No beating around the bush. Straight to the point.
Anyone who grabs hold of a guests list in Nigeria can tell a lot from the list. The class of people, the venue, the food and drinks that would be served there, the kind of circles the host can be found in or wants to be associated with, what kind of party to expect and if the event would be a must attend. Hustlers are always spot on with this type of thing. They will tell you who, what, when, where, why, how and which Of the event. No lele.
Nigerians were not called the happiest people for nothing. We know how to party. And we party hard!!! No matter the occasion, we are ready. Be it a burial or naming. In other words, whether the person is incoming or outgoing... We party. I have even heard of where some guy who was a Deputy Managing Director in a bank, got home to meet his house all done up and redecorated with new furniture and a new coat of paint, just as he returned from depositing the body at the morgue. He was about protesting, but he was cut short by his friends who told him to stop protesting. "Don't say the one that will make God vex for you. Do you know if this is his way of saying 'Its your time to shine?'"
What elements are necessary for a party to be held? Like I said, anything can occasion a celebration. Birthdays, retirement, appointment, marriage anniversary, promotion, graduation, Phd in an unstudied course, reunion, conferment with a Chieftaincy title... The position you hold at the time of the celebration determines the weight of the party and the guests list. If you just got into an office,... ok for clearer understanding, say the office of the Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria, you will be amazed at how many friends you have. Friends who may not as much as have sent you a text message, not call o! just a text when you celebrated the year before the appointment. A call would even be a miracle. They pop up from no where.
In some cases kpakpa, the people who disappeared all these while when you had no appointment begin to blame you for losing their numbers or for not staying in touch. The one I like to hear is... "Ol boy, where you go hide? I lost all my phone contacts and I have been trying to reach you." "Did you change numbers?" Or the attack is the best form of defence method... "Did you delete me from your phone or blocked me? Everytime I try calling my call never goes through. I just said ok oh! One of these days I go see you face to face!" Some employ the service of a decoy who contacts you and asks if you and Mr So so and so are quarrelling. Me? Why? "He said he has tried reaching you and you always don't pick his calls. He even said he sent a text and you did not even bother to reply"... These decoys wet the ground for that run away friend whose call you never got when you became irrelevant 4 years ago. But now..
Guess what? Your new appointment is the reason for the total recall and renewed familiarity. They are all a bunch of fair weather friends. Wonsheboti tan... Ona ti OLUWA gbegba owa je ona iyannu... Ewooooo etun wo!
In other words, people who wrote you off their own guests list, always find excuses for what took you off their list. Shift the blame to look good is their return to favour plan. But some people who have been abandoned see beyond all that crap. Especially these days that the pictures of all who attended any event get splashed in weekly papers, Ovation and several other Ovation wannabes. I have overheard the current SGF say the last time a particular business man called him was when he was Senate President. All of a sudden, the guy was now trying to use attack as the best form of defence. That he thought SGF was quarrelling with him.
Some people take it for granted that they are a permanent fixture and feature on you guests list. Fafafaaaaa foul! If your friendship was not strong in the first place absence from or failure to nurture the friend status just simply means our friendship has run out of validity period. Don't pretend you still have connection. Visit a friendship centre or else... You are so off the guests list. Coming around and hailing me in 2012 when the last time I smelled your stinking breath was 2001. If you were a TOKUNBO car you would have had to be smuggled into my guests list.
Friends? There are some friends that are worse than enemies. They may mean well. But be rest assure you may fall into that well. These same friends form the main people on the guests list of every event in Nigeria. That is if they, the friends, are not the ones who draw up the list in the first place. They usually come with the tag, COMMITTEE OF FRIENDS! This committees have been know to remove names of people from a list. People who they unanimously agree do not qualify to be invited. Leaving the chief host with a host of people to apologise to. Sometimes, by the time the chief host gets around to sending an invite, the excluded friend may feel too slighted to attend.
Which brings me to the next question. Who makes the guests list and how are those on the list selected?
Plainly and simply put, people who add value. However, some are invited for that "just so you know I am still standing" feel. Especially when people wrote you off and you come back bigger and badder. You invite them to come see that "them no reach". In fact, you make sure you mention it during the vote of thanks. Or even get KSA to add it to the praise singing.
Sorry, I had to go there.
The guests list is drawn up from family and friends, business associates, Spouse's friends, old school mates, captains of industry, colleagues at present and past places of work, political affiliations, acquaintances, in-laws, neighbours and so on and so forth. Sometimes, ironically though, the guests list might just include one or two of those the host would not even want at his/her funeral. When the event is under the direct supervision of Madam, chances are some of Oga's friends who madam suspect to be the reason for those late night Oga keeps, may be left out of the guests list BY MISTAKE. Woe betide the person who reminds Oga such persons were mistakenly left out. That person's name gets on a list madam updates every now and then (called black book by some) for future references.
Tit for tat is another yardstick used by Nigerians for knocking out a guests list. This happens when an event host decides to get a pound of flesh back. "What is Yetunde's name and her husband's doing on this list?"... I thought we should extend them an olive... "extend them a bottle of olive oil all you can, they can take it and rub it where the sun don't shine for all I care!!" But Yetunde is a nice woman... "What part of her informed that opinion in your head? Nice my foot! Let them read about it just like we saw theirs in the magazine. I no send!" Now it is payback time.
Bet you already know contractors, hustlers and political apologists are the greatest prostitutes when it comes to drawing up a guests list. To the ordinary eye, the list may appear to be a mix of all kinds of strange bed fellows. But to the people who put that list together, it's all part of a greater puzzle, when properly managed, could lead to a multi billion naira contract, a back to life appointment or even ticket to a government house. A good guests list can sometimes do more than a HAVARD degree. Trust me, I know.
Event planners, (and there are many of them who will corroborate this fact)... Will tell you that the guests list is also a major factor in the choice of the kinds of drinks, food, venue, band and MC contracted for the event. There are some people on certain lists who take nothing but Crystal. Some will only take something if that something is Blue Label JOHNNY WALKER. It is non negotiable. In fact, often, some guests will say never mind, I will bring my own cooler.
There are no guests list that do not have a ghost list. Some people will be invited specially, that can never be on the list especially if madam is privy to the final list. These are the ghost workers that the Oga may not want to have to justify their names being on the list. They just show up at the event in the chosen colours and life is good. I also have it on good authority that, some of such people dont need invites. Oga's P.A. Or a designated usher is assigned to see to it that they are well taken care of. Interestingly, it's only in Nigeria, that a guest will receive an invitation, not confirm receipt or attendance, yet show up at the event... With a gang of 3 more guests, even when the card says CARD ADMITS ONE.
This piece will be incomplete if I fail to mention the friends of people on the guests list who are not on the guests list but generally conclude it was an error of omission, the invite got lost in transit, could have been been stolen, or maybe the host probably thought it had been sent, and show up at the vent anyway! Come and bounce the man who has blended into the colours of the Aso Ebi and is strolling in, hand in hand with Otunba Sunbomi Balogun and Oba Otudeko... Come and bounce your father na!
In fact, some names, may not make the guests list, when they show up at the event, a white lie is all that you see jumping out of the mout of the host. "Oh, sorry chief, we sent it." "Excellency, we heard you would not be in town" "We thought you will not have time to attend."
Some people never fail to amaze me. Nearly 4 years ago, my wife left her bank job. The number of hello ma', just said to call and say hi reduced. Even birthday calls, text and visits reduced to a single or low double digits. Now that it looks like things are not like they thought the things would be permanently and that she is now vindicated and back on the block, I have started receiving calls and strange hellos from people who I last spoke to 3 years ago.
I just feel like asking some of them, where is your guests list for the past nearly 4 years, DEAR FRIEND?