Hmmm, I don’t know why I always do this, that is look for trouble.
Why am I about to incur the wrath of my host and in laws, the Yoruba people? But Abeg what is life if we cannot look for trouble and laugh at ourselves while at it? So today I want to yab Yoruba people for their love of their Owambe party. These parties are usually organized to celebrate all sorts, weddings, burials, graduation house opening, release from jail and also rememberance amongst others. The planning usually takes months or even years depending on the prominence of the family organising it.
It is usually a wonder to behold. The Yoruba people do not joke with this party at all as months earlier fabric called’Aso Ebi’ is sold and are fiercely fought for by prospective attendees. It is usually very colorful and marks out different groupings. The families, the in laws, the celebrants, the creditors, the mistresses and also even those who just heard that is the, ‘mogbo mo ya’ people all deck out in these materials. At the party, the colour of head gear and cloth determines the kind of service you get. If you are lucky to wear the identified official colour then your table will be filled with the choicest of food and wine. But if you are unfortunate to wear a colour closer to the mogbo moyàpeople then you would most likely go home hungry.
Food is served in abundance. The staples for these parties include rice, pounded yam, Amala, fresh fish etc. Then you would be given deserts and sorry I should have said earlier appetiser, which could be fruits, akanmu and puff puff. To me the highlight is usually the dance. The musician on stage is given a list of prominent people and he on the spot starts singing their praises. This usually leads to the big boys spraying the musician while ogling the women and choosing the ones they will go home with. Many men have lost their wives during these dances. All the predator does is to target one of the big bottom, light skinned with dark blotches on their ankles with his crisp notes. As she wriggles her waist to the melodious songs on the bandstand, the randy wolf starts spraying her with money. He strategically places the money on her forehead, her chest, her waist while doing this whispering into her ear that they should meet later.
Yoruba people never forget their traditions. Even in the US, the money spraying during owambe is very important
With one eye on her husband, the target whispers her numbers to the man and the man takes down the number and completes the spraying and goes to sit down beside the husband. The women look forward to this so dance for different purposes. Some enjoy the praise singing, others use it as a platform to flaunt their goods in the hope that they will meet or find a husband, others do it for the money they would earn by wriggling their padded buttocks, while the rest just love the dance showing off their carefully chosen shoe and bag.
Finally as the party draws to an end, the last fight commences. This is fighting for the various parting gifts usually shared by the celebrant and family. The coolers, plastic buckets, notepads are the usual gifts distributed and the scramble for these gifts make the Yoruba people some of the most agile people ever. You should see the scramble and fight for these buckets which they have over ten in their homes .
The Owambe party have come to stay so let’s get used to it.
Photo credit: Jgatesvisuals