Fashion meets politics in Nigerian elections
FARAH SAAFAN and AIDAN LEWIS
TOO stylish for political party T-shirts and caps, some fashionistas in Nigeria are donning the colours and faces of their preferred candidates for a presidential election this month in designer outfits.
Ahead of the February 25 vote, political rallies and campaign events have become catwalks for colourful printed fabrics twisted into elaborate dresses, tunics and headscarves.
For many, it is also an opportunity to wear elegant spins on traditional dress rather than more casual, Western-style clothes most city dwellers use for work and daily life.
Opposition Labour Party (LP) youth leader Kennedy Ahanotu attended an event in Lagos in a white tunic known as a “babban riga”, which means flowing gown in local Hausa.
He wore an LP-emblazoned, green, red and white version of a traditional hat and held a wooden walking stick that is often used as an accessory among Hausa men.
“You can see the stick here which means I am a full Lagosian by virtue of this campaign in Lagos,” said Ahanotu.
At a rally of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party in the capital Abuja, women in dark sunglasses and green head wraps staved off the heat with silky fabric in APC colours mounted into fans.
Fatima Suleiman, a personal assistant to the minister of Nigeria’s federal capital territory, wore a black hat that is part of traditional outfits worn by the Gbagyi ethnic group.
The hat was embroidered with the symbol of a broken shackle Suleiman said represented “Asiwaju”, the Yoruba word for leader that has become the nickname of APC candidate Bola Tinubu.
“This is our official regalia for APC presidential campaign council,” she explained. “That is why I am looking probably this colourful.”