This topic is one that has been close to my heart almost all of my adult life and has grown increasingly more so as Yoruba society, nay, most of Nigeria has “follow-follow” – you’re never far from our minds, Dear Fela – Yoruba’s nothing-succeeds-like-excess ways of celebrating.
I remember what an older Nigerian, a real industrialist of the old school once said as part of a speech to the Ibadan Chamber of Commerce in the early 1980s on a subject close to Peter Obi’s presentation here:
Nigeria has become a country where every wedding is a society wedding, every funeral a state funeral …”
Seven or eight years ago when the very successful man celebrated his 80th birthday, he could have had present and past Nigeria’s heads of state, top industrialists and successful businessmen and women, society’s top echelon if he wanted.
However, it was an occasion that will always remain memorable to me for its simplicity, relaxed and thoroughly enjoyable atmosphere that did not display the recklessness and chaos that often are side-shows at such gatherings where all sorts of “aides” to important and self-important Nigerians who always take it upon themselves to pump up the positions of their bosses – and perhaps theirs – by always standing close to the Ogas at the top, pushing if they think less-important guests get too close, and other such common theatrics at Nigeria’s zillions of “society parties”. There were no harried-looking hosts and hostesses running around all over the place.
And get this, there were two very important things that have become as common as destination weddings by Nigerians that were not in sight at that memorable occasions There was no crowd of hundreds dressed alike in affordable ankara fabrics or, as is more common, expensive lace aṣọ ẹbi and hear, hear: everything served at the party was cooked in Nigeria!
Okay, I must explain the last bit of information above. In Nigeria today, no person worth his/her membership of “high society”, a rather flexible word that would include someone like me and even further below – if he/she holds a party at which all things served are cooked in Nigeria!
Omigod! O ga, o (God! Isn’t that something) … Chineke! (God!)… What! et cetera …
Oh yes! Being able – not capable, but being able to wangle – a few foreign items that are actually imported into your menu list is a sign that you “have arrived” but many in the real high society class to which the octogenarian had belonged for several decades actually pride themselves on – wait for this – holding parties at which everything served is imported! It would be veering off the topic if I start wondering aloud where most of those celebrants get their money because they are our neighbors, relatives, representatives in governments …
Everything at the 80th birthday celebration was measured, perhaps almost understated, even while everybody was adequately cared for. It remains one of the very few Nigerian parties – within or without the country – that I’ve ever enjoyed.
The thought expressed by the man at the Chamber of Commerce gathering, and Obi’s thoughts, as well as the sentiments expressed in Blogs elsewhere: “Aso Ebi” menace – link below – show exactly where I stand on the subject.
Now, let’s hear what the former governor’s very short comments on “celebrating waste”, comments that have been deliberately expanded here to briefly look at the where and how we celebrate, and the “anarchy” and chaos of society.
AṢỌ ẸBÍ MENACE
PETER OBI SERIES
1 of 7: #Peter ObiAndTheChangeNigeriaNeeds
2 of 7: How I defeated “ministry people …”
3 of 7: I was impeached for cutting waste
4 of 7: Account of Anambra State’s Debt Profile