LOUD WHISPERS: Alhaja Bucknor @70

There was a video in circulation recently, about Alhaja Oluwatoyin Bucknor in London who was celebrating her 70th birthday. At some point during the celebration, Alhaja took the microphone and bemoaned the fact that there were a number of guests present who had defied her wishes with regards to the purchase of her Aso Ebi for the celebration. They had somehow found their way into the party and their presence was not welcome. She therefore proceeded to rain curses on the guests who were seated and eating her food while they had no right to be there. The curses included not ever attaining the age of 70 years and the food they were eating to choke them, amongst other unkind words. It seemed as if guests were so angry, that even those who were in the Aso Ebi stormed out. It is unheard of for a celebrant to turn on her own guests in such a spectacular fashion. Alhaja has since apologized for her unbecoming utterances. Anyone can make a mistake, and as Alhaja said in her apology video, she was angry and overwhelmed, so perhaps we should take her word for it that she did not mean to literally curse people at her own event.

Many untoward things happen on days of celebration, but the celebrants are always advised to look the other way and keep smiling. You notice tables of guests unattended with no food or drinks in sight. The decorations look tacky, not like what you chose from the decorator’s colorful brochure. The band leader arrives hours late, leaving his band boys to perform on his majestic behalf. Your mother/mother-in law/sister is on the warpath, screaming and shouting at something or someone, causing an embarrassing scene. The Best Man is drunk and the Maid of Honour has shown up in a dress with all her boobs hanging out. I can’t count the number of times I have felt like exploding at one of my own events due to the carelessness of those entrusted with responsibilities, but indulging in a meltdown is totally out of the question because what is the point of a celebration if you ruin the day for yourself and others. I have seen brides, mothers of brides and mothers of grooms in tears because their meticulous planning had been subverted by others. I would encourage them to just keep smiling and would joke that when the photographs of the event come out, you don’t want to look like an evil Queen, scowling and frowning. You want to see photographs of your event and be happy seeing your smiles and laughter. I hope there are enough photographs of Alhaja Bucknor smiling at her party to make up for her displays of displeasure.

 My thoughts about this episode in London are not about holding brief for Alhaja Bucknor. Was she right to rain curses and abuse on her guests? Definitely not. Was it becoming of a 70-year-old to use such language? Of course, it was not. Where the guests right to feel angry at her words? Yes, no one should leave their house to receive insults at an event to wish someone well. However, did Alhaja Bucknor have any justification for her unseemly outburst? I believe she did. Let us take a look at her invitation card. There was an advisory on the card as follows:

  • No sharing of Aso Ebi to avoid being bounced
  • No Access Card, No Entry
  • Don’t sit on the chair if your name is not written on the table. To avoid being embarrassed. This is due to the capacity of hall
  • Underaged not allowed
  • Strictly by invitation

Apart from the first vague instruction about the ‘sharing of Aso Ebi’, the rest of the stipulations are self-explanatory. While we may think that Alhaja made so much of a fuss about the Aso Ebi, it made it look like she was bitter about all the money she lost because her guests ‘gamed the system’, it is important to note that at the end of the day, this was about respecting the wishes of a party host. Some people have argued that Aso Ebi is not compulsory so it should not have caused so much of a problem. Yes, Aso Ebi is definitely not compulsory, and many people do not buy it often or at all, but this is what Alhaja wanted for her event. Alhaja wanted her guests dressed in the Aso Ebi of her choice. She wanted her guests to come with Access Cards and sit on chairs at tables that had been prepared for them. She had made arrangements for all her guests, but somehow, the hall was full and there were guests stranded outside with Access Cards and wearing Aso Ebi. Something was of course wrong somewhere and Alhaja was right to be angry.

With all due respect, many of us have deplorable manners. When we receive invitations to events, we do not RSVP, we arrive late, we do not take our invitation cards along, we do not consider it necessary (a lot of times) to take a gift along for celebrants and we often take other guests in tow without duly informing the celebrant in advance. We also get annoyed when souvenirs are being given out and we demand not only for ourselves (who made no contribution whatsoever) but we also fight for the uninvited guests we took along.

The next time we get an invitation to an event, we should study the requests of our hosts carefully and if it is too much of an inconvenience to comply, we should stay home. I NEVER go anywhere without my invitation card or Access Card, even though I know I would be given ‘VIP’ treatment. What if I am asked and I can’t produce it, what will be my response? Will I have to say, ‘Don’t you know who I am?’. By the time you get to that point at a public place, your best option will be to turn back and go home. One of my friends did not attend my 60th birthday dinner in June. When I asked her why not, she said she got the ‘Save the Date’ but not the formal invitation card. She said she knew security would be tight so she decided not to go. I was hurt but I fully understood her point, and I took responsibility for her not receiving the card in time.

Alhaja Bucknor’s words might have been unduly harsh, but we should understand the context of her frustrated outburst. We should not disrespect hosts. We should either show up respectfully or keep our rude selves at home. We are from diverse cultures, but we all have something in common when it is about celebrating one another. We come together out of love and mutual respect. Even though it is common to find scavengers at parties (this should be expected because times are hard) the majority of people who show up are not hungry but have come to rejoice with the celebrant. We should stop promoting a culture of entitlement, insensitivity and disorderliness. Alhaja’s party was in London, the same London where the late Queen Elizabeth’s flawless funeral took place last year and the coronation of King Charles took place this year. The two events were characterized by the solemn observance of protocol, adherence to security procedures, impeccable time management, observance of appropriate dress codes and dignified behaviour on the part of all those who felt deeply privileged to be present. The exact opposite is what transpires at similar events in our own backyard here. Granted, we are not ‘Oyinbo’ people, but that does not make us lesser human beings either. It is shameful for us to take our undignified ways of behaving to other places.

No one is born with bad manners or good behaviour, these are things that are learnt. It is time for us to learn or unlearn. Happy 70th birthday Alhaja. Please, when you turn 80, leave the party planning to others around you.

Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com

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4 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: Alhaja Bucknor @70

  1. Maryam October 8, 2023 at 7:51 am

    Happy birthday alhaja Buknor

  2. Iyanuoluwa Isinkaye October 8, 2023 at 10:38 am

    It’s good she apologized at the end
    Happy birthday Alhaja

  3. Ibukunoluwa October 8, 2023 at 12:09 pm

    It’s good she apologized after realizing her actions. Even tho, she has apologized, she will be remembered for that. So before taking any action, we should think of the afterward.
    Happy birthday Alhaja.

  4. Rachael October 9, 2023 at 5:12 am

    Imagine how embarrassed the guests would have been…I believe there are ways she could have achieved her wishes that day with less efforts, by having a trusted event planner and using the services of bouncers…Even though the deed has been done, it’s a good thing that she apologized…


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