What do you do when three friends send you invitations to attend their wedding ceremonies holding on the same day? Decide on one to attend, right? What if the three ceremonies are holding in the same town? Would you still play favourites? What if one person was a leader at your undergraduate fellowship (marrying another former fellowship executive), one was your undergraduate classmate (marrying a “classmate” from civil engineering), and the other was a work colleague that served at the same organisation during your national service year? You now see my conundrum when three friends invited me to Ile-Ife, home of my undergraduate alma mater.
I left Ife in 2014 after completing my mechanical engineering degree at the famous Obafemi Awolowo University. After my convocation ceremony in December 2014, the next time I would see that quiet town was in December 2015 when I strolled through to see some friends on my way to two wedding ceremonies in Shagamu and Abeokuta. Hence, this tripartite trip to Ife was destined to be a weekend of reminiscences.
On my way to Ife on Friday night, I quickly made a note of the different times and venues to ensure I could see all at a glance instead of being separate calendar entries. This note looked like this:
Engagement (7am): Venue S1, Mokuro, Ile-Ife
Church (Anglican, 9am): Venue S2, Ayetoro, Ile-Ife
Reception: Venue S3, Opa, Ile-Ife
Engagement (7am): Venue F1, Opa, Ile-Ife
Church (RCCG, 11am): Venue F2, Opa, Ile-Ife
Reception: Venue F1, Opa, Ile-Ife
Engagement (7am): Venue T1, Ondo Road, Ile-Ife
Church (CAC, 10:30am): Venue T2, Ondo Road, Ile-Ife
Reception: Venue T3, Ife-Ibadan Expressway, Ile-Ife
If you are wondering about the church names next to their respective start times, I did that knowing some churches tend to hold lengthy wedding services. Hence, noting the churches allowed me to guesstimate how much floating time I had to reach different venues.
On entering Ife at around 10:30pm thanks to a combination of bad roads, a dysfunctional bus, and an old driver scared of dying young, my highest priority aim was the acquisition of “Risky”, OAU’s own “Currywurst”. What Currywurst is to Germany, and what Haggis is to Scotland, is what Risky is to Great Ife. For the uninitiated, Risky is simply bread and fried egg(s) but you need a bite to understand why OAU students would queue to buy Risky burger.
The next morning, I headed towards Venue S1 intending to attend Seyi’s engagement ceremony. As I reached the place and began greeting some friends, I was informed they were just about starting. The groom and close male friends were about to dance into the venue and I joined them. How naive I was! Later I would realise that the pidgin English translation of “How naive I was” is “Na who even send me”. It took a few moments for me to find myself in front of a mat facing the bride’s parents, and then I heard some Yoruba sentences but picked “dobale keta” (“prostrate three times”). That’s when I realised I had been railroaded into joining the groom’s team of prostrating male friends. Since it was too late to run away or enter the ground, I had to go down with my newly sewn attire. Fortunately, the mat wasn’t large enough to accommodate all of us, and earlier rainfall had made the ground muddy. That’s how my outfit got sanctified by soft mud. On noticing my predicament, the “alaga” (woman-in-charge) tapped me and another lucky fella and told us to squat instead of prostrating, but the redecoration had already been done.
The rest of the abridged event went smoothly, lasting barely 35 minutes, then I joined Seyi to his hotel room for him to switch into his church wedding suit before heading to the church. The priest’s 20-minute sermon made me so happy as I baulk at unnecessarily lengthy sermons during weddings. By 10:16 after they had signed the marriage register, I quickly left for Venue F2 to attend Funmbi’s wedding, reaching there just as the bride was to march in. All the time, I was keeping tabs on the other two ceremonies. By 12 noon, after Funmbi and his bride had been joined, I left for Venue S3 to attend Seyi’s reception.
Seyi’s reception turned out (as expected) to be a reunion of members of the Anglican Students Fellowship spanning generations from around 1999 to date. As a former fellowship president, this was literally expected. I got to see people I had not seen in two to six years. Earlier that day when I left his wedding ceremony, I wondered whether to change my view of weddings as an unnecessary waste of money seeing that they seem to serve a reconnection function, giving people a reason to see again after years of separation.
I joined the throng of friends dancing with the couple into the reception hall, greeted lots of persons I knew and sat to quickly assuage my rumbling stomach with some rice. I had earlier run into a friend at Funmbi’s wedding who then followed me to Seyi’s reception since he was also a former fellowship member, so after the greetings, we left to return to Funmbi’s wedding, getting there just in time to take pictures of the newly wedded couple as they marched out of the church, and then join in the wedding photographs. From there, we switched to the reception venue (F1), which was just adjacent the church. After taking pictures with former classmates who attended and downloading a nice offering of amala, it was time to head to Venue T3 for Toyin’s reception as recent intelligence suggested the CAC wedding finally decided to end a few minutes to 2pm. But first, I had to wait for a female friend from Seyi’s wedding who I had not seen in over four years.
This friend came over to Funmbi’s reception, partook in the offered amala, and then joined me to Toyin’s reception at Venue T3. You know, I always knew I was a good evangelist. We got to T3 just in time for me to take a picture with Toyin and her groom. Then the catching up with this friend continued from where we stopped at Seyi’s and Funmbi’s receptions. At this point, another male friend from Seyi’s wedding was bored with being alone in Ife and called to know where I was. He was so happy to join us at Toyin’s reception.
After a final round of catching up at a nearby restaurant, the three wedding attendees departed having concluded it had indeed been a memorable day. If you read to this point, you would have seen why I felt an urge to write about my trip to Ile-Ife. The only downside to the trip was the worsened state of roads in Ife, and my clothes and shoes redecorated with mud. However, that is a small price to pay for the joy of reminiscing.
Image Credit: 209magazine.com