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Committee of Friends Palaver by Chukwuemeka Oluka

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You hear the Nigerian slang, ‘palava’ and immediately, you sense commotion or trouble!

Yes, call it drama, confusion or madness and you won’t be out of place.

Anyways, when the words, ‘committee of friends’ are mentioned, what readily comes to your mind? Wedding preparation, right? Well, the truth is that a committee of friends for a wedding is a group of friends who meet to make plans and decisions for an intending couple for the success of their wedding.

Such a committee take up the roles event planners are now paid for. Think of it as event planning, but with your friends rather than the conventional event planners. There is no gainsaying that a committee of friends take away enough burden from an intending couple as they prepare for their wedding. Then, why is it a palava? why are opinions divided about having a committee of friends? You will find out later.

Selection into these committees isn’t just by mistake or by chance. It stems from those who have the credentials for doing great things. They are those who have been seen by their peers to have contributed positively to the plight of others. They are those adjudged and proven to be pretty dependable. Therefore, it is an honourable thing to be recognised as a member of a committee of friends. As a groom or bride, you sure need a committee of friends for your wedding, don’t you?

This committee will be made up of very close friends that would support you to have a remarkable wedding. Plenty of activities will consume your time and the likelihood of you forgetting some important aspects of the wedding during the preparation cannot be overlooked. So, the committee is there for the rescue. If you are a member of a social club, then, you may not find it difficult to get members drafted into your committee of friends. Somehow, these duties are enshrined in the constitution of these clubs.

Aside from wedding preparations, a committee of friends can also be helpful when planning for other social events like funerals, thanksgiving, anniversaries, birthdays and graduation ceremonies. However, the likelihood of a celebrant having a committee of friends planning his or her social event is more for wedding ceremonies than other social events. This is just the situation in Nigeria and that is why this writing focuses more on wedding festivities.

Usually, it is expected that the celebrants decide on what the role(s) the committee of friends constituted would be in the course of the wedding. The committee can assist on, before or after the special day of the celebrant. These roles could be to provide logistics and supplies needed. Supplies can be food, drinks and other catering services. They can also provide aesthetics and decorations for the wedding venue. It is a no-brainer that the groomsmen and bridal train are formed from the constituted committee of friends.

One job description that can’t be ruled out for the committee of friends is helping intending couples source money for their wedding. We all know how important it is to give someone who is planning any event money. These monies can be gotten through voluntary donations amongst the committee of friends. They can also task themselves with some agreed amounts.

Again, these roles usually arise from the question, ‘where do you want us to come in; how do we help?’ Sadly, in response to this question, the trend now becomes a situation where the intending couple hands over their wedding (wish) list to the committee and then goes to bed. The committee is left with performing the magic of achieving a successful wedding.

Would-be couples these days become inconsiderate. They push the cost of their ‘dream’ weddings to the committee of friends. Such couples want their wedding to be the talk of the town so much so to the detriment of their friends and peers, who many a time go borrowing to please them.

You may think the issue with committees of friends is a thing for the groom alone; isn’t it? Well, wait till you hear that some brides pick expensive aso-ebi for their friends. Aso-ebi means uniform or colour-coordinated traditional clothes for the family during special occasions. These clothes are worn to show support for the celebrants. In recent days, aso-ebi has evolved to also include close friends. Friends buy such materials to support the bride. You hear outrageous stories of N50,000 worth of aso-ebi, N70,000 aso-ebi and so on. And this may not include the cost of sewing.

It has even been muttered in some quarters that the sale of aso-ebi is a disguise by some brides to raise money from their friends to fund their dream wedding. You will be shocked to learn these aso-ebis may just be worn only once. Yes, once! What about the bridal showers? Friends of the bride are caught up in the euphoria that their friend, the bride is finally getting hooked to her Prince Charming to the point they spend their savings and earnings on bridal shower gifts. Investigations reveal that some of these girls go all out of their way to do so just to belong.

Sometimes due to the demands placed on the committee of friends by the intending couples, these committees oftentimes break into different camps leading to disagreements and confusion. For instance, a committee chairman on the mandate to achieve a lavish wedding for the intending couple may begin to bully committee members into making outrageous promises, pledges and donations not minding members’ financial strengths or that of the couple. The craze for socialite weddings these days thus become the bane of committees of friends.

Already, this yuletide is witnessing a lot of weddings. Unknown to us in one of the weddings, the groom had arranged for a Master of Ceremony (MC). One of us originally in the committee of friends, was a professional MC and had been tasked by the committee with taking charge of the day’s proceedings. Committee members knew their job descriptions.

Now, after the exchange of marital vows and nuptial blessings, all geographical compasses were redirected from the church to the reception hall.

Round and round, the tables were set. The atmosphere in the hall was lively and electrifying. Guests nodded their heads to the rhythm of ‘Levels’ by Flavour. But stepping their feet into the hall, the committee of friends’ body language changed. Lips were pressed. For some, their teeth were grinding while their eyes somewhat became squeezed. Others held their arms in akimbo as they saw their jaws drop with mouths widely opened. Side-to-side headshakes became their involuntary actions.

This is not what was planned,’ they said to one another.

The activities in the hall were entirely outside the plan of the committee of friends. Their shadows were directly under their feet before they walked into the hall. It was exactly noon. This meant they were not late. So, what must have informed the drama that greeted them?

Eche, who was the professional MC in the committee of friends group saw the groom’s arranged MC caressing the microphone and taking charge of proceedings already with a paper held in the hand. The paper supposedly contained the agenda.

If you understand the Nigerian wedding landscape, you will realize that the MC holds the livewire to the flow of the Naira and how many would fly to the ground at wedding receptions. So, having two MCs for the day without proper protocol amounted to having two captains in a boat. The couples had their eyes set on the amount of money their wedding would fetch them. So, we later understood the game!

The committee of friends’ Chairman summoned members outside for a brief talk. Did the groom get the message upon our return to the hall? Was he monitoring our moves? We were to maintain our cool and tag along, so I doubt if he knew of any impending drama.

As time progressed, items on the agenda took their turn. The couples had their time on the dance floor. The hall’s giant clock ticked and its hands were spread at 180 degrees already; the shorter pointed eastwards, while the long pointed to the west. At that moment, some guests were seen yawning. Others started to wear long faces. Despite the loud music, one could hear the sound of intestinal movements, all yearning for food. The committee of friends had abandoned their duties and job descriptions to register their displeasure and disappointment to the couple, especially the groom.

It was Item 7 on the agenda. We let the messing up with the sharing and distribution of drinks continue. The groom looked in the direction of his in-laws and noticed their tables were naked. Not even a bottle of water was served to them. At that point, he sprang up, took off his jacket, flung it on his best man, folded the sleeves of his immaculate white-coloured shirt and left the stage. Oh yes, he left his bride to the company of his best man. He carried drinks in crates and started distributing them to guests.

To save some blushes, my friend and I, who were assigned the sharing of food had to collect the drinks from him and then take over the sharing and distribution of drinks. This was an embarrassing moment. Did I tell you the make-up artist was seen applying extra concealer to cover the tear marks shed by the bride? Yes, she shed a bucket full of tears and the best man could be seen cuddling the bride to console her.

That was how the cookie crumbled!

Well, the ugly situation will forever remain a dent on the couple, especially the groom. It will never be erased easily from the subconscious minds of his in-laws. One of them will eventually remind him of how he almost starved them of food on the day he married their daughter. Yet, nothing embarrasses a (Nigerian) man more than when he has no bragging rights before his in-laws.

There shall continue to be more drama until intending couples stop playing around and learn to live within their means. This is because there has never been an award for the best wedding. After every wedding ceremony comes marriage. This is where the crux of the matter lies; not weddings.

Instances abound where some couples eventually result to borrowing money after their wedding ceremony simply because they failed to cut their coat according to their cloth. These kinds of a couple would rush to ‘pepper’ the viewing public on social media with their lavish and talk-of-the-town kind of wedding. But after the wedding ceremony, they steer clear of social media because they can no longer sustain the outlandish lifestyle they have portrayed before the public.

With these developments, it is evident that ‘committees of friends’ oftentimes have never been a palava. The palava lies within the couples. Greedy couples.

The idea of having a committee of friends plan an event for a celebrant is one that has truly come to stay in our society. Therefore, it becomes instructive that Nigerians understand the true purpose behind forming a committee of friends, be it for weddings, anniversaries, funerals and so on. Its benefits can never be overemphasized if only such committees are used for the right purpose(s). when this happens, opinions will no longer be divided on the need to form a committee of friends for social events because it has come to be.

About The Writer

Chukwuemeka Oluka is a graduate of Electronic and Computer Engineering from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. He is a passionate writer, a research enthusiast and a COREN certified Engineer. He writes in from Enugu, tweets @Mekus_Oluka and can be reached via “write2oluka@gmail.com

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