The anklet, also called ankle chain, ankle bracelet, ankle string, and leg chain mostly worn by women continues to be the most controversial fashion piece in Nigeria.
The most acceptable English name is anklet, while leg chain in a layman’s language of the accessory.
Wearing anklets did not just start in our century; it has been with us for a long time. It is indeed a tradition, and whether we like it or not, some practice stays with us, either good or not.
Anklets have been in existence since ancient times. It was believed, from research, that older women in Africa and Egypt wore these anklets to show beauty, status, charm, and originality in India.
Over the years, anklets have been trending among young and older women worldwide, which are now seen as a fashion trend. The use of these anklets among women has become the most controversial fashion in Nigeria, coupled with the nose ring and waist beads.
While the anklets may generally be worn as a fashion ornament, tribes and beliefs assign different meanings to the anklets.
Anklets in Hausa are called ‘Sarkan kafa’. In the Hausa culture, a woman is free to put on a leg chain but only under the condition that no man is allowed to see it except her lawfully wedded husband. Her husband alone is the one who’s meant to see the chain and hear it jiggle whenever she walks. In a nutshell, the leg chain in northern Nigeria signifies marriage and adornment for the Hausa culture.
For Igbo culture, the anklet signifies prestige, wealth, and beauty. Their anklets are made of elephant tusks, beads, and brass used in cultural dances, festivals, and other cultural events like coronations and chieftaincy titles.
Lastly, in Yoruba culture, it was worn to signify the symbol and spirit of children. The wearing of the beads is more symbolic than ornamental as it is worn mainly among Chiefs. In one way or another, these are why leg chains are worn by these famous tribes and among women.
Another general misconception that cuts across tribes is that the anklet signifies lesbianism. Some people see it as a way of telling the same gender that you are into them and they can come to you.
However, while it is important to respect people’s traditions and beliefs, it is also important not to judge those who wear the anklets. It’s best to leave people with their choices whether it is the waist beads, nose rings, and leg chains – and think of them as accessories and nothing else. People should be open-minded about these topics, respect women’s choices, and learn not to judge women based on their physical adornment.