Alibaba: Guest list (The Book of Ali)

If our friendship was not strong enough for you to nuture it – during those years that I faced trials – then it means that our friendship has run out of validity period. Don’t pretend you still have connection. Visit a friendship centre or else…

Anyone who grabs hold of a guest list in Nigeria can tell a lot from the list. The class of people, the venue, the food and drinks that would be served, the kind of circles the host could 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 when it comes to this. They could 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.

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, Ph.D. 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 guest list.

If you just assuming an office; OK for better understanding, let’s say the Office of the Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria, you would be amazed at how many friends you have. Friends who may not have even sent you a text message, or of whom a call from them would have been a miracle a year before the appointment…  They pop up from everywhere.

One of the most amusing aspects of these ‘friends’ who disappear when things aren’t so rosy is that they are experts at breaking the ice when they re-emerge. You would hear things like, “I lost my phone, and have been trying to locate your number to call you.” Or they just launch into attack to put you on the defense, “Ol’ boy, where you go hide? I lost all my phone contacts and I have been trying to reach you.”, “Did you change your numbers?”, “Did you delete me from your phone or blocked me? Every time I tried calling my call never goes through. I just said okay 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 . Fairweather Friend are quarrelling. You, being innocent, would be caught of guard and reply, “Me? Why?”

“Well, 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’ four years ago. But now…

Guess what? Your new appointment is the reason for the total recall and renewed familiarity. 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. They always have a crafty 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.

Some people take it for granted that they are a permanent fixture and feature on your guest list. Fafafaaaaa foul!

If our friendship was not strong enough for you to nuture it – during those years that I faced trials – then it means that our friendship has run out of validity period. Don’t pretend you still have connection. Visit a friendship centre or else…

Friends? There are some friends that are worse than enemies. They may mean well. But be rest assured you may fall into that well. These same friends form the main people on the guest 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! These committee are known for removing names from other people’s list. Such names, they unanimously agree that they don’t qualify to party with them. Their actions end up leaving the host with a host of people to apologize to after the event. Nuisance!

Which brings me to the next question. Who makes the guest list and how are those on the list selected?

People who add value, plain and simple. However, some are invited for that “just so you know I am still standing” feel. Especially when those 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 guest 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 guest 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 guest list BY MISTAKE. Woe betide the person who tells oga that 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 someone off a guest list.

Bet you already know contractors, hustlers and political apologists are the greatest prostitutes when it comes to drawing up a guest list. To the ordinary eye, the list may appear to be a mix 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 guest list can sometimes do more than a HAVARD degree. Trust me, I know.

There is no guest list without a corresponding 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 guests that the oga doesn’t want to go through the trouble explaining who they are to madam.  They just show up at the event in the chosen colours, no invitation in hand, and life is good.

Interestingly, it’s only in Nigeria, that a guest receives an invitation, not confirm receipt or attendance, yet show up at the event… with an entourage of 3 or more people, when the IV card clear says, “Card Admits One”.

This piece will be incomplete if I fail to mention the friends of people on the guest list, you know, the friends of a friend (apologies to Facebook) who just assume they were omitted from the list in error, and just show up 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 guest list, but when they do show up, the host profusely apologizes to them, “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 four years ago, my wife left her bank job. The number of “hello ma, just said to call and say hi” calls reduced. Even birthday calls, texts, 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 three years ago.

I just feel like asking some of them, “Where is your guest list for the past nearly four years, DEAR FRIEND?



About the author: I am a lover of anything creative. I admire cerebral people and writers whose creative depths take you to places unknown. I love kids, waffles, cream caramel, shoes, ties, pocket squares, jeans and Polo Tshirts, the 5Bs… amongst other things. – Alibaba ~ Alibaba Blogs at The Book of Ali from where this post was culled.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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One comment

  1. Marvellous humour in this with real truth.

    Plenty sense and alot to learn from this. I would not like to be classed as a friend who shows up only when there is a party or new office appointment for personal benefits.

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail