly be found in the South Western part of Nigeria in states like Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun. The Yoruba people speak Yoruba language and have various dialects of the same language. The traditional outfits worn by the Yorubas have been in existence for as long as the Yoruba people existed. The styles to be discussed are not just worn by them, they are also responsible for the fabric production and the style creation. The styles are:
  1. Agbada
Agbada is the Yoruba name for a type of flowing wide sleeved robe, usually decorated with embroidery at the neckline. The attire is mostly worn by men of importance and it is used for special ceremonial activities. It usually consists of an inner outfit and then an outer flowing robe. The style is known for its flamboyance. The style is not usually worn for day to day activities, because it has an exaggerated sleeve that has to be adjusted from time to time for it to stay on the shoulder. In our contemporary society, women wear Agbada alongside their male counterparts. Over the years, the style has managed to remain one of the classy Yoruba outfits of all time.
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  1. Gele

Gele is another Yoruba outfit. Gele is a Yoruba word that means headgear. It is usually wrapped around the head in a creative and somewhat dramatic style. The style is for women who usually tie scarves on their hair to compliment their overall fashion aesthetic. Gele is usually made from Aso Oke, a Yoruba traditional fabric known for its quality. Depending on the occasion and the wearer’s creativity, the gele can be tied in various ways to suit the overall outfit and occasion. Though Gele is for females, we have seen men tie it. A recent example is the Gele tied by Segun Adebayo, popularly known as Segun Wealth to Iyabo Ojo’s mother burial.  Will Gele be incorporated as men fashion statement? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
  1. Iro and Buba

Iro means wrapper while Buba is an oversize top. Iro and Buba work parri-passu, they are usually worn together.  Iro is tied around the waist and sometimes it comes with a tiny robe around the waist to secure the wrapper waistline and if it doesn’t, after tying the wrapper round your waist, you have to tuck the extra fabric in your waist. The Iro is very easy to sew. All that is needed to be done is to sew the ends of the fabric to prevent it from fraying or loosing. 
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Buba is an oversize top. It is worn from the head like most female tops. Buba has a puffy sleeve and it doesn’t have zipper.  Iro and Buba are worn by women, though, many a time, women wear only the Iro at home. Iro and Buba can be worn daily or for special events. The outfits mentioned above are very common among the Yoruba people. Though some ethnic groups use the styles, it is more suited to fit their culture. Nigeria is no doubt very vast and rich in culture. References Wikipedia Instagram Featured Image source:
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This article was first published on 25th April 2022


My name is Agbagba Bukola. I write about the business and exciting world of fashion.

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