My mum had a quick business trip to do in Abeokuta. She runs a ready-to-wear clothing and apparel brand called La Mariposa focused on using locally sourced fabric. She recently added a line of some fantastic table runners; so we needed some Adire to prep for an order.
Adire is locally-made tie and dye textile made in southwestern Nigeria and typically Yoruba women. It is significant because through it's trade, it boosted the artistic and entrepreneurial efforts of the women who made it and became a major local craft in Abeokuta and Ibadan and has attracted buyers from all over West Africa and the world.
We drove to Abeokuta bright and early and followed the instructions of an "Iya Jubril" that Mr Christopher, our automobile pilot had been talking to. With a little help from google maps, we were able to find the Itoku market, a few minutes from Olumo Rock. We were easily able to locate Iya Jubril's store and we made our way into the walls of patterns and colours.
Negotiations were nice to witness. Playful, witty, fair and very informative; watching women do business is a very refreshing experience - i highly recommend. We picked up what we needed and we asked her if we could go to the factory and see how the Adire fabrics are made. It wasn't a problem, and after a quick phone-call, it was organised. They don't typically let anyone see their manufacturing processes because people are known for stealing designs and trade secrets without crediting them.
We were led into the Itoku community and were introduced to Azizat, a tie and dye artist who has inherited the ancient art from her mother, and we started our crash course in making Adire!
Step 1: They use twine to tie interesting patterns on the chosen fabric tightly and this resists the dye.
Step 2: A solution of dye colour, sulphite, soda and boiling water is prepped.
Step 3: Soak the fabric in the solution until the colours are absorbed and patterns are formed.
Step 4: Cut the twine and wash the excess dye off with cold water, then unravel your fabric to reveal the patterns.
It's summarised because the fine details are top secret. Everyone in the community was warm and friendly and they made us feel very welcome. We had so many questions and they eagerly answered them and once again I was reminded that I need to get better at speaking local languages.
After we were filled with knowledge, we said our goodbyes and soon started made our way back to Ibadan and as we drove, I was filled with an almost ethereal sense of connecting with the intricate weaves of what it meant to be a southwestern Nigerian.
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