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Once upon a time, my wife and I were scheduled to attend a funeral.

It came to pass that she did, I didn’t. Later, when I sought to know how things panned out, an obviously displeased wife retorted that if I wanted to know, why didn’t I attend?

Shocked, I responded, “but you know I was on my way when it started raining?” She reacted to my explanation thus, “I know you, if you are determined to attend an event, you plan accordingly, and you don’t miss it.” In other words, my sweetheart accused me of planning not to attend that funeral. An assertion which is far from the truth. Here is why:

The deceased was good to me in various ways – he expressed concern when I was ill for a prolonged period and suggested some local remedies. He also guided my first son through his ‘confirmation’ rite, among others. As such, I had in mind to reciprocate these gestures by attending the funeral to pay my last respect. Unfortunately, on the D-day, it rained cats and dogs just about the time I set off from my location to the venue of the funeral. I felt so bad; hence, my eagerness to know how things played out there. Yet…hm!

But come to think of it. If my wife of 22 years provides such feedback in regards to how I approach my preparations towards events, it definitely means I have been methodical in this respect. So think of it, I did, and I realized that she was right.

That’s because upon introspection, I found these as reasons I attend social and formal events; reciprocity, de-stress, meet old friends, make new friends, my first time at the venue, it’s been a while since I touched base, when the celebrant is rich, if the celebrant will be elated by my presence and to represent my siblings.

Now, let’s discuss them in turns:

Reciprocity

I first got tutored on the Principle of Reciprocity at the Ghana Institute of Journalism by our Social Studies lecturer, Mr. Obiri Yeboah.

According to him, the reciprocity principle is one of the basic laws of social psychology which states that, “in many social situations, we pay back what we receive from others.” In other words, if Nii Armah does Nii Aflah a favor, the latter is likely to do same.

Over time, however, I have observed that the use of the word ‘likely’ in explaining the principle is an understatement. In my considered opinion, the apt word is ‘obligated’. I mean; how can you turn down an invitation to the wedding of a colleague who attended your brother’s funeral? Or, applied differently, refuse to find a job for, when you are in a position to, the grandchild of the person who secured you your first job?

In short, when anybody who I am indebted to, with regard to a gesture extended to me earlier, invites me to an event, I fight tooth and nail to attend the occasion as scheduled. Sometimes, I even ask my wife to join me in order to let the celebrant or the bereaved feel even more appreciative of my reciprocal gesture.

De-stress

Over the past 25 years that I have worked as a Journalist and Public Relations practitioner, my schedules have been stressful. Sometimes, when everybody is relaxing during weekends at home, I am either on trek in various parts of the country or in the office. Sometimes, I even work at home.

‘Workaholic’ is the other nickname my wife gave me. Once, I boastfully declared that I am grateful to God that I am not addicted to anything. My wife replied, with the characteristic body language of a jealous wife that “you are addicted to your work.”

Therefore, anytime I find myself less encumbered by the demands of work, at the weekend, I make a date at any social event that I have been invited to, with her in tow. Sometimes, I may not have been invited personally but I join an invitee to grace the occasion just to cool off the stress.

While at such events, I let my hair down as low as I can, without leaving any hangovers for the week ahead, though.

Meet old friends

As I have stated in a previous article, “friends are the family you choose for yourself”- Edna Buchanan.

Actually, I consider my friends as the building blocks of my life. They help shape my thoughts and cut new paths for myself, depending on their experiences. So, I do not miss any opportunity to reunite with old friends.

Of course when we meet, depending on how well one is doing in life, you either feel good or bad. You feel even worse when the successful ones try to rub their fortunes in your face. If you know you are my friend and you have been doing that, on behalf of all those you have done it to, I hereby say a big, ‘Mtcheew!!!’ to you. It is bad, stop it. ‘Ahonya nsu yɛ dieɛn?- What is wealth without good friends to enjoy it with?

Nonetheless, the opportunity to reminisce and learn few life’s lessons, motivates me to attend ceremonies where I am sure to meet my old paddies. Remember, old friends are the best. No?

Make new friends

Another quote in relation to friends that I have fallen in love with is this, “a real friend is the one who walks in when the rest of the world walk out.” – Walter Winchell.

Since discovering this quote, I have revised my notes about friendship. Hence, I easily look for opportunity to link up with new people I meet. This notwithstanding, I always have this admonition from my mum in mind when I go friending – “Tsɔɔmɔ mi onaanyo ni matsɔɔbo osuban – More like, ‘birds of a feather, flock together.’ Therefore, I choose my friends, I don’t allow them to choose me.

Consequently, at social events, I look for persons whose feathers look like mine and reciprocate their warm gestures. If not, I am sorry.

My first time at the venue

About three years ago, I started hearing about Trassaco Valley Estate and how beautiful and serene the environment there is. I was wondering how I could get the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the much-touted plushness of the vicinity, seeing as I live so far from the place.

Then suddenly, a friend of mine turned fifty and decided to throw a party. The venue? Trassaco Valley. I circled the date on my calendar, monitored, did the countdown and represented. The only disappointment, though, was that the road leading into the ‘Valley’- estates, left much to be desired. Pothole-riddled and dusty. Hm!

Again, when Holiday Inn Hotel opened at the Airport Village. It became talk of the town. Anytime I passed by the place, I imagined how the inside would look like. My curiosity was satisfied with an invitation to another Golden Jubilee party there. This time, by my brother-in-law. Fortunately, his invitation was an electronic one. So, the countdown was automatic. Hence, there was no way I could miss it.

Then Kempinski Hotel opened. I heard about their one plate of food for GH¢100 story in the media. When oo when? I would ask myself. As fate would have it, a client contracted my former employers to coordinate a week-long series of events there. This one I had no choice. I saw, wined and dined at Kempinski.

There was a bonus. Another client invited me and my colleagues for a dinner there, after supporting them with an event that won an international award.

Actually, the receptionists of Golden Tulip, La Palm Royal, Tang Palace, La Beach, Movenpick Ambassador and Accra City hotels have welcomed me for the first time at different times and for varied events into their facilities.

It’s been a while since I touched base

There are places that once you visit, you always long for an opportunity to revisit. For me, one of such is the Akuapim Mountains.

I love the drive atop the mountains and the serenity. Not to mention the fruits and palm wine sold along the road. As such, when I get an invite that would take me there, I make it a date.

Ooh! How I miss Little Acre Hotel and the latest one, Peduase Valley Resort. Somebody, please do me the honours.

When the celebrant is rich

Among Gas, we have a saying that goes thus, ‘loo yɛ ŋme lɛ he’ to wit, there is enough flesh on the palm nut.

This phrase is usually used for funerals of deceased who have many of their children resident abroad. This can be deciphered from the Obituary, nay, Celebration of Life, notices. Such funerals are characterised by attendees who have very distant or no relationship with the deceased whatsoever. And they are the ones who scramble for the take-away packs during such occasions. I don’t do that.

I apply this principle on parties that I am invited to. If it is a rich celebrant, you can be sure that I will be there. That’s because, there, you are directed to a table where you can choose your choice of drink. At such parties, I drink Baileys or wine before helping myself with the buffet.

But when it is a party where I can anticipate that a crate of drinks will be dragged to my table and asked, “Which one should I offer you?” nnmmmmmm? Reciprocity will hold sway.

If the celebrant will be elated by my presence

There are some acquaintances of mine, who upon seeing me, react in a manner that shows deep-seated appreciation of our relationship. They exhibit so much excitement upon sighting me, mostly involuntarily. Some go like, eeeeeiiiii Mr. Ayettey!!!, Others exclaim ei!!! Eric and Ericus!!!, Waow!!! That is how I am welcomed into their company.

From such reactions, I know that these persons want me in their company anytime they are celebrating or grieving. Therefore, I do not fail in honouring their invitations, even if it takes me outside Accra, my comfort zone.

Represent my siblings

It is my firm conviction that while friends are the building blocks for us, and work is as vital as food to human, family is everything.

I therefore do not miss family events, unless the opportunity cost will amount to a serious financial loss to my person.

I am the last born of my siblings. Therefore, there are instances when I have no choice but to make time for certain social events, especially when my older siblings cannot attend for good reasons.

Under such circumstances, I attend, feeling good. This feeling is given further impetus by the fact that I am accorded all the recognition that my siblings would have received if they were present.

It’s time to go

Evidently, my wife’s observation was spot on.

What about you? Why do you attend social events? I bet you can’t take any of the aforementioned nine considerations out. Yours can only be more than mine.

That means, if you are an acquaintance of mine, you have no excuse to absent yourself from my book launch. There are enough reasons for you to be there.

As evidenced in this piece, reciprocity is number one for me. Therefore, if you do it for me, I will do it for you. Or “you do me, I do you, man nogo vex.”- P-Square. Go ahead, smile.

Mi tee – That’s goodbye in Ga.

Let God Lead. Follow Him directly, not through any human.