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Seven Things You Must Know Before Attending Any Owambe

You might have been wondering why you get passed over at every Owambe you attend. Why do the servers ignore you as if you 'no follow' come? Why did you have to shout yourself hoarse before you were served one miserable looking amala with a rock-like bokoto and a shaki that is so hard you're cursing under your breath? 


Guy, if you don't understand how your mates are making it, na only you go waka come. Let me reveal the Owambe secrets to you. You can thank me later. 

You don't need to know the celebrant. You just need to know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows the celebrant. Six degrees of separation l'obade.

Have a well starched dress. If you're able to get one in your wardrobe that matches all the funny colours of today (turquoise blue, lilac red, lemon green, etc), that is fine. If not, come as you are. Nobody has been sent out of an owambe before for not being colour compliant. If it is agbada, it is better. Agbada sets you apart and a cap on it makes you complete. It is a capital offence to wear English wears to an Owambe as a man. For the women, you're incomplete without the headgear and your 'pancake'. 

The more your 'pancake', the closer you're assumed to be to the celebrant. Don't attend an Owambe plain or you'll be plainly treated. Balance your 'gele' on your head like Madam Kofo and the ushers will put you very close to the high table. If you want to gatecrash an Owambe, never arrive late. You stand a better chance if you arrive earlier. Do you see most of the people who just sit down at the reception venues while others are still in church? Yes, they are gatecrashers like you. If you know, you know.

If you attend with Okada, make sure the Okada parks far away from the venue. No usher or bouncer should see you alight from the Okada. It is when you get down that you should put on your agbada. You can now stroll and bounce towards the venue with your phone close to your ears as if you're receiving a call. Your voice must be loud enough to announce your presence.

Make sure you smile at the bouncers at the entrance and don't avoid their gaze. You can pat them on the back lightly as you say, 'Bawo ni?'. As you do so, throw one side of your agbada slightly. Also remember to tell them, 'You're blessed'. They will never ask you for your invite- even if they say the event is strictly by invitation. Your agbada or gele has done the trick. No one wears agbada to become a gate-crasher.

As you enter the venue, identify an usher and beckon to him/her. Ask for the table reserved for the friends of the celebrant and do so with your chest out. Are you not a friend of the celebrant? The usher will take you to a designated seat. Be friendly with the ushers. Cooperate with them. The more cooperative and friendly you are, the better your chances of being served early. You form a big man at your own peril. Jollof will just be passing you by. Pass me not, o thou jollof rice.

When the celebrant steps in, join those who go to dance with him or her. Nobody cares if you've never met before. Just be sure it's the celebrant you're dancing with and not the wrong person. You can't miss the celebrant anyway because the emcee will announce. Dance rigorously. Make sure you're noticed. Your dance may elevate you to a better table or even the high table. Or you'll get to be served the choice wines reserved for special guests. 

Don't worry if you didn't bring any gift. Most attendees don't bring gifts. At best, they bring wall clocks and cards. Gifts are usually a last minute pick on the way to the venue. Your presence is enough. Your presence is greater than any present. The celebrant recognizes this. 

That's why he/she responds in kind with plastic buckets and handkerchiefs as souvenirs. Plastic buckets for your takeaways and handkerchiefs to clean your sweat. Be quick with your food. Never be slow. Different dishes are passing over your head. Call a friendly usher and whisper to him/her. The male ushers are usually friendlier. Just tell them you want to 'taste' the next dish. They understand. 

But remember to keep a N200 note for them. You can even put it somewhere on the table for them to see. Ha! It works like 'special package'. As you're eating moin moin, you'll be eating ewa agonyin. Others on your table will be wondering why you're getting quality attentionn.

Since those who serve drinks are different, have another N200 handy for them. Otherwise, you'll only drink pure water. If you increase your handout to N500, your value also increases geometrically. They can starve everyone on your table while you get all the attention. You will be the one pointing out those they should give food and drinks. Others on your table will suddenly defer to you as they say, 'Eskiss sir, they have not served me'. You see those servers? They're as important as petrol station attendants during fuel scarcity. Respect them.

As you're eating, someone will whisper into your ears. He's the emcee of the event and he has noticed the attention you're getting. He wants to give your name to the guy on the band stand for recognition. Tell him you usually like to remain anon. Your oath of office demands a quiet lifestyle. He will understand that to mean you're a high-ranking government official and because of EFCC, you need to be careful. He will hesitate a bit as you're meant to 'drop' something.

Tell him to write his account number on a paper and give it to you. Big men only do transfers. Don't wait till the end of the party to leave- especially if there is another Owambe to attend same day. Always target when the Chairman of the ceremony is giving his speech. Stand and pretend as if you need to use the bathroom. Step out quietly. 

The bouncers will hail you, expecting an appropriate response in naira. Wave as if you're still coming back. Better still, raise your phone to your ears as if you're picking a call and need to be away from the noise. All the drummers will give you some leeway. Flag an okada and ride away with your agbada blowing in the wind.

 Until the next owambe.
© Bayo Adeyinka

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