Most Yoruba males complete their looks – most looks – with Fila – Tola Adenle


Oba Adenle sat for this portrait in which he wears an Abeti Aja fila style sewn from damask fabrics although he had the sanyan fila of the same aso oke.  Yoruba older men sometimes complete their outfits this way by mixing and matching the Yoruba fabrics with imported ones as fila.  

The Abeti Aja – “like the flaps of dogs’ ears” is, surprisingly, very popular among young men these days.

Ulli Beier & Ataoja Adenle

Oba Adenle’s gobi style fila which is perhaps the most common style is upturned and faces the front rather than the usual down-turned left or right side-facing style.

[Photo from Late Ulli Beier to Blogger, 2010.]

In this 1967 photograph taken by Depo Adenle, Oba Adenle’s apparent love for the Abeti Aja shows!  The fila here is made from the same aso oke fabric as the outfit.

The Yoruba Drums and Drummers

At work in above photograph, the most popular Yoruba fila style can also be seen, the gobi.  For example, when retired General Obasanjo became a civilian president in 1999, the style was dubbed “power shift”, a playful allusion to the presidency moving to the Southwest.  Men’s f ila took on playful political undertone:  if it was turned “eastwards”, it was “power-shifts to the East” and if “westwards”, it was “power-shifts to the West”. Whichever way, many people wore their fila in the gobi style.

[Above picture by Biodun Ogunmola, December 2004.]


Above two photographs were at the public presentation of S.A. Adenle I, Ataoja of Osogbo, Portrait of a Yoruba Oba at the Premier Hotel, Ibadan on October 23, 2006.

In the first photo, Kabiyesi’s Egbe Ero Mimo, society to which he belonged at the All Saints’ Anglican Cathedral, Osogbo renders the society Hymn while below, drummers for his successor, Kabiyesi Oba Oyewole Matanmi who was present at the occasion, entertain the attendees.

In both photographs, ALL men wear their fila Gobi style.  Kabiyesi’s Egbe Ero Mimo wear their Aso Ebi colors with the exception of High Chief Popo Balogun, Otun Ajagunna of Osogbo on the left; he joined others to honor the memory of Late Oba Adenle.


Dr. Adenle ALWAYS wears gobi style.  Some, as the one in this picture, are sewn in the style that has the bottom part embroidered by hand just as for the agbada while for others, he has them just simple hand-STITCHED with what was known in sewing classes of old as “running stitches” – three or four rows at the bottom.

Photograph:  Julius, Ibadan, 2003.

This young groom likes the old way, wearing the standard gobi style.

The mix-and-match design of the couple’s aso oke weaves is very beautiful: two dominant colors pay homage to the Sanyan heritage with a thin barely-there dark hue between the whites.

Abeti aja

And another groom, but here in the old-fashioned abeti aja.  This was a fila style young men of my generation did not take to, but it’s now the rage at Yoruba traditional engagement ceremonies where MOST young men spot the style.

Weavers now turn out what are called T’oko, T’aya aso oke which are often unified by colors but not by patterns.  Note, though, that the fila for the young men are always made from the ladies fabrics.


I think Our Guy in America is spotting gobi here but who knows, and what does it matter!  It may even be the “Lagos look” which is sewn to just sit on the head and therefore requires no expertise. The important point is that the couple looks radiant in their outfits made from imported fabrics.


And the REAL “Father of the Day”, the bride’s father wears – what else – but gobi style fila – as he displays The Proposal Letter (although this particular letter is done the American way – BIG!  He must be dancing to the usual song about his family having received a joyful letter that they pray, not even the devil, can destroy!

A ti gba leta ayo/ a ti gba leta ayo/ a ti gba leta ayo/ Esu ko ni fa leta wa ya!


While the bride’s mother dances with the husband, I’m sure Our Lady in Yellow imported fabric gele and iborun must be the Alaga Ijoko (bride’s family spokesperson.  To know about this character in Yoruba engagement ceremony if you do not, please check out:

The Lagos Cap

I call it the Lagos Cap because it was there I first saw it several years ago.  Just sit it on the head, no bending, no turning, and off you go!

Below Our Lagos Guy in Alaari is the standard – or may be I should now say classic gobi – style sewn from Alaari.


ALL the men in the last and three following photographs wear Alaari fila or complete – including the little boy wearing a modern & cheaper take of the classic Alaari, I should mention what may not be a surprising information to viewers familiar with statistics shown from time to time on this blog:  the Alaari IS the most popular of the three classics – going by readership of this blog, ESPECIALLY the Ondo variety.  In fact, until I started posting the series on “Yoruba Engagement Aso Oke” which came much later than the classics, it had the most viewership.

Personally, my favorite is the indigo/black Etu which is supposed to be second in line to Sanyan.  I’m sure every aso oke-wearer has his/her favorite!

The Males in the photographs AND the one wearing Sanyan ALL have their fila worn in gobi style.

Based on the random samples contained in this short essay, and buttressed by what I’ve always noticed around Yorubaland, I believe we can conclude that the gobi style of fila for men is the most popular!

Naming Ceremony 2

Above, Baby’s Naming, Maryland, USA, 1999; – And below – everybody spots the gobi style, including the toddler on whom the style looks particularly attractive.  Same baby (above & below).

all aboard[Photoraph: 2004.]

bra ladi

Lagos’ governor, Babatunde Fasola, seems to concur on my rating of the gobi style as the numero uno fila; so does the guy in the above picture!

Governor Fashola of Lagos wearing fila alaari



Way back in 1970, Gobi style on Depo Adenle

Young Couple in a little corner at a partyGubi stands out

A young couple finds a quiet corner at an Ibadan party, 2001; gobi on guy stands out!

HS graduands_NEW

Blogger, Left, spotting an aso oke Iborun with her Western outfit, joins a parent, her son & a friend at the High School graduation of the University of Ibadan International School, 1998.  The kids top their modern male outfits with equally-modern fila.

gubi on Mak

What better way to get into pre-wedding mode than kidding around in this May 1998 photograph of blogger’s friend and her kids – and blogger’s – at Ibadan, Nigeria!  As nobody can notice my UN-Las Vegas NCAA basketball championship Tee from 1990, I’m announcing it, but none can miss Mak’s purple fila rakishly donned in – how else – gobi style!  It was his – and the sister’s – first visit to Nigeria, and on seeing the ubiquitous fila style everywhere in Ibadan, Yorubaland’s capital, he got himself one and started wearing it around.  I think he looks terrific!

AND, FINALLY, The Awo Cap:

Egin at osogbo

Sitting 2nd Left is Chief Nate Makinde now of blessed memory.

This 1955 photograph was given to blogger and Significant Other by Mr. Nats Makinde for the biography, Samuel Adenle I, Ataoja of Osogbo:  Portrait of a Yoruba Oba” which they co-authored.  These were an Egin [Ondo Town indigenes] association at Osogbo of the period.

Of the twelve men in the photograph, two are bare-headed, a lone guy wears the gobi style while the remaining 75 percent said “yes” to the Awo Cap!  It was taken to mark the “15th anniversity of the Ondo District Union on November 20, 1955.”

Nate Makinde was the pre-eminent photographer at Osogbo of the era; he was also the representative who covered local news in and around Osogbo for The Post.  He was a meticulous record-keeper and had loads of old Almanacs, always my favorites, and he gave me an OGO OLUWA ALMANAC 1959 with luminaries, incl. the Alake Oba Ademola (in the center) around whom were Awo, Tafawa Balewa, Justice Udo Udoma, Chief Enahoro … AND also the 1957 Action Group Almanac [See Below].  All were used for the biography of Oba Adenle.

worn here by his recently-departed Son, Chief Oluwole

And, on the Original:


[Photograph of Awo.  Gift from Nat Makinde, 2006.]

Most of us who grew up in the 50s and 60s remember seeing Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo always wearing the abbreviated Fez cap, and with his legacy of visionary leadership, service to the masses and forward-looking planning, all shades of politicians in Southwestern Nigeria’s Yorubaland, including dyed-in-the-wool reactionaries and known looters, now wear the Awo Cap.  They must feel, if the cloth makes the monk, people will buy my “Awoist” claim when they check out my cap; we say, I say – not so fast!

Action Group Almanac 1957_NEW

All pictures on Awo Cap (minus his son’s) are from the biography of Oba Adenle.  The man at the top right wearing abeti aja Fila is Chief S. Ladoke Akintola.

Postscript:  I’m still looking for fila ode – a hunter’s cap.  It resembles a little the gobi but there is surplus pouch-y and long end that is bent as if it can hold something!

2.  The gobi may not be the name in every area.

TOLA ADENLE, April 20, 2013. 2.37 p.m. GMT

UPDATE:  I have photographs of fila ode [fee-la aw-de; the ‘e’ in ode is pronounced as the first ‘e’ in “elephant.”

                  Abeti Aja3.jpg                Abeti Aja 2.jpg             Abeti Aja1.jpg              Abeti Aja.jpg

The story on this is long but I’ll attempt to make it short, really short because I understand ladies in universities were not THAT fond of guys in clubs that had the palm wine almost like logo!  That’s what the guy holding the calabash is doing here although it was far away in Chicago and I do not know how they get palms to tap for its juice in the Windy City.

Above is not the order of line-up of the pictures I received but my main interest is the fila ode  although I must confess to enjoying a bit the clowning here.  I’ve therefore re-arranged them in what is the logical sequence as ladies anywhere in the world would likely see the events that unfolded here:

Photograph 1:  The guy wearing the hunter’s cap is being introduced as, perhaps, an inductee.  Photo 2:  He gets to drink the POISON.  3.  Filled with spirits, he tries his hands on drums, and finally as always happens as EVERYBODY believes singing is second nature  and he “sings” aided by the bandana-wearing fellow.

End of stories: the singing that should be confined to bathrooms but more important, the showcasing of fila ode that I did not know would surface so fast!  Thanks, Dele.

April 24, 2013.

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8 Comments on “Most Yoruba males complete their looks – most looks – with Fila – Tola Adenle”

  1. cheekos Says:

    Emotan, thanks very much for sharing your culture. It is only through knowledge that we ca learn about other people, and thereby bridge that which separates us.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. lanre Lawal Says:

    When the gobi cap is bend to the right or left what are they called



    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Mr. Lawal,

      Either the fila is bent to the left or to the right, it is still known as gobi – to the best of my knowledge. Thanks for stopping by.




  3. adenle kehinde Says:

    Am just happy to be a grandson of adenle



  4. deleola Says:

    I was almost going to ask about ‘fila ode’ until I read your postscript. In the 80s when some of us were members of ‘Kegites Club’, we usually don ‘fila ode’ as ‘elemu n-get-on’ and the pouchy end as you described it, rests on our shoulders!
    Most times, your posts on culture brings sweet memories of the past innocent years. Thank you for these committed efforts.



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