Why do we ‘look at faces’ before serving food at parties? – Peju Akande

Why do we ‘look at faces’ before serving food at parties? – Peju Akande

Saturday as seems to be the case with me these days found me all dolled up and scooping party jollof rice into my mouth while swaying slightly to the band playing heavy gbedu at the corner. Yes, my friend and I were at the wedding of a mutual friend.

Like most weddings particularly on this side of Naija, the hall, the guests and the celebrants, being the bride and groom were decked to the teeth in all finery. Plenty of good food and drinks flowed from corner to corner. We got our plates of food less than five minutes after we arrived the hall. I felt good because I didn’t expect to be quickly fed.

Anyway, what more was there to do than tuck in? I did and looked around, some people were being skipped.

Fellow Nigerians, why is it that you get invited to a wedding, legitimately, fa;  you dress up nicely, too, or well, you wear what you have, abi?  You show up but because you don’t know the person in charge of serving food, you get skipped, over and over again while everyone else gets served on that table or the next table as the case may be.

Bhet why?

Nigerians are becoming notorious for this wicked act. I saw a few guests that were skipped and I felt bad for them.

I’m quite sure the celebrant provided food or paid for food to go round to all guests, yet some mean spirited servers, caterers, family members, so called helps at parties just keep pushing the food and drinks to the faces they know.

These people are evil and won’t make heaven! (Assuming I have a say in the matter)

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Whereas some guests were fed like four times. It was a Yoruba wedding na and nobody does parties like the Yoruba people. Any wonder why we are called ‘The fun loving people of West Africa by Encyclopaedia Britannica?

So there’s always variety at a Yoruba party and the to-die-for Jollof rice is the most basic food served. There usually are other exotics choices like peppered fried meat, snails, gizzard and ponmo, yes o. They serve ewa agonyin, ofada rice and porridge, add barbecued meat and fish plus a sprinkling of Tuwo here and there and all the other medemede small chops… nobody parties like the Yorubas, I swear.

So there I was, quite content with my jollof rice and amazing pieces of meat but I couldn’t help noticing, the guys at our table, same table fa, being served plate after plate of – Yam porridge, ewa agonyin, then abula and not once did they look up from gorging their faces with food to observe the plight of their less fortunate guests, who were only given water and yes… jollof rice. You guys will not make heaven, o!

I tried to get a few servers to go the way of those who weren’t even as privileged as I was, but they took one look at the guests and moved on with the food laden tray to some other parts of the hall.

Not nice Nigerians, not nice at all!

Me thinks, the few of us who get served, going forward, should begin to stand up for those who have to look stone faced every time the servers march past with food to particular corners.

Now, you’ll wonder, why haven’t guests staged protests and walked out of the hall when they don’t get served food? I don’t know. I just know that I have also been a victim of this preferential treatment at parties, where you must keep a smile plastered on your face to make it seem like your being there isn’t because of the food but to honour the person who invited you.

Ha, really!

I’m guessing this nastiness didnt start today because I remember how, growing up, every time we had to go to a party, no matter who was organising it, my mother would make us eat before leaving the house. Many times, we would skip the meals, telling ourselves we would gorge at the party.

You know kids have no guile, we disgraced mother on one of those occasions when we failed to eat what she provided because we had figured that there will be plenty to eat. Then we got to the party and got skipped, once, twice and by the third time, my sister burst into tears, loud wails that got everyone’s attention.

The hostess came forward, ‘what is the matter?’

‘They have not given us food!’

From the corner of my eye, I saw my mother sink deep into her seat. She was with a few friends and I could see her face turn plastic.

I knew my sister would be dead when we got home.

She was half dead on the way home from mother’s harsh scolding and the rest of us weren’t spared. Mother reasoned that the ‘disgrace’ could well have come from anyone of us.

So I learned to always feed my kids before going to any party whatsoever because these kids don’t warn you before they begin to ‘display’. Let them not come and go and open my rump to public view, hummn.

So, back to my party o;  we sat quietly with the typical, awon boys, the Yoruba version of guys out for fun; with their dark glasses sitting prettily on their fat noses, all of them ‘decked out’ in various types of modern danshiki and fila and agbada. They were a joy to behold. You could tell who invited them, a sibling of the celebrant, which meant they knew the caterer, and which then meant that they got served four different types of dishes, while my friend and I held fast and long to our plates of jollof and friend rice.

Thankfully the rice was super, so I didn’t mind that the caterer, with her massive rump and oily face skipped me, once, twice and thrice with porridge, smoked fish and chips and something that looked like barbecued meat. It seemed to me her only mission was to satisfy the boys at our table. Days have passed o, but I’m finding it hard to forgive her. I know you’ll say, ‘Haba, Pj be thankful, shebi you got jollof rice!’

I’m glaring back at you; ‘So what? Was the porridge and peppered snail for them because they paid to be there? Don’t vex me biko!’

And you know, I couldn’t ask to be given porridge or any of the food being served the others, ‘cos then they would tell you ‘Haa, it’s finished’ and they would proceed, few minutes after that barefaced lie to smuggle a plate of porridge to one more guest at your table.

God is seeing their wicked acts!

I’ll tell you a trick I have learned to check this kind of partiality at parties; should you get invited to these parties, even if you know the celebrant like the back of your hand, eat at home before leaving, some nasty caterer or server may just have it against you just ‘cos you look like someone they don’t like.

  1. Should you need to go with a few friends, keep a cooler of food and meat in your car, you may just be able to get one plate of rice for the whole group; it happens even in the most organised parties. Remember, your host or hostess may be too engrossed with other things to notice every detail.
  2. Buy your drinks and keep in the car, some servers are just plain nasty
  3. Above all, stand up for those who don’t get served. Yes…after you are fed and full, be a good guest and at least enquire from people sharing your table if they got served, huh?

It’s a party people, we came for fun and food and there’s no shame in that!

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