Thursday, February 23, 2006

Your help please - my essay on the Agbada

Some readers of my blog have found my work-in-progress essay on the agbada. I would welcome any critical comments people might have. I need to do some more research in advance of delivering it at a conference later in the year. Click here to read.


Keguro 1:13 pm  


just a quick initial comment--based on a quick read. I'll email more extensive comments later, if you desire. I'm assuming you'll have slides or photographs? Please do. They will help translate the rather abstract description into something more material.

Opening paragraph works for me, though feels a bit stiff. You manage a nice balance of the relaxed yet informative on the blog. I wonder if that can be imported into the conference paper (most conference papers sound way too stiff for my taste).

Paragraphs 2-3 overwhelm. Too many new terms, too many geographical regions, too much history to absorb--and I was reading, not listening. Historians will kill me for saying this, since they relish detail, but to make it more hearing-friendly, perhaps you need a broader sweep of history and fewer real names? Of the variety, "various groups in the North and South sport different variations of this garment. They associate it with . . ." You can be more specific during discussion time, or should you later publish the piece.

The lit critic in me would like to see the poem come earlier, perhaps even as the opening to the essay? In part, it stimulates interest and opens up to the questions of what is now your first paragraph.

Thanks for sharing this!

Jeremy 1:30 pm  

Thanks Keguro. It's so difficult striking a balance between readabiliy and academic rigour. Yes there will be images a-plenty. I'll post one up in a moment so people get the gist.

Anonymous,  3:48 pm  

But Jeremy, what of the p***y? Will there be pictures?

Are you really gonna stand in front of a load of Nigerian guys and say their agbada looks like female genitalia. The implication being that what is inside must be a phallus?

Abeg make I come watch-o!

More seriously (although personal safety is quite serious!) I really enjoyed the UI article and was really impressed with the pacing. It was like Hitchcock. For me personally the subject matter and ideas are nothing new but as an observation and piece of prose I thought it very good. But with both papers you are on a hiding to nothing. People don't want to hear it unless you are very very selective of your audience! Look what an ice cream caused in the UK and a cartoon in Denmark - careful mate!

The Agbda article I didn't so much as read because after the first couple of interesting paragraphs it became boring/tedious so I just skimmed through and saw references to femininity and masculinity and pink. Compared to the UI text - not interesting.

But I will still come and watch because e go be fun!

Devil's Advocate

Anonymous,  4:49 pm  

Just had another read/scan through and realised that I actually read most of it last time.

Does this mean that Bush and Blair can't be as bad as Obj because they don't wear Agbada? I am sure it is more to do with what they can get away with than what they wear. If the system allowed them to do more evil I think they would, but haven't they done enough already? And wearing an western suit!

The system in Nigeria is messed up pretty well from top to bottom and that is partly how they get away with it. Maybe that's why the UK is having problems with obviously corrupt politicians like Blair. More tax dodgers, more welfare rip-offs - why would they blow the whistle? I will cogitate a while on this...

In terms of the presentation Keguro is on the nail.

Devil's Advocate

Styl Council 6:33 pm  

hi in the process of readiing your agbada peice now., i would like to take my time as you know this is a subject that's very consumes my interest...I will update you within the next couple of days. But here's my first impression as a starter for 10!...

a)The agbada is an everyday garmet. Synonymouse with the weatern use of the jacket and the less commonly used waistcoat. Thus it can be dressed up or down depending on the occcasion.
At best it denotes a sence of confidence and authority not necessarily power! It can be translated to a garment of the poor or the rich... like the 3piece suit, some do and some don't, but most men do when its a special occasion; ie wedding!
b) In my opininon the most notable change on the usage of this garment in the last 20 years is the size of the sewn agbada not the actual garment itself. There are pictures of the small agbada which were worn by farmers and perhaps the less well-off! The size of course is in relation to the cost of the fabric as the adgada garments can consume something like 6yrds of fabric when the full 3 peice "complete" male ensamble requires 10yrds of fabric!

c) as with point#B, the heirachicial element of this garment, although cannot be denied, has very little importance with regards to the origination of the garment.

More later....But what a great topic...i wish i coould be there to take part!

Jeremy 11:41 am  

thanks for your comments people (keguro, DA, Sisi-Oge - please keep them coming in..) DA: no, there will not be any p***y pictures!! Although maybe an anatomical picture side by side with an agbada might work...

Anonymous,  8:57 am  

Sisi Oge, Agbada is not just an everyday wear. A suit or Kilt is never just an everyday wear - they are and more than that.

You contradict yourself on several occassions:

You said agbada "at best [it] denotes a sence of confidence and authority not necessarily power!" you said not NECESSARILY about power. So you agree that it can be apart power then? And if you agree, then you necessarily agree with Jeremy that it is about power, but you qualify by saying it is also about confidence and authority. Could there be authority without power? Power without authority? Something is amiss here.

"It can be translated to a garment of the poor or the rich... like the 3piece suit, some do and some don't, but most men do when its a special occasion" Ah, Sisi Oge, when a rich and poor man wear a suit, are there noticable difference between the suit of a poor man and a rich men? What is the whole tradition of the English gents and Saville Row Tailoring all about if not about wealth, authority, power, supereme confidence? A poor man in a suit immediately belies their status. The suit tells U their positioning. Similarly, jeremy is inviting us to think about the Agbada as more than just an everyday garment - it is and it is more than that.

"In my opininon the most notable change on the usage of this garment in the last 20 years is the size of the sewn agbada not the actual garment itself."

your statement above actually butteress Jeremy's statement rather than diminish it. In the last 20years, the volume of the Agabada has increased. the question you should consider Sisi Oge is this: Does this increase in volume correspond to the Shagari era and the height of Nigeria's wealth or not? If so then Jeremy is right in his analysis of the Agabada. If an Agabada can consume up to 10yds, surely to possess at least one, is to attempt at acquiring status or move towards it.

"the heirachicial element of this garment, although cannot be denied, has very little importance with regards to the origination of the garment." This is an incoherent statement. I hope when you develop your argument you will make it clearer.

I think the poem should come at the beginning.

Anyway, for what it is worth Jeremy, Pls think about developing this essay and submit it for publication in African Identities of which I am on the editorial board. I believe that you have published something there before - your excellent critique of Membe is spot on. This is the kind of stuff we are always looking for in the journal. And it is unfortunate that most of the scholarly work on the minuate of African existence are done by Euros. Check out JFriedman's work on Sapuers and Hudita Nura Mustafa' excellent collection 'the Art of African Fashion'. keep up the good work.

Jeremy, bringing an academic text into a wider audience is an excellent idea. It means that you can incorporate their feed back into the finish product. But at the same time, you must remember that people non-academic reader might not see with the eyes you might see and therefore you will receive a lot of unwarranted criticism. This is part of it.

So consider submitting to African Identities or the even more prestigious Fashion Theory.


Jeremy 3:10 pm  

thanks for your comment Obi. I was already planning on submitting a more developed version to AI - was in touch with Abebe before about this..

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