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Atoke: Nigerian Festivities & the Crime of One Piece of Meat & Half Moin-Moin

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Atoke Profile PhotoHave you ever gone to a Nigerian party where food is flowing, the drinks keeps getting refreshed, even the sound system is working without a glitch? It’s the dream of all Nigerian parties. You’re happy; it’s such a fantastic event that you don’t have to make eye contact with the waiters before they know that our table hasn’t been served.

There’s an assortment of drinks on your table, and before you finish going through the different things laid out before you, there’s another set of vendors passing by – different uniforms, but same purpose – to ensure you stuff your bellies till you go forth and testify about how much that party rocked. There’s everything at this party…from jollof rice to pounded yam, with the added twist of a nice chocolate fountain, amazing deserts, small chops, grilled meat kebabs,  cookies, shawarma, cat fish – EVERYTHING that can make a party LIT!

It is Nigerian party nirvana!

Now picture for a second: a party where the caterers put one piece of meat to accompany your jollof rice. Just one! Or maybe a crumbled part of fish tail. Oh the horror! Instead of one full moin moin, your host, in cahoots with the caterer, decides that the you are only deserving of half a piece! *gasp*

The travesty!

Nigerians like food. For some reason, food is the unity by which we base the success of failure of a lot of circumstances we find ourselves in. And since we’re known for our parties and festivities, food is a very valuable currency that cannot be in short supply – if one is to be successfully rated, as having pulled off a substantial fete.

You don’t believe me?

Look at this poll recently conducted on Twitter by user @Koye10
Koye10 Poll

52 % of people said they’d attend a wedding because of small chops! FOOD… the yardstick of success.

So, when a host serves half of a moin moin, or one piece of meat, it is generally viewed as an insult to the guest, or an indication of absence of capacity on the part of the host.

Why is it important that you serve your guests so much food, than their bellies can take? Here are a few things I posit as the cause:

1: As Nigerians, we like to oppress the next person. It’s somewhere in our DNA that we just have to compete and show the next person that we’re more than they are. It doesn’t matter that we haven’t really thought the ‘why’ through. Nope! What is important is that we have to “give dem”

2: Flowing from point 1, we really care about what people’s opinions of us – especially in terms of material things. It’s not that you really want to arrive at your event in a horse drawn carriage – heck you don’t even like stuff from the Victorian times. However, if it’s going to get people talking, you’re willing to do it.

3: We are wasteful. At these parties where so much is spread on the plate, there’s only so much your stomach can take. So even if you’re given two pieces of meat, one piece of fish, one piece of chicken… how much can you eat? Pressed down, shaken together and running over. It doesn’t matter that we’ll scrape it all into the black trash bag, just scoop, scoop, and scoop some more into the plates.

Given the current state of the economy – and everyone is feeling it, because it goes across every social strata – why are we being wasteful? Why is it such an atrocious crime to be served one piece of meat!

Someone said we continue to do this because it is simply the way WE ARE. Essentially, waste is culturally sanctioned and rubber-stamped.

But let me hop off this high horse quickly and get real! Who wants to leave their house for an event,  if it’s not to have maximum enjoyment? Imagine driving all the way from Oshodi to Oniru Landmark events centre. I spend another 20 minutes trying to find parking – possibly tip someone 500 Naira to ensure my side mirrors don’t go missing before I get back. Then, after all that, you can’t guarantee me at least one full piece of moin-moin? Haba now?!

There’s a saying in Yoruba about how if you’re not capable of doing something, then don’t do it! Essentially, it is culturally endorsed that what is worth doing at all, is worth doing well. And if you’re going to have a party, heck why not just go all out and max out?! Our people believe that if you’re going to do something, then do it with a bang!

But here’s the fine line I’d like to draw, and it’s really about the reasons and motivation behind every action. If you’re doing something in a certain way because you’re worried that people will complain about not getting a chance to eat grilled fish and asun at your party, please remember that whether you do it, or you don’t, there will always be someone who will complain.

You can never please everybody. Please don’t encourage waste (of your resources) because you want to trend. You will trend for one day, one month… MAX and someone else will come and overtake you in the trendsetting.

Also, if you find yourself served with half a piece of moin moin, and dissatisfied, please just go home, and make your own. Stop going about complaining about the food you were not served at someone else’s party. It speaks more of your lack,  than the host’s –  if your biggest issue is the unavailability of food.

Let’s live, love & not be hungry!

Photo Credit: Charity Adetiba-Howard

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website for more information.

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