By Bamidele Ademola-Olateju
The call came in, “Bamidele”, please is Danshiki not a traditional wear”? Who says it is not? “Ha! Ask me o! We are here at the Island club for their annual October 1st dinner. They specified traditional wear in the invitation card but the guy here said uncle cannot come in”, he said. Dear Lord! Give him the phone, I need to lecture him.
Aftermuch ado, uncle was allowed in. What a country! I fumed! In the course of the evening, I checked constantly with my friends, how the party was going and I was not impressed by what I heard. The problem of the Island club is the problem of Nigeria. Island club’s demography is tilted to those I have labeled the BRIDGE GENERATION. Without apologies, this group are not old enough to be my dad, but old enough to be uncles or senior brothers. They were born between 1949 – 1959. With due respect to the good ones among them, they are well educated, well positioned, rich, but very selfish, hedonistic, self-absorbed and lascivious. They are the ruiners of Nigeria.
Island club is a cosmopolitan social club that was once the club of gentlemen. With gradual erosion of values, ungroomed, suddenly rich, crass, bare-chested morons found themselves in the club. It became a haven and rendezvous for vulgarity. I learnt those who wouldn’t allow a gentleman in Danshiki in, started bring in runs girls with skimpy skirts and barely covered boobs. I learnt the men were loud, chatty and unruly like primary school kids at a carnival when the Governors who were there spoke. At some point Bashorun J. K Randle had to refer to the “glorious” days of the Island club. Even then, the import was lost on them. Yet, these active contributors to our national nightmare, are the ones quick to find fault with the system they helped in creating.
Before I had an epiphany last year, I have always wondered where we lost our way. Something happened and I got the answer I have always sought – many who were taught and raised right, did not pass it on. We are losing it on all fronts. Our children don’t know our culture and cannot fit into the White man’s culture. They are in the wilderness of lost identity and rootlessness.
Danshiki, Esiki, Buba, Sapara in our culture are regarded as àwọ̀tẹ́lẹ̀. While those regarded as àwọ̀lékè are Agbádá, Gbárìyẹ̀, Dàńdógó, Ọ̀yàlà and, Sulia. The àwọ̀tẹ́lẹ̀ or àwọ̀lékè can be worn with Ṣọ́ọ́rọ́, Kẹ̀m̀bẹ̀, Gbáanu or Káamu. The Influential, Sophisticated and Sartorial Ọọ̀ni Adesoji Aderemi was the first man I ever saw who wore Agbada over Danshiki.
It is sacrilegious that Danshiki that is well known all over the world as traditional African wear is unrecognized by a younger Nigerian. What a shame!