The typical Nigerian “owambe” is barely a complete experience if guests haven’t rained money on the celebrant in an almost excessive display of wealth. While most people look forward to this highlight, I was shocked to find out that there are others who’d rather skip the entire show. 

Amid EFCC’s recent clampdown on socialites for spraying money at events, Segun* shares how his mum’s experience with a diabolic relative shaped his interaction with money at social functions. 

As Told To Adeyinka

My earliest memory of my mum getting furious and creating a scene in public was at my 10th birthday party. 20 years later, I still have a vivid picture of what happened.

While dancing on the stage, an aunt from my father’s side came to press ₦50 notes against my forehead. I’m not sure if it was a deliberate attempt on her part, but she wouldn’t put the money anywhere else but my forehead. I remember my mum yanking me off almost immediately and walking off the stage. My aunt was furious, and they both got into a loud argument that almost disrupted the party. My aunt argued that my mum’s action implied she had ill intent against me. My mum, on the other, hand wasn’t willing to take chances.

Years later, I learnt that what happened on my birthday was a traumatic response to my mum’s experience at her wedding. The gist is, an older relative who came from the village pressed money against her head the same way my aunt did at my birthday. My mum fell sick for weeks after her wedding and was hospitalised.  The doctors couldn’t say exactly what was wrong and all the treatment did nothing to improve her condition.

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Things only got better after my granny involved an Islamic cleric who revealed they had to find and discard “bad money” from a close relative sprayed on her wedding day. Many relatives attended the wedding and since my mum was barely conscious, she couldn’t tell the family members whom she suspected. Remember, she was hospitalised almost immediately after her wedding, so all the money from the wedding was still in a bag. It was hard to identify which money was from whom so the cleric suggested giving everything to charity. She was discharged about a week later and the doctors described her recovery as “miraculous”. 

That experience shook my mum’s core, and it shaped her interaction with money at social events. If the money isn’t in an envelope or sprayed into a collection bag or basket, my mum doesn’t want it. This has also rubbed off on me and my siblings over the years. We might not be as extreme as our mum, but if someone aims for our head or forehead while spraying money, we find ways to dodge it or remove ourselves from that situation. 

In my case, I also avoid doing the same to people. I’d rather put the money in a brown envelope and give it to the celebrant, spray it in the collection bag or just ignore it entirely. 

READ ALSO: Zikoko’s Guide to Avoid Spraying Money at Parties



Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.