Tuesday 12 June 2012
This post is part of my Lagos series. Every Nigerian knows that Yoruba people, especially Lagosians, are famous for their love of parties and having a good time. My yoruba side means that I love to party too.
My few weeks in Lagos has made me realise that partying is an art and I have a lot to learn. People take throwing of parties very seriously here with everyone desperately trying to out do each other. Guests come to assess how 'big' the event was and speculate on how much money was spent. None of the parties I have been to in Abuja or Kaduna even begin to compare. Although owambes I have been to in America are just as lavish, if not more (Maryland is the worst)!
Lagosians celebrate everything large. Birthdays, funerals, anniversaries, house warming, promotion, communion, thanksgiving etc. I even went for an introduction that was bigger than an average wedding! Any event that in England would simply require opening a bottle of wine and toasting, turns into a circus. There are events every single weekend.
I have been out every weekend since I've been here. The best part is the discovery of this phenomenon called "small chops". I am addicted.
For my unaware Northerners, small chops is a concept that serves little fried snacks either as a starter or after the main meal. It usually consists of spring rolls, samosas, prawns, little fish in batter, masa, which is little plantains fried in batter, fried meats, gizzard, grilled chicken and the almighty puff puff.
Can I just say that no one does puff puff quite like Lagosians! There's this woman who fries puff puff down my street and she's now my best friend!
Generally the food at all the parties I have been to has been unbelievably amazing. I wonder why I have not gained weight! Its also always excessive. And the drinks just keep coming.
So here are the typical things you see at a Lagos Owambe:
1) Location, Location, Location- This really determines how 'posh' your event is. Until you live in Lagos, you do not quite understand the island/mainland divide. The 'island' is supposed to be where its at, so ideally you want your event to be in Ikoyi, Lekki, Victoria Island etc so this will be the equivalent of living in Chelsea etc, The mainland is also divided, so the posh bits are Ikeja GRA, Magodo, Apapa etc Some people that live on the island claim never to venture to the mainland unless they are going to the airport. My friend has even suggested that people on the mainland should get passes to come to the island so trust me when I say it gets very deep!
2) Beautiful People- Lagosians do NOT play with looking good. There's also no age limit on looking good, infact the mummies always go harder. Their geles, professional make-up, beautiful hair, and bling bling! They are usually always dressed in beautiful aso-ebi, with each woman sewing a unique style. Even the men always look daper. Everyone is always on trend.
3) Live Bands- Every Lagos event I have been to has had an amazing live band. I have always loved live music anyway but it would be hard for anyone not to love these. At yoruba events they belt out classics to talking drums and wash you until you have sprayed them with every penny you came with. There are always money changers around to give you mint notes in smaller denominations. They get everyone dancing and in a great mood and serve as an ego boost. There is also usually a d.j and a host/comedian so you are basically getting a free show.
4) Food- As mentioned earlier, the food is always on point. A typical example is my great-aunt's 80th birthday party last weekend. On seating you are given a choice of African food or chinese, you also get a cocktails menu. Then comes the small chops, little desserts such as mini cheesecakes, tiramasu, ice-cream, cookies etc. Then comes cupcakes and the birthday cake. All the while waiters are walking by with chapman and champagne begging you to drink. Its really a foodie's heaven!
5) Gifts- You have not gone for an owambe if you don't come back with a gift. There is nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing that can't be given as a gift. You get the standard notebooks, bowls pens, handfans etc But I have also gotten salt, corkscrews, soaps, detergent, vests, vases, nail cutter, towels and recharge cards. At an uncle's party they gave everyone a bottle of Hennesy! And it was his mum's burial!! Apparently some people even give out phones and ipads, this I am yet to see but anything is possible in Nigeria!
I have loved going out in Lagos as Lagosians have an amazing spirit. When they party, they party hard, and I think they deserve it as life here can be extremely tough and challenging. They work very hard, and are constantly on their grind, but when they party they let go of every worry. I can never forget this petrol attendant that was dancing azonto while filling my tank, with the biggest smile on his face like he had no worry in the world.
Its a great way to live.