Appearances and Cultural Symbols as Formal Functional Symbols: on the Hermeneutics and Recognition of Yorùbá Dress Code


Oni Peter, Sharomi Abayomi


This paper argues that Yorùbá dress codes (fondly called traditional dress) ought to be symbols of both cultural and formal identity. As part of the being of the Yorùbá, dressing represents more than covering human nakedness, it defines the individual just as it symbolizes different things and moods. Colours, designs and functions all serve as symbols. Unfortunately, within these symbolisms the Yorùbá dresses are not generally welcomed as symbols of formal environments (especially nongovernmental corporate offices). Such outfits at best may be allowed as a dress-down. Formal symbolisms of Yorùbá dresses are restricted to political office holders or government functionaries, beyond which cultural attires are reserved for social functions. In other words, corporate dress codes do not give room for normative or psychological recognition of Yorùbá cultural dressing. Although in recent years Africans have given life to very rich indigenous identities, which have begun to re-affirm the functionality of our arts, yet not many people today have tried to relate these to questions of corporate dressing. It is believed that African cultural symbols are better reflected as traditional symbols. The methods of exposition, hermeneutics, conceptual analysis and critical evaluative reasoning are used in this paper to expose on the one hand Yorùbá dress symbolisms and on the other hand to submit that Yorùbá costumes are as formal as wearing a tie and suit to the office. This lends a voice to the recognition and incorporation of Yorùbá garments (and other African cultural dresses) into general formal symbols.


Cultural Symbols, Formal Symbols, Identity, Recognition, Yorùbá Dress Code




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