Anklets:The Controversial Fashion Jewellery in Nigeria

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Anklets are beads or chains worn around the ankles and have become the most controversial fashion jewellery worn by ladies in Nigeria. Most people in Nigeria have identified ladies who wear them as ‘ashewo’ meaning commercial sex workers or as homosexuals.

Nigeria is  a fashion-forward  country and it’s surprising that some Nigerians have attached such negativity around this jewellery. I remember the days when wearing bum-shorts to the beach looked like an abomination but now, it’s the most fashionable and fairly decent outfit to wear to the beach. Nowadays, if a girl wears that same bum-short on the beach and accessorises with an anklet immediately changes her personality negatively in Nigeria.

So, let’s  find out if these claims about anklets can be strengthened or weakened.

Does Anklets Symbolise A Lady Being Fashionable? Or Does It Really Symbolise What People Say It Is In Nigeria?

In this post, I won’t talk about histories surrounding anklets around the world because that focus is Nigeria. Hence, I will be looking at what different ethnic groups in Nigeria say about ladies who wear anklets.


#The Ibos

The Ibo people of Nigeria wear anklets during cultural dance festivals and other special ceremonies like the chieftaincy ceremonies, etc. These anklets are made with brass or beads. Having spoken to some elderly people from this ethnic group, It has come to my understanding that anklets were worn since the 1920s by every maiden. It was said to be mandatory for young maidens to wear the anklets because it portrayed them as being fashionable. In the later years, they were worn to show social status by the titled men and their wives. In some parts of the Ibo tribe, elephant tusks were used to make anklets and these were worn and still worn by the wealthy people. This implies that a lady wearing an anklet simply shows prestige, beauty and wealth.

#The Yorubas and Hausas

The Yorubas are known for preserving culture and heritage in Nigeria. Going back to the Yoruba cultural roots, what does wearing an anklet really mean?  Bukola Adeyemi stated in her book- Dress in the Making of African Identity that coral anklets were/are worn by the Owo chiefs (both male and female chiefs) as insignia. Also, votaries and worshippers of deities also wear this as insignia of their offices and to signify spirit children. From the Hausas,  some Hausa females wear anklets on the day of their marriage to show femininity and adulthood.

Culturally speaking, wearing anklets does not symbolise a lady’s sexual orientation or a lady being a commercial sex worker. Rather, it symbolises beauty, prestige, wealth, fashion and religious beliefs. Personally, I think this jewellery has been transformed into something lighter and fancier for the fashion girl.

Finally, it is fine to say that anklets are worn by ladies to make a fashion statement except proven otherwise by the wearer. Let’s try as much as possible to disassociate ourselves from unconfirmed notions that may negatively tamper one’s personality.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section! And want to work with me? Start here 🙂

Blog Staff

One thought on “Anklets:The Controversial Fashion Jewellery in Nigeria

  1. Honestly, I don’t understand why a simple piece of jewelry should a meaning behind wearing it. Fashion is fashion 🤷🏽‍♀️

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