Saturday, January 30, 2016

Igbo Obioma Itinerant Street Tailors in Lagos Are Disappearing Every Day

Igbo Obioma itinerant street tailors in Lagos are disappearing and many Hausas from northern Nigeria are now seen with the traditional Singer 99K sewing machines carried on their shoulders on the streets of Lagos.

During the recce for my "Sights and Sounds of Lagos" tourist documentary series, I met one of the remaining Igbo Obioma tailors in Lagos on December 29, 2015 who said Hausas are taking over their traditional Obioma street tailoring business, because many of them have outgrown the business and the younger generation of Igbos don't find it attractive and lucrative in the fast developing world of the 21st century. But he said the few of them still in the street tailoring business are making more money than the monthly salaries of many graduates with diplomas and degrees. He said a hard working Obioma can make as much as N2, 000 daily from about 30 customers, because there are many poor people with torn clothes to stitch and it is the safest affordable trade that does not require power supply or fuel and they are not harassed by street touts or law enforcement agents who extort money from other self employed professionals like transporters, street traders and others.
The Obioma itinerant street tailors became very popular after the Nigerian civil war in 1970 and "Obioma" which is the Igbo word for kindness or kind heart became a household name especially in Lagos where many of the returnees from the eastern states of the former Republic of Biafra flocked to in search of means of survival. They moved from place to place with the popular Singer 99K sewing machines often used by housewives to stitch torn clothes. Almost everyone living in the lower class and lower middle class homes patronized the Obioma.

~ By Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima

Copyright © 2016 by Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima. International Digital Post Network Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, publisher and copyright owner, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, contact the the author, publisher and copyright owner.

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