Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Textiles and Politics: Textile Society of America 13th Biennial Symposium Proceedings, Washington, DC, September 18- September 22, 2012.


Copyright 2012 by the author(s).


The indigenous political structure among the Yoruba is pyramidal with the traditional, divine, paramount ruler at the peak. Though the attainment of this apogee is monarchical and hereditary among this tribe, textile is used as a distinguishing factor for those on different rungs of this political ladder, with the overall ruler traditionally expected to be the wealthiest and most elaborately dressed. The success of any ruler's reign is not only measured by how peaceful his reign was, but also by how comfortable his subjects were under his rule. Next to food, their comfortability is gauged by the number and quality of cloths they could afford. For instance, historical accounts of royal pomp and pageantry among the Yoruba are replete with accounts of how some notable rulers used textiles in asserting their political influence and economic affluence. Textile therefore has always been a veritable tool in manifesting the unique status of Yoruba rulers. With exposure to foreign political cultures, particularly from the West, democratic form of politics, which requires political campaign and propaganda to win the electorates votes, has been adopted by Nigerians. And textiles have become the strongest tool of campaign propaganda used in convincing the electorates of the leadership capabilities of candidates. This paper looks at the significance of textile as an indispensable, ubiquitous tool of Nigerian political campaigns. It traces the origin of its usage, the party symbols and their meaning in the people's world view, and the economic impact of these textiles on the producers and the larger society.