I attended a wedding yesterday. The couple getting married are Britons, but because they're both born of Nigerian parents, of course the event was a Nigerian affair. I heard that many of the guests at the wedding had travelled all the way from Nigeria for the occasion and the gaudily dressed lady seated next to me at the reception, even volunteered that the British Airways Boeing 747 on which she had arrived in London from Lagos the day before, was absolutely packed with the guests now present at this wedding; and that it was exactly the same on the Virgin Atlantic flight a few hours earlier.
I'd heard of this sort of thing. Indeed last year, my very own sister together with her husband journeyed half way across the world from Nigeria to Barbados, stopping over for a few days in Baltimore, Md in the USA, just to attend a wedding in Bridgetown, Barbados. That wedding was of the son of one of their friends. The son was getting married to a lovely Barbadian lady (so I was told). Anyway, the relevance of that bit of information is that my sister who lives in Nigeria normally, but who incidentally was also present at this wedding in London yesterday, joined in my conversation with this lady sitting beside me at the wedding reception. Sis's contribution was that at that wedding in Barbados too, planeloads of Nigerian guests had arrived in Bridgetown via London.
Living frugally in London as you do, I'd almost forgotten the extremes of flamboyance to which my countrymen are liable. My jaw literally dropped when the couple started their First Dance. It is customary at these and other celebratory social occasions for guests to express their goodwill by doling out loads of cash on the celebrant(s) when the celebrants are out on the dance floor. This giving of cash is known as "spraying" and cash gifts are also given for dancing prowess. But it is the manner in which these gifts are given that is interesting. Its not uncommon for the giver while dancing beside the celebrant, to pick out the money, note by note placing the money one note at a time on the forehead of the recipient of the cash. The longer the giver is able to continue with the spraying, the more respected he is.
So I was not particularly surprised when the guest of honour at this wedding reception, who by the way also happened to be at that wedding in Barbados last year, rose from his seat at the high table and danced his way across the floor towards the dancing newly-married couple. But it was to my utter astonishment that this distinguished older gentleman after carefully arranging his agbada on his shoulders, pulled out a thick wad of $100 notes, ($100 bills as the Americans would say). Then slowly, and making sure that those sitting at tables close-by saw that these were $100 notes, he started placing the notes one by one on the bride's forehead. Ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, where's my camera, I must capture this...and it was at this point that I lost count. But I wasn't going to lose the chance to take a picture...I wanted to post some of the photos here but I decided against it, as it may not be entirely in good taste if I did..
When he was done with the bride, he turned on the bride groom. Nine, ten, eleven... While being sprayed it is necessary to have an assistant close by, who picks up the cash note by note as it slips to the floor. To stop dancing in order to handle the money that has has been sprayed on you is just not done. Woe betide you therefore if you're sprayed on a crowded dance floor and you lack the help of an assistant.. So of course the best man and the chief bridesmaid were put to work, with polythene bags in hand, picking up the money from the floor, note after note..I've been thinking of the thousands of US dollars that was sprayed last evening...and I'm still in shock!