Hey beautiful people,
Ileke, as it is called in Yoruba (Nigerian language), has been worn all over Africa since the 15th century. It is called different names and represents something different from many African countries. For example, in Egypt, it’s called a girdle. In African countries, its called the many names such as Mgbaji, jigida, Giri-Giri, Yomba, Jel-Jelli, Bin Bin, Ileke Idi and Djalay Djalay.
Beads in the past didn’t just represent fashion or a form of jewellery. It served other purposes such as social status, political history, and religious beliefs. Unfortunately, beads were also used for the trading of slaves!
However, most recently in West Africa – the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria have made Ileke (waist beads) popular. It is worn as a form of womanhood, fertility, sexuality, femininity, healing, spirituality, body shaping, protection and wealth.
In Ghana, the women wear the beads as ornaments and as symbolic adornment. I remember my Ghanian friend in college telling me she had been wearing her waist bead since she was a baby. The young adults wore beads on their hips during puberty as a sign of feminity. It was also a part of the Ghanaian tradition for a man to buy his bride a set of beads in the form of bracelets, anklets, necklaces, cuffs and waist beads. This was part of her dowry and signified the foundation of her personal wealth.
Many women used the bead as a form of losing weight and shaping their waist. The waist beads are traditionally made with cotton cords. The beads will either get tighter or roll up the waist as one gains weight…. let’s just say you know when it was time to hit the gym!
The waist bead is also worn as a form of seduction, a lot of married women wear it for their husband. Almost like an ‘African Lingerie’ if you get me… Some cultures believe the waist bead protects pregnant women or even provide birth control as it did for their ancestors many years ago.
In modern day, women wear the Ileke for so many reasons, it is individualistic and also a form of personal reflection. It is a form of appreciation of your God-given beauty. The waist beads can be worn by women of all shapes and sizes to adorn themselves. It is made to suit each individual and would typically be worn along the bikini line and not the actual waist.
I just love that I could choose my own colours and design. This time, I spent extra money to get a solid Ileke. I hope you enjoyed this post, I would like to end by raising awareness about the current issue of Slavery in Africa. Please let us continue to raise awareness on this issue. It breaks my heart that this is still happening in our world today, God have mercy!
See you soon