THE BINIS & TRADITIONAL ATTIRE “UKPON-O-GHE-KHAMWEN”

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In today’s modern world, people give information about themselves by the clothes they wear and the way they adorn their bodies. An age old saying has it that the way you are dressed is how you will be addressed.

In Africa, body decoration and attire may offer clues to a person’s age, ethnic, region, social position, and even political opinions. As western-style attire become more common in Africa, some traditional types of adornment and dresses are fading  from everyday use, especially in the cities.

However, many Africans still wear traditional clothing and decoration for special occasions or as a form of self-expression some African attires special significance. A man’s social position may be proclaimed by the size and shape of his smock or by the decoration of his robe. Among the Bambara people of Mali, hunters display their skills by wearing white smocks adorned with leather-covered amulets and hunting trophies.

An expert hunter’s shirt may be almost invisible under the horns, claws, and bit of fur or hide the wearer has attached to it. Sometimes a particular pattern of cloth has a name that refers to a proverb, local event, or political issue. People wear these cloths because of the messages communicated by the pattern.

Our story this week is from Edo State, the land of the Binis to be specific. I personal spoke with a couple of Binis wearing this outfit.

There are numerous attire in Bini. The one that caught my attention is the outfit called Ukpon-O-Ghe-Khamwen (Palace chief’s cloth).

In the days of yore, this outfit was exclusively used by the Bini palace chiefs, but nowadays, anybody who has got the confidence can wear it.

In the past, those who used it were the Ekhanmwen who happen to be  members of the council of elders/ministers of Oba of Bini cabinent.

Also, the Enogies who are the relation of the oba of Bini and his representatives in the villages that made up Bini kingdom.

However, this outfit is mostly made from plane white as wellas colored materials. The embroidery is normally designed with what the Bini’s call Ada Vbe Eben which is the Bini Coat of Arm.

Bennard Osarumwense Osifo, a 400 level student of University of Lagos as well as a staff of Custodian and Allied Insurance Plc and a propagator of Bini outfit says it is a statement of style that is good to be worn with beads, which is the ultimate symbol of wealth and honour in Bini kingdom.

To bring out the beauty of this outfit, the bead (Ivie) is very necessary. This outfit is mostly used during festive periods such as popular Bini Igue festival, which takes place annually in Bini kingdom. But today, the Bini man, ever so confident of his ability, now uses it for different occasions.

(BY: BENNARD OSARUMWENSE OSIFO, A 400LEVEL STUDENT OF UNIVERSITY OF LAGOS)

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