High Table Launch

bai Edwin Eriata Oribhabor

"The craze for the launch of one thing or the other is fast losing currency in Nigeria. In those days, just anything and everything deserved to be publicly celebrated or launched irrespective of the financial implication. All machinery were usually channeled to achieving a successful launch likened to the highly criticized ‘’mandate’’ banks do hand to their marketing staff in the banking industry to go ‘’rake’’ in millions at all cost. It was more of a status thing to be addressed as the one who recently had a launch of whatever. Most events attracted desired crowd as people commonly looked up to the next launch for various reasons for which the promotion of individual egos is one.

I had witnessed all manner of launches from the modern “Onitsha market” pamphlets to musical CDs that sound pirated from the launch day to various issues e.g. the completion of say a vocational program etc. Sometime in the past, none would attend a launch jos to sho fes. To have not prepared for a “surprise launch” was the wrong thing to do. For example, should you intend to honor an invitation that clearly stated “celebration of a successful completion of my degree course,” never go there with the impression that the one “celebrating” invited you to “ onli kom an chop.” It will be expedient to make provision for "indirect payment" for being present and entertained. You don’t "kom an chop’’ and walk away "jos laik dat." Something must "drop".

With the downturn in the nation’s economy and consequent poor financial status of majority of Nigerians, the decrease in the number of launches as earlier mentioned, can be explained. The corresponding effect of this on the returns on investment for launch maniacs is not cheering to say the least. Against this backdrop, and in confirmation of the dying habit of “launching” as it were, people spend quality time to carry out feasibility studies on whether to launch or not to launch.

Things are changing. One don’t wake up to imagine that he will have a "score" 5o out of 100 persons invited to a programme especially when the invitees know well in advance that they will be required to spend of their "hard earned" cash. For this reason, it is commonplace to come face to face with "launch from the back door these days.’" In situations of this nature, a book presentation may metamophose into a book launch. Invitees don’t get to know that there will be a launch until they arrive at the program.

Recently, I had the privilege to attend a magazine launch in company of an invitee- friend. It was a perfect representation of the scenario I have been laboring to create in the foregoing. On arrival at the venue of the programme, the"high table" was set. The"who is who" that graced the occasion were "up there" beaming with smiles to rounds of ego lifting comments from the Masters of ceremony in readiness for the task at hand.
After the usual tok tok, the moment we were all waiting for arrived. The "chief launcher" stepped down from the "high table" in gait and majesty accompanied by all members of the high table. It was time for him to justify why he was chosen to play a double as "chairman and chief launcher" respectively. He took the microphone, coughed to clear his throat of any encumbrances and made a brief remark regarding the reason for the gathering and his relationship with the publisher of the magazine that was being launched, offered prayers for its success and announced a handsome launch donation/amount of N300,000 as his contribution to take the magazine to the next level. The next person on the list of high table members pledged to make his widow’s mite of N50,000. Closely following the usual downward trend of donations from the high table, the third person made a cash donation of N20, 000 and collected 10 copies of the magazine. Four remaining members at the high table were representatives to som big big oga an madam dem. Each of them promised to communicate back to their masters. Finally, it became the turn of the "members of the floor" or "General Table" if you don’t mind my coinage.

At this juncture, it was glaring to all present that the event, in Nigerian standard, was a big flop especially if one considers the amount put into its packaging at a high profile hotel venue like the one used. The MC turned his attention to the "general table" to rescue the day. He practically begged all to make their "widow’s mite" to support an event where all attention was from the onset placed on the high table. A moment of disappointment breezed through the entire hall while members of the "general table" showed no interest in dancing to the tune of the MC in a "no-show" situation. I immediately remembered a joke by a Comedian who once said that, it is usually regarded disgraceful if a Man of God calls members of his congregation to walk up to the alter in a church with none coming forward to answer to the call. Therefore, someone would need to come out at the last minute to save the day somehow. It turned out be yours truly an uninvited guest who rode on the back of an invitee to the event. I signified my intention to make a donation and donated the sum of ten thousand naira. Thereafter, non from the "crowd" made any donation. End of show."

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