Wednesday, May 4, 2011

This is Oyiboland - Let's party

Hi Ginger!!!
It’s my birthday tomorrow :). Please let me know if you’d be interested in dinner after our last class tomorrow @7.30am. It will be at Inshanghai: the new Chinese restaurant at the Gates. I heard the food is really great ;)
Cheers.. Steve
So in those early days, when I get this kinda mail I’d get so excited. Like Yay! Chinese.Yay! Outing for me and my friends. Yay!! On somebody’s bill. Bless your generous heart Steve for wanting to feed me Yay!!!. God bless your parents for giving birth to such a wonderful generous man like you.
Wake up and Welcome to Oyiboland; where all that glitters is not gold.
Now in Nigeria, If I had gotten that kinda invite from Steve. It means…Steve has hit ‘dirt pay’ and wants to spend part of it with/on his friends. Steve is inviting me to an all expense paid dinner at Inshanghai. All I have to do is wear a pretty dress and get myself there. Maybe buy him a card and/or gift. If the place is far I might even complain and Steve will arrange some sort of transportation to get me there or promise to foot my taxi bills ..cause he really wants me to be there.
In Oyiboland…It means…You are invited to come join my birthday dinner party. It is great opportunity to be in the company of friends. You are expected to foot your own bills and some (like if the table buys bottles of wine the cost is split…love wine or not) so do come with ‘generous’ cash or balance in your debit card. And if the place is far, well get on the bus or get a taxi..duh!
I really don’t know the origin of this culture. Is it for practicality? The ingrained culture of independence? A case of people being reasonable…there’s a recession you know? Or just sheer miserliness. Or are Nigerians the ones doing it wrong by placing so much responsibility on the celebrant?

On the other hand, I have also been part of potluck dinner celebrations, wherein everyone contributes something to the party. I bring a tureen of fried rice. Lee brings pork chops. Brian makes chicken masala, Meg bakes cookies. Lisa makes some pasta dish. The traditional rule is that each dish be large enough to be shared among a good portion (but not necessarily all) of the anticipated guests. The dinner table ends up being filled with loads of amazing food to mix and match. I love those and really think it’s an idea worth borrowing. I have met this community of Nigerian friends who do this most weekends. It makes for a stress-less way of having get-togethers. What do you think?

p.s. Sorry I am a day late. Just couldn’t get into writing mode yesterday!


  1. I'm not a fan of parties where you pay for everything - especially when the cost is astronomical.

    I was once invited to a party where I was told that it was a black tie event and would cost £80 per seat. By the time I calculated everything: (£80x2 + Babysitter £30 + Cab £60 + Tux hire for hubby £70 + Present £50 min....); I made my excuses and sent her the pressie instead. Money doesnt grow on trees.

    However, I do believe in Pot luck or BYO (bring your own) parties. We have this once in a while in the church and it is always fun.

    I like the simplicity of Oyinbo celebration. Naija parties can sometimes go overboard. I cannot tell you how irritating it is to attend a child's birthday party - where adults are wearing aso-ebi and drinking Hennessy - whereas ther is no entertainment organised for the kids !

    If one doesnt have the funds to celebrate big is wrong to inconvenience others.

  2. Mama! Those calculations na serious matter but necessary my sister, lol.
    But your first and last lines are contradicting somewhat:). The person planning astronomical parties should be prepared to foot the bill OR one should party according your purse size?

  3. When I was new I thought oyibo parties were pitiful. I now like the idea. The simplicity is great. You don't have to worry too much about how you dress, etc.

  4. Potlucks are just the best, I loved being part of that while in Edinburgh. I had my birthday twice there, once I invited my coursemates, the other time, it was colleagues from work. Each time they first asked, how much should they bring? They were soo obviously pleasantly surprised that it was just come and chop. They did give better gifts than my Nigerian invitees, lol.

  5. In footing bills at birthday party; tell me about it. I've been a victim once when I just got outside of Nigeria. Thank God I had my wallet with me that day. I wont bore you with the story. lol

    It is well...

    - LDP

  6. Yep, u learn real fast that when someone invites you to go somewhere, u better have ur own money to spend. I love potlucks. I think they are awesome.

  7. I think Nigerians go overboard with their parties sometimes. I went to a party once and people were doing take-away when other people have not had anything to eat.If you have to pay for what you eat at a party, people will behave properly. I love potlucks too.

  8. LOLLLLLLLLLL. I prefer the one where Steve arranges for a car and foots the entire bill.

  9. Mchewww..I learnt the hard way. It was one of my roommates birthday and my roommates came to me and told me that they were trying to get her a present or something. I donated. Later on, they told me we were going to this restaurant. I declined going. But they convinced me. So tell me why we get there and when the bill comes, we need to split it even though I didnt even have more than a plate of pasta! I was livid but I learnt my lesson...

    I would never invite friends out to my party if I am footing the bill. And if it is done in honor of another friend, I will tell all parties involved of what's up, not spring financially draining surprises on them along the line

  10. Okay, the simplicity is cool though. Here in Naija, you just pick yourself up and 'Lets go there' Lol. Hosting a party here is not a joke. People even show up without presents and still expect to eat and take some away with them. I really like potluck dinners. Sweet.

  11. Or how white folks will invite you for dinner at theirs and you make that mistake of going there hungry. U don enter! From the sparse side dish to the very small chicken breast... No be persin go tell you to eat at home before stepping out again.

  12. How apt that my first time here (what took me so long???) should be on the day I have been invited for 30th birthday and they have told us to put £40 in the acct before we even reach!!

  13. At a Nigerian party, the knowledge that the celebrant is paying for everything makes people act stupidly. They bring their friends, their friend's friends AND the kids...and then their tupperware in their handbags, to take food home with them like they can't cook.
    As someone who's waitressed at these events, I was LIVID at the amount of food people piled onto their plate and then didn't eat - ah, I pray that being olojukokoro will not finish them one day ¬_¬
    But I don't like splitting the bill equally either, because I don't eat much, nor do I drink, so I always end up worse off that the person who decided munching a steak was essential to their lifesblood...*kmt* Give me a BYO any day! I love it :)

  14. You sef? Contradictory gini? :)
    What I'm saying is that if a person wants to party big time i.e. white tie event in a Hyde park hotel...Then the person should be prepared to foot the bill for most things i.e. dont charge per head and insist on expensive dress code + Dont inconvenience guests (like me) who have other obligations.
    You get me now abi?

  15. Okay, I think parties should be "hosted". The exception is a pot luck (which we also have here and I think they are great)! Not sure about making arrangement for someone to get here, but once you are, if I am the host, it is hosted. Still, it's very common for people to bring wine or beer with them and that's fine, but if they do not, it's fine too. I hope you went and had fun!

  16. I agree with Linda...if you invite me to a party/get-together, YOU are my host, and should "host" me - that includes supplying the food/snacks/drinks etc...except where otherwise agreed. I find it strange when people invite you to their own DO and expect you to be left out of pocket (re Naijamum's calculation...haba!)

    I also like the mix and match idea...for the variety.

  17. I find it strange oh! Here when you go to a party, you have to ask, "what do i bring?" There is even something called BYOB or Bring Your Own Beer. Shio. When I throw a parry, I throw a parry! Come, eat, drink and be merry. Naijas know how its done.

  18. I like pot lucks as long as I know who brought the food so I know what to eat. There are peoples houses that I have been to that I will not eat their food mostly because they have fly paper hanging in the kitchen over where the food is prepared. If I've been to your kitchen and it is lived-in clean, I'll eat whatever you bring.

  19. I'm loving your "this is oyiboland" series :D
    haha, no one jokes with their dime in oyiboland o!..i think we are jst too used to the african tradition of "communalism". Here everyone most foot his bill..infact sef, if you and a friend go on a trip, you must be ready to drop some gas money :/

  20. Are you kidding me? You get invited to the party and you have to get your bill? Not fair oh lol. He should have made it a potluck instead- that makes sense at least. And yeah, i've gone to a few of those; i think it's a pretty good idea.


  21. I have a group of five friend and for each other's birthdays we always take the birthday gal to lunch somewhere of her liking and the non-birthday gals split the bill and it's always affordable. We've been doing this for years. But sometimes we do a potluck at one of our houses, which is always fun. We did a Moroccan potluck a couple of week's ago. I agree with Linda that if the birthday person is sending out invites to their own party then they are the host and should pick up the tab. After all, you're buying a gift. Hope it was fun!

  22. Pot luck all the way baby!

  23. @Naijamum in L : I know, I can tell I don't go out much! But for some events, there's always pressure to have a big such thing as a small, subtle Nigerian wedding *shakes head sadly*



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