Adire, the pride of Egbaland, slowly fades away

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Adire stands as a symbol of cultural pride for Egbaland in Ogun State, reflecting its rich cultural heritage.

In the early twentieth century, an indigo-dyed cloth adorned with resist patterns earned the Yoruba name Adire, meaning “tie and dye” in English.

The authentic Adire fabric was painstakingly crafted using teru (local white clothing) and elu (local dye), derived from elu leaves cultivated in the Saki region of Oyo State.

Its origins trace back to Jojola’s compound in Kemta, Abeokuta, where Chief Mrs. Miniya Jojolola Soetan, the second Iyalode (Head of Women) of Egbaland, pioneered its production. She passed down the techniques to her descendants, who, in turn, continued the tradition for generations.


Adire, one of the most sought-after exports from Abeokuta, attracts hordes of traders and tourists daily. They come to support the female entrepreneurs, learn from their expertise, and marvel at the intricate craftsmanship.

Regrettably, this rich cultural heritage is slowly slipping from the grasp of the Egbas into the hands of the Chinese.

Chinese-made imitation Adire fabrics are steadily eroding the livelihoods of Adire producers.

The Original Indigenous Adire

OgunWatch reports that the Chinese meticulously replicate these local designs, produce them overseas, and reintroduce the finished products into the local market.

An anonymous trader in the renowned Adire market in Abeokuta disclosed that these Chinese-made fabrics possess a glossy nylon texture, with both the Chinese and authentic versions available for sale.

“The Chinese material isn’t guinea or silk; it’s a nylon fabric, albeit durable compared to the chemically treated original Adire. The longevity depends on the manufacturer. I sell both, with the Chinese variant priced at three thousand Naira, while the authentic Adire ranges from ten thousand to fifteen thousand Naira and upwards,” she added.

Another trader, Mojisola Salami, explained that both types of Adire are available in the market, but Chinese-made Adire sells rapidly due to cost-conscious consumers.

“There are two types of Adire – original and Chinese-made, both readily available in the market. Ironically, we often stock more of the Chinese-made due to high demand, driven by economic challenges in the country,” she noted.


Interviews with Abeokuta residents wearing Chinese-made Adire revealed that some are unaware of the distinctions, while others opt for affordability.

A businessman, Mr. Micheal, reasoned that the authentic Adire’s cost drives consumers toward the Chinese alternative.

“The indigenous Adire material is expensive, as it’s made from pure guinea brought from the northern part of the country, whereas China’s Adire is imported from Asian countries, primarily China, Japan, and Korea. It’s of lesser quality but more affordable, making it an attractive option for Adire enthusiasts,” he explained.

The process where chemicals are added

“If they can reduce the cost of the original Adire, more people might prefer it. For instance, I bought this for five thousand Naira (#5,000), whereas the indigenous one costs ten to fifteen thousand Naira (10 to #15,000). That amount can buy three pairs of the Chinese version, which comes in five yards. Considering large families, the price becomes a significant factor,” he added.

Meanwhile, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, the Alake and paramount ruler of Egba land, expressed his concerns in an interview with Ogunwatch.

“Adire is our pride in Egba land, and now we have cheaper Chinese Adire. Recently, Adire traders, who are the designers, visited this palace in large numbers. I urged them to investigate the origin of the Chinese Adire, but they couldn’t provide a definitive source.

China made Adire

Some suggest a company in the free trade zone in Lagos is producing it, while others suspect it’s smuggled in from elsewhere. If it’s indeed smuggled, we’ll involve customs to crack down on these products, discouraging the purchase of cheap yet colorful materials,” he asserted.

Indigenous Adire

Regarding the material itself, he commented, “There’s less cotton in the Chinese Adire, making it less comfortable to wear, but its vibrant colors are a highlight.”

Nevertheless, some stakeholders believe that many end-users cannot distinguish between Chinese and indigenous Adire. They advocate for educational initiatives to dissuade people from purchasing Chinese clothing.

To confront this threat, participants in the Adire industry should vigorously oppose the importation of Chinese-made fabrics. Eliminating these products from the market will leave consumers with no choice but to embrace local, authentic Adire fabrics.

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