The Fabric of Friendship: Aso· Ebì and the Moral Economy of Amity in Nigeria

The Fabric of Friendship: Aso· Ebì and the Moral Economy of Amity in Nigeria

Author: 
Nwafora, Okechukwu
Publisher: 
Taylor & Francis
Date published: 
2013
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
African Studies
Source: 
African Studies, Vol. 72, No. 1, April 2013, pp. 1-18
Abstract: 

In this article, I seek to problematize prevailing views of what is known as aso. ebì in Nigeria, which places emphasis on solidarity and conviviality. In its most common import, aso. ebì refers to uniformed solidarity dressing worn by friends and family members to distinguish themselves from the rest during important social events such as weddings, street parties, birthday parties, among others. Aso· ebì is both well-known among the Yoruba and other groups in Nigeria and even beyond, but has received little of the interpretive scrutiny that it deserves in academic scholarship. This article reveals both the prescription and limitations of the moral economy in which aso. ebì is produced and consumed. The article shows that aso. ebì serves as a specific social currency that mediates two contradictory logics of gift-giving and commodification. By challenging the moral economy of intimacy, I demonstrate how aso. ebì is ‘offered’ by celebrants ‘for sale’ as a gesture of friendship and imminent commensality, yet the costs of refusal to buy the aso. ebì removes the guests altogether from the cycle of counter-gifts/payments. By employing Herbert Blumer's theoretical model of espirit de corps, and Marcel Mauss' logic of the gifts, I engage the discourse of solidarity and gift-giving in aso. ebì practice.

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CITATION: Nwafora, Okechukwu. The Fabric of Friendship: Aso· Ebì and the Moral Economy of Amity in Nigeria . : Taylor & Francis , 2013. African Studies, Vol. 72, No. 1, April 2013, pp. 1-18 - Available at: http://library.au.int/fabric-friendship-aso·-ebì-and-moral-economy-amity-nigeria-3