Sunday, 30 August 2009

Spraying..

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!

12 comments:

Mama Shujaa said...

Nawa-o! More cado for the unborn childrens' college funds is my hope! I bet you the guest of honor has a full calendar!

Anengiyefa said...

Hello Mama Shujaa, no be small thing o! Maybe I've been living away from home for too long to have been affected in the way that I was. The guest of honour carried on as if it was just another day at the office and as for the unborn kids' college fund, lets hope the couple don't go sraying away at other peoples' weddings..lol

Rox said...

Wow, with the crunch and all, can I convince a certain young man to marry me and have this guy as the guest of honour? He could bring his other generous friends as well o!!.....This was a very interesting piece, there's so much similarity in the different African cultures, starting with the flamboyance!!.....Dont you wish you were the best man? tihihiihii

Anengiyefa said...

Hi Rox, I've missed you. Hope you've been well..

The recession doesn't apply to certain Africans it seems, lol. I will be guest of honour when that young man decides to do what he should do. But I'll have to save and save beforehand so make sure its not anytime soon...:)

Rox said...

I've missed you too my dear, and being MIA is not intentional, work has been an extremely demanding master lately with lots of travelling involved.....well better start saving those pounds now, huh?...... The thing with Africa is that there are both extremes, the very very poor and the stinking rich like your Mr. Moneybags here. All in the same Africa, same country, but they may not even be aware that the other extreme exists. For me though, such public displays are abit obscene, especially knowing that most of said dollars may not have been very rightfully acquired. It seems improper. But thats just Rox....

Anengiyefa said...

Rox, I totally agree about "obscene". This is the same Africa where vulnerable members of society such as disabled people, are condemned to a life of destitution and begging on the streets; the same continent where a significant proportion of the population still rely on handouts of aid from other parts of the world.

This is the same continent from which millions of USD is regularly transferred into foreign bank accounts, the owners of which bank accounts oftentimes dying without having made proper arrangements for the dispersal of their considerable wealth, especially that part of it that is held abroad.

It is Africa from which come buyers of expensive real estate in Europe and America, property paid for in hard cash. Privileged Africans travel to Europe and America to receive medical treatment which they must pay for expensively; all of their children are at schools in Europe. And all this because the same privileged Africans have failed their communities by not ensuring that adequate healthcare and proper education are available at home.

The sad thing is that this unsavoury reality about our continent overshadows the efforts of decent Africans who are striving to make an honest living, doing what they can to elevate those around them. The likes of Mr Moneybags aforesaid, would rather flaunt his wealth than invest it in a way that is beneficial to the generality of his countrymen. And the story seems to be the same wherever you go in Africa..

Naijadude said...

Well I think its conventional wisdom that the couple repays the nice gesture of all those travelling masses whenever they wanna get married in Suriname as well... so there go the college funds, heck even the downpayment for a house!

Nigerians and unnecessary frivolities? Cant be seperated... A filipino got sprayed at a party too, she picked up the money and was so lost "what do I do with this?" ...

Btw, I want you to become my guest of honour... they have 100 pounds note ,dont they? ;)

Anengiyefa said...

Hi Naijadude, of course those newlyweds will be storing up that cash to spray when they attend functions in the future. I was aghast once when my landlady in Lagos approached me to ask for a loan of N10,000..her reason was that she had a party to attend, and this seemed to her to be a perfectly good reason. lol.

Be assured that waiting for me to become your guest of honour will be a very good excuse to keep from marrying. Just tell them that your guest of honour is not yet rich enough, but that when he's ready, he will be chartering an entire Airbus A380 to fly the whole family from Nigeria to wherever the wedding is taking place...pity they don't do Concorde anymore..lol

I can just imagine that poor Filipina being confused and not knowing what to do with the cash, hee hee..Beware of Nigerian parties..

Ms. Catwalq said...

Then they will be avoiding the creditors who come calling to collect on the loan they took out in order to "buy" respect on the dance floor

Anengiyefa said...

Hi Ms. Catwalq, I guess the "respect" is still intact since nobody gets to see or hear of the creditors. :)

Amooti said...

Oga, Kineke o! (In Uganda, we hear "Kinege" and only us can know why we chose to hear it that way!)

Now, I couldnt help laughing my heart out my broda! We see a lot of that stuff in Nigerian movies and am usually quick to dimiss it as purely "Nollywood Screen entertainment!"

But the Nigerians have a way with things.That money can walk back to the pockets of the flamboyant broda in the night, I have seen it in the movies!

Anengiyefa said...

Oga Amooti, you missed out "Igwe"! Your "Kinege" must be "Chineke". Literally the word means God in the Igbo language but it is also used as an exclamation, usually to exress shock or surprise.

I'm a bit dubious about that part where you suggested that the money could grow legs and walk backwards at night, lol.

Nigerians truly have a very strong flamboyant streak. It is this razzmatazz that is so aptly portrayed in Nollywood movies that makes the movies so popular with other Africans I suppose..