Funny Article! How To Eat At A Nigerian Party By Oluwole Leigh

‘The Reward of eating rice at a Nigerian party is an honour
to which the greatest of men aspire‘ – Julius Caesar (1777)
Dear Son,
You have set out on a noble quest. You seek to understand
that which others have found impossible. You seek to receive the hidden
knowledge behind the consumption of food at a Nigerian party. This is a mystery
which many sages have sought to unravel. They have travelled far and wide in
order to seek this knowledge but you have chosen to sit at my feet and listen.
Many a night has been spent crying and weeping because of hunger, many a
stomach have been left rumbling. Wipe your tears, my son. Your crying has come
to an end and your sorrow is no more. You will need to listen attentively to my
words for therein you will find help. My area of expertise is limited to the
people of South Western Nigeria, popularly called Yoruba people a.k.a Ariya
People. This ethnic group was born to party. All the dynamics, variables and
permutations of the party lifecycle has been sorted out by them.

You need to be aware of the ‘Aso-Ebi‘ Factor. ‘Aso-Ebi‘ is
more than a piece of cloth. It is a psychological link between the celebrant
and the guests. The celebrant derives some sort of affirmation from coercing
innocent people to put on a particular piece of cloth. The celebrant looks into
the party venue and is filled with joy at seeing his/her guests looking like
members of a Village army. More often than not, servers are inclined to serve
those who put on ‘Aso-ebi’. Herein, lies a major lesson- Do your best to get
the ‘Aso-ebi’. The servers tend to be young boys and girls who have been forced
to do a job by society. They have to make quick decisions and you don’t want to
make their work harder. If you want them to serve you, look and dress like you
deserve to be served. In the unlikely event that you are not able to buy the
‘Aso-ebi’, turn out in resplendent white native attire with a cap that has the
colors of the day.
Also, ensure you stay away from any church service or
ceremony that precedes the main party. Those who go for such services are
people who have strong ties with the family and want to appear in pictures. On
getting to the party venue, you have to put on your shades or dark glasses. It
doesn’t matter if the party is held at midnight or in the noon-day sun. The
shades must always come up. Apart from the feel-cool factor, it helps you to scan
around the party and conduct quick assessments without being noticed. If you
need to determine your co-ordinates in relation to the ‘service points’ without
being detected, you may need to cover your eyes. It could also help you to
check out some ample female bosoms that may be on display during the event. But
focus is required my young man, do not exchange your birthright for a meal of
porridge. Let the bosoms be and concentrate on the food.
You must have a copy of the day’s newspaper with you.
Saturday Punch is the most preferable. Usually, you sit at a table with a bunch
of strangers. Everyone is trying to look important or feel disconnected from
the immediate environment. The newspaper serves two purposes. The first is that
it helps you look older than you are. 
The second is that it is an excellent ice-breaker. I can assure you that
the moment you place the newspaper in front of you for five minutes, someone
will ask to read it. The whole aim of this Newspaper business is to help your
brand/image. Servers and those around you are constantly evaluating you.
Painting a good impression of yourself will make your chances of being served
brighter. Also, the people sitting around you will also ensure that your seat
is not taken by others when you have to stand up.
You must be located within 2m radius of any food serving
point. The truth is that food service at Nigerian parties goes smoothly for 30
minutes before a breakdown of law and order occurs. This breakdown of law and
order is as a result of the actions of individuals who want to show that they
know better than the caterer. They usually give the caterer about 30 minutes of
grace before they strike. This is why you must sit close to the serving points.
The 30-minute window period is real. You must take advantage of it
You may need to greet the celebrants. The moment, the
parents of the bride/groom step into the hall. This is when you need to strike.
Usually, they are swamped by a lot of friends and family members who have come
to felicitate with them. They are often unable to distinguish their friends
from their foes. You need to make sure you approach them immediately after
their close friend or family member greets them. This is to ensure that the
affection they transfer to them rubs off on you. More often than not, they will
not realize that they don’t know you. They will hug you and thank you like
their lives depend on it.
Sometimes, the previous tactics may not work. You may not be
located close to the serving points or may have come in late to the event. This
is when you activate the backup plan. This backup plan is a lesson in deferred
gratification. The concept is ‘others first , I last‘. Look around you and
locate where family members and important guests of the day are seated. Stand
up, walk to their table and ask them if they have eaten. They will probably say
no. You should inform them that you will ensure that they are well fed. March
back to the caterers and inform them in a loud and alarming voice that
important guests are going hungry. You may even announce that one of them needs
food in order to take some medication. The caterer will immediately assign a
server with a tray of food to you. Ensure that the server follows you and you
hand over the food to the guests. This process may be repeated a couple of
times. The aim is to show you as a trusted member of the house who is
interested in the welfare of others. On the 3rd or 4th run of this social
experiment, you will be able to lift off a few plates of food and settle down
with them.
Usually, drinks are usually more available than food because
of the recent Nigerian ‘fear of sugar’. You may need to establish a good
relationship with the drinks’ servers for reasons I will disclose later. You
may do this by calling one of them any name that comes to your mind. He will
correct you and give you his real name. Ensure that you get the name of 1 other
server as part of a backup plan.
These days, most Nigerian parties go beyond the normal one
course/two course meal scenarios. Some parties even offer three course meals.
You need to decide which of the meals will be forfeited by you – Appetizer,
Main Course or Dessert. You cannot afford to be seen as a hungry person. This
is because a lot of party organizers have plain clothes security men and
volunteer vigilantes who seek to point out party crashers. The easiest way for
them to catch you is to see that you are consuming everything within reach.
When the servers bring ice cream, chocolate or small chops, let everyone on the
table know that you are not a fan of such foods. You can even throw in a little
talk about their sugar levels and how fatty foods must be avoided. In spite of
the fact that you just downed a plate of pounded yam, let them know that you
eat only vegetables during the week.  You
have to endure the pain of loss because of the joy that is set before you.
Every major victory in life comes with its own struggles.
Jesus had Judas to contend with while my mentor Julius Caesar was betrayed by
Brutus. You have to watch out for enemies of progress. These enemies are just
like you. They also came around for free food. Kindly make sure you scan around
for people like you whenever you sit down at a table. You cannot afford to have
two individuals implementing the same ideas in close proximity. If you cannot
quickly come to an agreement with such a fellow, change your table.  The final part of the party would involve the
distribution of wines and expensive spirits. At this point, your aim is to
share one bottle with others and take one bottle home.
Do not be in a haste to jump on the bottle of wine set
before you. Usually, the cheap ones are the easiest to get. The very expensive
spirits are usually kept in an ice drum and are usually under lock and key.
They are reserved for close friends of the family. At this point, you would
need to apply a little bit of intelligence. Usually, the caterer in charge of
the drinks is different from that of the food. Your sacrificial acts are
probably known to the food servers and not the folks serving the drinks.
Remember where I told you to get a few names earlier? Get in touch with one of
the guys and let him know you intend to get one of the expensive wines. He will
inform you that the drinks are reserved and have been locked down by the
celebrants.  You can encourage him by
slipping a N500 note into his pocket. Be assured that he will ‘do the needful’.
That bottle of VSOP is going home with you. When you receive the expensive
drink, do not put the expensive wine on the table; place it in between your
legs. You want to avoid unnecessary questions from your neighbours. They may
want in on the action and word may get back to the family member that their
reserved drinks are being shared indiscriminately
Finally, you’ve had the first and second course, shared a
bottle of wine and collected another one to take home. You have to make your
exit with the expensive drink in your hand. Whip out your phone for an
imaginary phone call and tell the imaginary caller that you can’t hear them.
Make your way to the exit with the phone on the side of your head. If you get
any greetings from the guests, make a few hand signs showing that you are
coming back. Ensure that your phone call lasts till you are clear of enemy
territory. When you are assured of safety, find your way home.
In closing, there are different tactics for different
occasions. Do not attempt to apply the strategies that are used for weddings at
burials or birthday parties.  Such
misapplication may backfire. Always rise to the occasion and take each party as
it comes. I will leave you with the words of William Shakespeare ‘Be not afraid
of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have
greatness thrust on them’

Your Mentor

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