A comment (the only one so far!) on party paroles actually inspired this piece. Tmone pointed out that the ‘invited to’ phrase in the dictionary definition of party couldn’t be applied to these parts. It made me smile because the point was quite valid. I’m sure that more than a few of us reading (I’m guilty too!) this have attended one celebration or the other to which they weren’t ‘officially’ invited.
I use the term official quite loosely, since it may have been word of mouth by the celebrant(s) or organisers of the said event. Nowadays, a text message, Facebook mail, email, BlackBerry message and the like could also stand for an official summons to let down your hair. We no longer stand on the ceremony of an invitation card be it the engraved wedding invite or the more quaint ones for birthdays, baby showers, naming, stag, house-warming et al.
There are those that prefer to let out the word through these new ‘official’ channels and it works for them. However, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be a few people not included that don’t turn up. Some prefer word of mouth and also let out the word that ‘extras’ would not be welcome. Whatever method people choose to use, there’s still some element of catering for the mo gbo mo ya crowd. In most cases the fervent wish is that the ‘uninvited’ will not out – number those invited.
Because of the peculiar nature of our society, we cheerfully include these numbers and ensure that even if they turn up everyone will not be deprived or inconvenienced as a result. So the food, drinks, chairs and the like reflect a number with more than enough for official and unofficial guests. Once you gain access to the premises of the event…everyone becomes official i.e. nobody will ask whether you were ‘officially’ invited.
As a result of this casual party culture we rarely RSVP when/if we get invited to events. We sometimes overlook it and decide whether we can turn up or not. On the other hand we may call up a close friend to say we’ll be unable to make their party, we may even extend that courtesy to a colleague at work. This is usually in the event of an absence because the unwritten rule is that nobody calls to say they’ll be coming and with that understanding they just turn up. On the other hand those invitations that we mayn’t consider to be as important to us are usually ignored and the only time it may be mentioned again is if we bump into the celebrant at a future date.
On the other hand in other countries (usually the West) when the invitation is tendered one MUST respond. If you don’t it means you’re not going to attend. The number of responses enables them cater for those that’ll attend. It’s pretty strict and the card also usually states the number of people it admits too. A guest list is also drawn up and if your name isn’t on the list you will not be allowed into the venue.
For some of us with the casual party culture this may seem pretty extreme and we’re probably asking what all the fuss is all about, after it’s only a party. So what, they brought a friend, what’s the big deal? Apparently it is and some of that culture is gradually seeping into the party scene in Nigeria. There are some occasions when the invitation card admits and even if you happen to have ‘procured’ one by whatever means and your name is not on the guest list then chances are that you won’t be admitted. When that’s the case those invited are usually given advance warning to toe the line and formally accept or decline the summons.
Whatever version you choose to organise a party is left to you. The invited and (or) uninvited will trumpet how great (or not) the party was and you’ll know how best to do it the next time. I for one am certain that the era of the ‘mo gbo, mo ya’ is not yet over on the party scene and that they’ll (we!) still be around for some time to come.