Nobody denies the fact that Ethiopia possesses a range of traditional clothes worn by all Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia on various occasions. Ethiopians put on various traditional clothes at some stage in religious holidays, wedding ceremonies, birthday parties, graduations, memorial parties, funeral processions and so forth.
Most people across Ethiopia go to an assortment of market places with the intention of buying traditional clothes for the most part during religious holidays such as Ethiopian New Year, Eastern holiday, Christmas, Epiphany,the Finding of True Cross and what not. More often than not, most Ethiopians adore themselves head to foot in attention-grabbing traditional clothes from time to time.
This writer headed straight to Sholla Market with the purpose of figuring out what the traditional clothes market at some point in the Eastern holiday like. The left, right and center of the market were bedecked with different goods used as an input for giving color for the holiday. The market was thronged by quite a lot of people from various corners of Addis Ababa.
During my stay in the market, I stumbled upon Rahel Feleke who was going to try traditional clothes on in a certain shop found in the heart of Sholla Market. I approached to have her feelings, ideas and thoughts regarding the various Ethiopian traditional clothes worn on different occasions.
“I have a weakness for traditional clothes. More often than not, I buy dresses for my daughters and myself from Shiro Meda and Sholla Market. We all are keen on wearing traditional clothes during religious holidays. To be honest, I purchase traditional dresses for my children once or twice a year particularly during Ethiopian New Year and Eastern. Above and beyond, my daughters are crazy about wearing Ethiopian traditional clothes over and over again. By the same token, whenever we visit our near and distant relatives mainly during religious holidays, we put on traditional clothes. In terms of beauty, the traditional clothes are turning out to be attention grabbing at the present time,” she said.
“Some time ago, there were no many people who wear Ethiopian traditional clothes. Nowadays, the traditional clothes are growing to be the number one choice for most Ethiopians irrespective of age and sex. At some stage in the celebration of Ethiopian Nations, Nationalities and People’s day, most students would like to wear Ethiopian Traditional clothes given that they are proud of their cultures,” she added.
This writer as well came across Almaz around traditional clothes shop and posed the same question.
“The traditional clothes cost an arm and a leg. Today, I came here with the purpose of buying traditional clothes but as a result of the sky-rocketing price I am going to change my mind. Although, quite a lot of attention-grabbing clothes are available in various shapes and forms in Sholla Market, they are beyond my capacity. But as you can see, people are busy buying traditional clothes for the love of celebrating Eastern. Unless, I put on traditional clothes, I will not feel top of the world. Come what may, I need to wear a new one in the course of the Eastern and other religious holidays. In terms of design, our traditional clothes are different from what we had in the past,” said Almaz.
“I love traditional clothes with all my heart. At this instant, our traditional clothes are turning out to be the choice of most women living in most part of the country. Furthermore, they are being worn by some people living in various parts of the world. This is really a good achievement as our traditional clothes are representation of our identities and cultures. To the best of my knowledge, our traditional clothes should be worn day after day,” she highlighted.
On the morrow this writer headed to Shiro Meda Market for the same purpose. The area was decorated with a range of street vendors who put on the market traditional clothes. As they do not pay tax for the government, they put up for sale with reasonable price. When different religious holidays’ approach, several vendors are seen in the area for the sake of selling traditional clothes. It sometimes encumbers to go from place to place. However, people do not rub their eyes to buy clothes from them considering the fairness of the price. Hence, business persons who put on the market traditional clothes will not grow to be beneficial.
Some people buy traditional clothes from officially authorized sellers as most street vendors put up for sale Netella, flat homemade clothes of cotton.
There were lots of people sitting together around Shiro Meda. They were busy embroidering traditional clothes. They were not interested to talk to anyone. They were not in the position to lend their ears to anyone. All of them were singing songs concentrating on their works. They did not want to be interrupted as they were making an effort to make money in a short time. Most of the clothes shops in the area have been labeled with different numbers and names.
In due course, the writer headed to a certain shop found in the area. This time, he posed a question to Kidist, one of the buyers hunting for clothes around Shiro Meda.
“I am here to buy traditional clothes for my wedding ceremony. Unfortunately, the price is expensive in consequence of the quality and design level of our traditional clothes. If truth be told, there are traditional clothes , sold around the area at a bargain price. As I do not want my wedding clothes for temporary purposes, I am not interested to buy unoriginal ones. I do need my wedding clothes for lifelong memory. Moreover, I do not want to have something which would not add value in my life. The embroideries of traditional clothes, vended on the street, are not original ones and thus I am not interested to buy them for the benefit of saving money,” she said.
She went on to say, the traditional clothes are all thin and durable. On account of the abovementioned reasons and other related aspects, I am not interested to pay money for them. Sadly, most people buy traditional clothes from street vendors considering the fairness of the price. As far as I’m concerned, the government should stand on the side of those who sell original traditional clothes. A lot should be done in terms of producing business persons, who give due weight and attention to original traditional clothes.
The Shiro Meda area was busy. People from different corners of Addis Ababa and its environs and other areas were constantly coming to the area. But currently, the area is not as busy as it was before. Business was not as usual in the area.
When I was at a loss what to do, I headed straight to a certain traditional clothes shop with a view to figuring out the reason behind.
“Traditional clothes shops are opened in every nook and cranny of the capital. What is more, Some countries have got itself involved in the business coming machines. Our traditional clothes are handmade while theirs is machine made. In terms of quality, Ethiopian traditional clothes prove unparalleled. I would say, this reality on the ground has distanced our customers from the area given that they can find different cloths reasonably, said Afework an owner of a shop.
According to Afework, the least price of traditional clothes around Shiro Meda is 500 Birr while the biggest price is 4000 Birr. I have the nerve to say, the price of our traditional clothes are expensive as the quality level of our fabric, thread and other inputs cost an arm and a leg. Moreover, organizations that provide inputs are limited in number. It is as well difficult to find inputs when the need arises. The government should make the business in the area attractive by raising awareness concerning the tight spot. Quality and price are different things. People should be able to understand the uniqueness of Ethiopian original traditional clothes.
“The original ones which attract the attention of everyone could be remade in any shape and form whatever happenes. More to the point, they are durable and long-lasting. Above all, everyone should give priority to quality. We should be able to give priority to our cultures and assets,” he concluded.
BY ADDISALEM MULAT