7 Unwritten Etiquette of Nigerian Owambes: THINGS you should NOT do at parties


Owambe (also spelt owanbe) is a word that has come to stay on the tongue of nearly all Nigerians when describing a feast. It was coined from the Yoruba phrase “O wa ni be” meaning “it’s there”.

Maybe because Yorubas love to party. The reason Senator Adeleke danced better than Dangote at the latter’s daughter’s wedding. In fact, in a part of Southwest Nigeria, they could run a party for four days straight -bubbling, cooking and dancing through the days.

Owambe says: a party is there. Like saying: it’s happening there. There’s a lot of food and fun there.

Most times, it comes with uniform attires called aso ebi. Another Yoruba word meaning “family cloth”. That could be the real identity and sometimes the passport into the venue. You get that?!

Here, the parties under review are strictly wedding ceremonies. Solemnization of souls who have been convinced they could be partners for life.

Over the years, I’ve attended quite a number and I have seen some gaps needed to be addressed.

Let’s roll with some.

Invitation and Preparedness

In most parties, invitation are sent to people by either the couples or family members or even close friends.

These days it’s not only the traditional way of sending hardcopies of invitation cards. Invitations could come through social media or one-on-one chats. What is certain is: invitations will always come.

However, you must mind the parties you attend. You might need to learn to stay off parties you weren't invited to. If you gate crash, there could be consequences. And, we all need to know this. I have seen people suffer for breaking this rule.

A good reason for invitations is to prepare your body, soul and spirit to attend the party.

You should consider your timetable, check your pocket, ensure your tailor delivers your outfit at least two days before D-day (to avoid stories that touch), try to know the venue earlier if possible (I have arrived at some venues about when the party has ended before. Sobs!) and ensure your GIT is in a stable state.

Again! If you attend a party uninvited, your self esteem could be scattered. Maybe you won't even be served food or souvenirs. Maybe you won't have a seat. Maybe you won't have that party fun. It could dampen your spirit.

Likewise, if you go without proper preparation, your day can be spoilt.  At all times, be sincere with yourself. Know that it’s good to honour invitations but it’s not compulsory you attend if you’re not prepared or not invited.

Stain table, not your outfit

We all need to be careful with food. Especially men. Especially when you wear white or colours that don’t conceal stains.

You are forgiven if spot a table with oil, chunks, crumbs and left overs from food. But, if you do on your outfits, chaiiii you too like food. LoL.

For men, your beards also have an affinity to food stains. Mind it. Don't spoil beard gang and sweet boys for us with your carelessness.

It could actually mean you’ve bad table manners. Now imagine you see a lady you’ve been eyeing for long. And your outfit is all stained with oil. It can destroy confidence. And can portray you in another image. Please be careful with your owó epo. Moving forward.

Moderation and Dignity in your actions

Forget that mentality of no one is here to watch me. Tomorrow, one will be running for a political office and one’s countenance in a single party will work against one.

Why drink all the drinks at a party to stupor? Why dance all dances mannerlessly? Why eat all foods being served to purging level? Don't fight for jollof rice. It's overrated. LoL. In fact, Amàlà will bring more meats than jollof in some parties.

However, don’t go for what will “run your stomach”. Remember, what’s meant for you won’t pass by you. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be smart.

Why overdo things? Ladies, don’t wear heels that would hurt your ankle. Watch your countenances. Don’t allow a single day ruin your future. Be moderate. And protect your dignity even while having fun. It’s very important. Fast forward.

Keep your reviews and mind your business

Guests! It’s not one of your duties to get too excited over publishing a journal on your reservations about the couple. No one has been promoted for doing that.

Whether the bride is too ugly for the groom, or the groom is too short for the bride, or the family of the bride are too poor, or the family of the groom are classy; my dear, it is none of your business.

Attend, eat, watch and keep whatever that’s not important inside you. Also, don’t go to parties to inform single guests why it should be their turn very soon (except you and the person are usual “playful” talkers of such subjects). Even at that, still be careful with it.

Mind you, some of us come to parties to take a break from our worries, don’t come and spoil our breaks with your unsolicited prophesies. May you not be unfortunate.

Donation

It’s not compulsory to give a donation to the couple, but it could be necessary. Not for them, sometimes but for your conscience, all times. Especially when you’ve the capacity to do.

Even if it's a bottle of folic acid tablets (very good for expecting mothers), make sure you buy in a pharmacy too. I know this because I am a pharmacist by profession.

Gift the couple a gift. It could be something memorable. You can also be generous to give to the priests or anyone anchoring the event especially when they solicit.

Don’t just seat down to consume and laugh like you just won a jackpot. Give if you’re capable. Give to the small girl selling sweets around the party and those who seek alms too. You might create happiness giving.

Reach the couple

Reach them while in the hall if you’ve access to them or send someone to ask if it would be necessary to arrange food for them.

This shouldn’t be exclusive to the best-man and best-lady. They might have forgotten to eat too. Don’t just look couple smiling, they might be hungry too.

In fact, most couples starve during weddings. The happiness of the day carries day all through. They get home to crash and wake the next day like a new world just hatched.

Most importantly, remember them in your prayers. Reach them after D-day and seek their welfare. Please, this is not a license to ask the reason the bride is not pregnant yet. Don’t be stupid.

It’s not part of your duties (except your attention is called). Just send them good wishes always.

Network

It’s no news wedding parties are reunions. Exchange contact with friends you’ve seen for long.

Meet new friends. You might even meet your own other half in a party. Don't be an Africanae arrogantus. It has happened before.

Entrepreneurs! You’re equally allowed to promote your business to them. You might even “jam” your next client.

Conclusion

That would be all for now. I wish you fun at your next owambes. Here is a starters guide from your party coach. Just keep this list of etiquette, and will be fine. May the couples around the world find happiness in their unions, find solace in their embrace and find a home in each other’s arms.

Here is my toast.

Owambe

This is to entertain you and teach some basic morals in gatherings.


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Ridwan Adeniran (BabaBaale)
Writer. Pharmacist. Poet and Troublemaker

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