“Owanbe” or “Owambe” is defined by urban dictionary as a large grandiose party thrown by Nigerians that involves a lot of food, dancing, loud music and spraying (the Nigerian act of throwing money on a dancing person); it is seen as a way of appreciating the celebrant. Owanbe’s come with highly expensive celebration materials, bags, trinkets, shoes to match etc. The Owanbe tradition is one tradition that has stuck and even seems to be spreading like wildfire among Nigerians. The major components of a successful Owanbe party include Aso-ebi, juju/fuji music, different varieties of food and lots of alcohol.
Personally, I think the most important aspect in planning an Owanbe party is the date you pick. Most times, these parties tend to fall on weekends to be able to ensure that people are free from other engagements, next thing is the Aso-ebi which could range from Ankara to lace materials, ever heard the popular saying “o wo Ankara o je semo” i.e. if you are not putting on Ankara, no semo for you. I have attended parties where there was an obvious discrimination between those putting on the Aso-ebi and others not putting it on, especially when it comes to the distribution of party souvenirs.
Another important aspect of Owanbe parties is the food, YES the FOOD!!!! Nigerians would say the success of a party hinges on how tasty the Jollof-Rice is, and this is very true. One of the star attractions of Owanbe parties is the variety in the food served at these parties ranging from Jollof rice, moin-moin, porridge, Amala etc. Another star attraction is the abundance of alcohol, which goes a long way in helping people lose their inhibitions and produces a jovial and raucous atmosphere expected at Owanbe parties.
One aspect of Owanbe, i’m not totally comfortable with is the spraying of money on celebrants. I feel people tend to abuse this aspect of the Yoruba culture which is supposed to be a means of showing appreciation, but most people tend to see it as an opportunity to show off and outdo others, as if there will be a prize at the end of the day for the most outlandish spender. If you attend Owanbes in Nigeria, you’ll tend to notice certain oddly dressed individuals, with sharp contrasts between their choice outfits and what others are putting on, they have mastered the art of blending in. they are called the “Mogba-Moyas” (people who attend parties without receiving invitations)
Some would dare to say Owanbe parties are synonymous to the gregarious and eccentric nature of the Yoruba people.I think it’s just a proof of our joyous and celebratory nature, one thing responsible for the growing appeal of Owanbe parties is that they offer an opportunity for people to relax, socialise, network and just make merry. Some even claim that there is something therapeutic about attending an Owanbe party. You get to meet people from different works of like in a relaxed and jovial environment, and this tends to make bonding easier, there have been many cases of people meeting their life partners at one Owanbe or the other. So when you are planning your next Owanbe, carefully consider these factors, and also note that moderation is key.
The Party industry in Nigeria has evolved into a multi-billion Naira industry in Nigeria, with event vendors raking in millions every weekend.