Nigerians are innately celebratory. All we need is a reason (or half a reason), time and a venue and turn up we will. We are happy people, perhaps too happy for a country where our children might one day be exchanged as a replacement for the billion dollars (and growing) debt our Father is borrowing.
As for the Yoruba people, those ones are an entire species of their own: Homo Owanbea. They can party on their sick bed. They can host a naming ceremony for a child that wasn’t even born or resides in Nigeria. No amount of transgenerational debt can deter them. People that would comfortably use their house rent or children’s school fees to sponsor a lavish owanbe that leaves the guests talking for months until another party outperforms them. In essence, they aim to create debt. I mean, if your party hasn’t incurred debt, have you truly partied?
And if they can’t use their house rents to sponsor these parties, they might follow the easier route; borrow money from a friend to buy ” Asoebi” for their neighbour’s husband’s second cousin. Why not? The holy book said “Love your neighbour as thyself”.
There is no week that passes without an Owanbe on at least a street of an estate. And on some weekends, every street gets an Owanbe. COVID-19 has got nothing on them. They will show up with flashy face shields strapped to their hefty gele and party like social distancing is the name of an overpriced wine.
At these parties, be it wedding parties, naming ceremonies, burial, remembrance, anniversaries or any other party-able cause, you’ll find some set of people. They show up and show out. Some are:
The Overdressed ones: This category “The Afefeyeye people” will outdress the hosts. Their attire can be custom made by Deola Sagoe whom they’ll eagerly tag on Instagram while the bride’s was sewn by one Eyinkule tailor. Accessories? In vogue. Makeup? on fleek. They also keep an extra puff of powder and a lipgloss to retouch their face when the need arises. The guys in this category have a signature look; plain sheddah sewn and starched into top and trouser, or agbada for extra paparazzi. The glare of their wristwatches can blinden you and their scent will make you lose your home training if you allow it.
The shy ones: These ones believe everyone is staring at them. Thinking about this alone makes me want to hide somewhere to laugh. Deep down, they want to tear and grind their meat savagely but they’re scared of eye contact with anyone. They will pick a few spoons of their rice (because they dare not request Amala) and chew as if their teeth is made of plastic. The courageous one will even try to use a fork and knife to tear the chicken but las las, they will go home and weep for the free food they passed off.
The selfie geng: These ones started their professions from their mother’s womb. They would have snapped one thousand and one pictures from their house only to get to the event to snap until their phone storage cries for more space. If their selfie camera is not sharp enough, they will not rest until they hunt down an iPhone. You can identify them by the awkward neck movement they keep making in front of the camera. If you didn’t know, you’ll swear they have meningitis. You will find these ones on social media dropping pictures of the state of their body and adding on their WhatsApp status “Category: Everything”
The Clever shy/Tush ones: They are the shy ones that went to Harvard. They can’t eat publicly but they won’t leave their food uneaten. They will craftily wrap their chicken in tissue paper. They have got the eyes of a hawk with perfect timing. How can a tush person like that be seen struggling with drum rolls at a party?
The food and souvenirs sharers: These ones like to feel themselves and are the most biased people you’ll ever encounter in life. Yes, in life. They will share items based on facial recognition, size, And co category etc. But you’re in luck if your mother or aunt is one of them because you’ll not lack anything. Forget LinkedIn and Abuja connect, this is the ultimate form of connection. If you don’t have them, what have you gained?
The food fighters: These ones are my personal heroes at weddings because after they fight themselves or the caterers, the hosts will make sure food is abundant once again. Frankly, this could be anyone frustrated by hunger at a party. Why would I travel from Calabar for Bola’s wedding and not be given food on time? I will fight with all my God given strength because man shall not live by the holy spirit alone but by the satisfaction of a tasty Nigerian wedding jollof rice. Hallelujah!
The all rounders: They will eat from every food served at the party especially if it’s a buffet service. They can confidently tell you with hard facts and references that wedding jollof is sweeter than naming jollof. You are probably one of them. Say the truth and shame the devil. Which one is sweeter? Worthy of mention is the sub-category; the ones that buy black poly bags to collect takeaway food, not remnant o. If you ask them, they will tell you it is for their dog. When you were going to buy a dog for 500k, who sent you?
The unlucky ones: With how everyone is enjoying the life of their head. Food, drinks and souvenirs will pass these ones by. They can only salivate but not taste. See but not touch.They will change their seats many times but still caterers are blind to them.. Siri play me “Pass me not O saviour…”
The “I don’t care” ones: These ones would rather be filing their nails at one corner in their house. They don’t know the celebrants or whatever went down at the party. They only came to mark attendance because it’s the mother’s sister’s uncle’s daughter’s son and their mother said if they don’t, it will bring shame to her.
The over-joyous ones: They dance more than everyone else at the party to the extent that the MC or Alaga will have to beg them jokingly to take their seats. Daddy, be calming down. Remain small dance for another owanbe next week.
The unsolicited money packers: These ones have genes coded for stealing with style. No one can argue otherwise. They devise any and every means to make the BAG! They will komole to the floor and pick money as they rise up. Some will fake their fall on the dance floor so they can pick money. Some will pack money ‘on behalf of the celebrant’ into their personal purse. They are the ones that will also be looking for how to change a 1000naira note into 50naira mints for other guests.
The emotional ones: These one will soak up their tissue paper with tears and start using table serviette to wipe their tears. They are the “Oh my God!” and ” Awwwn” folks, shrieking like cats that fell into cold water. It is not even your wedding aunty. Save your tears for another year.
The overall best in maiming: Who needs an expensive DJ when you have these ones. Just give them a small beat and watch how they will give the hook, the chorus and extra vibes.They will sing and sing until it is only their voice one can hear in the now filled hall.
The Gossipers: Their “geles” are the biggest, the ones that spread like windmill fan. They chew their gum the loudest. It doesn’t only add flavour to the gist, it is a pheromone. Once Mama Ajoke on table six starts chewing loudly, others migrate to her and get down to the business. “Look at her neck, that gold she is wearing she came to wash it at my shop o” chaa “she did not even pay the full fee”. Mama Tunde sitting near her will scream subtly looking around her and covering a side of her face before she whispers ” It’s a lie!”
The creme de la creme: These are the kind of people in the party that’ll make you reflect on your poverty. These are the ones MC and live bands will be simping shamelessly because they know money will drop. Even if they arrive late, after the dance spree, the MC will call for another dance and the live band will be shouting their names as if they have a monetary target to crush. And those ones will be dancing their signature moves as if they cannot move their body. You? What can you drop? If not your handkerchief.
The money sprayers: And of course there are sub categories.
- The angry ones: They will slap anyone they are slapping with naira notes and leave them sprayed with headache. On top of ordinary naira, you want to kill people. If you now have dollars nko?
- There are these ones that do not waste time at all. They just spray all their money at once and wash their hands.
- The slow-mo sprayers: They probably split 500 naira into 50 naira notes. With their tiny purses, they will now spray money till thy kingdom comes.
- The ones that dance more than the money they are spraying. Fear God and leave the stage ma.
The Exes at a wedding: They either come alone or with their entourage to show that they are still alive and happy. They spray money more than everyone at the party and make sure to drop a remarkable gift for the couple. The type of gift that’ll be making the couple quarrel every time. Lest I forget, they snap pictures with the couple to show the world they have gotten over their heartbreak.
The world wide Attendee: They know every single soul at the party. They end up needing a good massage when they get home. Need I tell you that Yoruba people can greet the dead and awaken their spirits? It’s a favourite sport amongst these folks.
The Assistant Photographers: The job that they did not hire you for, you are doing. They will now carry their Tecno and be competing with the official photographer, blocking everyone else. Please, slap one of these people the next time you see them.
The Mogbo Mo Ya: These are the uninvited ones. They hear MC testing the microphone and next thing, they are dressing up to attend the party. They are not related to anybody in the party so they behave anyhow. They have nothing to lose anyway.