Owanbe, in Nigeria, is something that can never be overstated.
It was once upon a time, a festival that occupied a central place in traditional African society. But the celebrations are now transformed to a whole new level. They no longer occur at certain times of the year; they now occur every Saturday. Today, no Nigerian weekend is complete without the fun of Owanbe.
Although it is an expensive celebration, it comes with a show of luxury, lavish spending, color, extravaganza, paparazzi, lots of food, music, dance, networking, and merriment, so some would go out of their way to make it worthwhile. The origin is in Western Nigeria, particularly the Yoruba culture.
Ówànbę is a Yoruba word derived from the sequence Ó-wà-ní-ibę, which means “it is here,” but the connotative meaning is “the party is happening here.”
Usually, when a Nigerian mentions “Owanbe,” that person is referring to a typical Yoruba party, but now most people use the term Owanbe to generally describe a Nigerian party regardless of the tribe or ethnic group.
Common types of Owanbe include weddings, birthdays, retirement parties, coronation ceremonies, a celebration of life (burial of the elderly), etc.
An interesting fact about Owanbe is Aso Ebí (clothing in uniform).
When a date is set for Owanbe, the celebrant will sell a cloth (native) with the matching headgear; All participants in the event are meant to wear it; this fabric is called Aso Ebi.
It is easy to point out friends and family of the celebrant at the party because you will always find them dressed in Aso Ebi. For example, at a wedding, all of the bride’s friends can wear Orange and gold, the bride’s family can wear white and gold, and the groom’s friends can wear black and rose gold. It can be Aso-Oke (traditional hand-woven material), cotton, damask, lace guinea brocade, or even waxed fabric (Ankara). Wearing Aso Ebi has its advantages; many times, it dictates the type of treatment the wearer receives at the party, especially when it comes to food and souvenirs.
The women are the ones that wow us with a variety of extravagant Aso Ebi styles that are often posted on Instagram and featured in fashion magazines.
The tribe of the celebrants generally determines the species of Aso Ebi. For example, suppose it is an Igbo wedding. In that case, Aso Abi will be: a George wrapper and a blouse with a standard headgear(Sego), but if it is a Yoruba wedding, we will have lace and an Aso Ofi headgear to grace the occasion.
In typical Owanbe, you will find killer women in their beautiful outfits, men in Atiku, lots of food, drink, and souvenirs for everyone. People spraying money, a Disk Jockey (DJ), and a live band to entertain people with music.
Nigerian women and Owanbe are inseparable, except, of course, when the world has finally ended.
However, some people haven’t realized that Owanbe doesn’t have to be so elaborate for people to attend.
Owanbe is made for people to celebrate and make merry; it shouldn’t feel like a competition. Whether it was a big party or not, everyone is meant to be happy, and it’s a way to meet distant relatives and highly recognized dignitaries.