File photo: Marriage proposals
Morenike Ayodeji almost ran for cover when she heard screams behind her at a section of the packed mall that afternoon. A busy company secretary, who works with a stock broking firm at Marina, in the heart of Lagos’ central business district, Saturdays are the only days she has to shop for grocery and other important day-to-day items needed by the family. Hitting the Ikeja Shopping Mall popularly known as Shoprite by many in company with her 14-year-old daughter at about 1:30pm that day, the mother of three was hoping to have a smooth time at the busy facility. But her experience that afternoon was far from what she had expected. One hour into their stay at the mall, she and her daughter got a little scare when a handful of persons erupted in screams. The sight of people running towards the area the noise was coming from heightened her anxiety. But by the time she summoned courage to move closer to the scene it was a completely different story.
“I thought someone had been shot and killed going by the way people were screaming,” she told a correspondent, who was also drawn by the loud noise at that section of the facility during a visit earlier in the week. “But when I eventually summoned the courage to move closer, I realised that it was the sight of a man proposing to his lover that was making people to scream. A lot of the people around clapped for them and took their photographs as the two of them hugged and kissed each other. The beauty of the act quickly made me to forget my fears. It was really a nice scene to behold,” Ayodeji, who was still panting vigorously at the time our correspondent arrived the scene, added.
Desperate to give his woman one of the biggest treats of her life, the man, who gave his name only as Bimbo, without minding the presence of other shoppers at the busy arena, was discovered to have stormed the facility in company with a few friends with the plan secretly hatched and kept away from the lady known as Ebun. While she sought to buy chicken and chips from a fast food outlet at a section of the mall, according to eyewitnesses, the young man suddenly went on his knee, brought out a ring he had hidden inside a small pack containing popcorn and threw the ‘big question’ at her: “Will you marry me?”. Overwhelmed by surprise and emotions, the woman gave a resounding “yes”. The two were still wrapped in each other’s arms when our correspondent finally came across them.
“I just wanted to make her feel truly special and loved in the eyes of the whole world that was why I had to do this here,” the man, who claimed to be 31 and from Oyo State, said. “We have been together since our secondary school days and had been through a lot together. Though I thought of many things but this idea came to my mind after consulting a few friends who mentioned Shoprite to me. I am happy she loved the surprise and said ‘yes’ to me. It feels really good,” he stated excitedly.
The bride-to-be, Ebun, could barely contain her happiness when our correspondent sought to know how the proposal made her feel. Giggling and blushing like a newly crowned queen, she told Saturday PUNCH that she could not have asked for more.
“I really cannot explain how I feel inside me,” she said, covering her face with her palms while Bimbo holds her closely to himself. “I never saw this coming; it totally swept me off my feet. Being a naturally shy person, he perhaps chose this method of proposal to get at me but I love it completely and I am looking forward to our new life together as a couple,” the 28-year-old woman added.
But amusing as it sounds, the sight of men proposing to their lovers at the most unimaginable places and manner is now becoming a common phenomenon these days especially with more people inventing new and even more daring concepts to wow the Internet.
For example, two weeks ago at a branch of Shoprite in Ibadan, Oyo State, a man named Daniel Abugo proposed to his girlfriend in the full glare of other shoppers. After dating for three years, the 29-year-old fashion designer felt that openly expressing his love and desire for Nkechi, his ‘darling’, was one of the best ways he could drive home his message and make her feel truly special. While the surprised woman joyfully collapsed into the arms of Abugo, who later posted the video and photographs on his Facebook page, friends and passersby applauded them, wishing them the best in their new journey.
When contacted by our correspondent on Facebook to find out how he came about the idea and why he chose the busy shopping mall to propose marriage to his woman, like Bimbo, he revealed that he wanted the entire world to know how “blessed” he is to have someone as Nkechi.
“I could easily have taken her to a nice restaurant to propose to her but I felt that doing so at a busy place such as Shoprite where a lot of people would see us, will surely make a lot of difference.
“Also, a lot of my friends were adopting this new strategy, so I felt it was something I also should embrace to make the occasion special. We plan to marry in January 2018 but before then, there should be something interesting to fire our love and that is exactly what the proposal at Shoprite has done. Since then, my woman treats me with much more respect,” he revealed.
In what could be regarded as truly ‘ingenious’ and perhaps ‘weird’, another man, drunken with the love of his woman, in July 2017 got many ribs cracking when he appeared at Murtala Muhammed International Airport dressed in a ‘Batman’ costume. There to pick his ‘babe’, who just arrived the country from the United Kingdom where she had been studying all along, the man named Stephen Aderopo, proposed to her right in front of the arrival hall once she showed up with her luggage. For travellers and other categories of persons at the scene that night, it was indeed one of the most ‘bizzare’ things they had ever seen.
“On my own I wouldn’t have imagined doing that but after speaking to a few people and got some form of encouragement, I decided to give Fadeke something really special from the very moment she arrived in Nigeria from the UK where she had been for five years.
“The moment I showed up in front of her wearing the costume, she couldn’t recognise me because my face was covered. But when I removed the mask, knelt down and brought out a ring, she burst into tears and wrapped her arms around me. She never expected it but for me it was the best gift I could have given her for all her kindness and loyalty to me,” Aderopo, a civil engineer, told our correspondent during a chat on Facebook earlier in the week.
That same month, a man named Osas Akugbe, who is based in Benin, Edo State, took the trend to a whole new level when he proposed to his lover right in the middle of a busy road in the Palace Road area of the city. Capitalising on the traffic that had built up along the axis that afternoon, Akugbe emerged from his car with his woman, walked a few meters, knelt down before asking her to marry him in the most fascinating manner. Other car owners and road users also caught up in the traffic, watched and applauded them in excitement as the lovers hugged and kissed each other passionately. Images from that ‘epic’ marriage proposal have continued to get Nigerian Internet users talking, with many hailing the man’s courage and creativity at expressing his love for his woman.
The young man, who posted photographs of the incident on his twitter handle, told our correspondent when contacted that he wanted to propose to his woman in a truly unique way. Revealing that he partnered with the traffic wardens at the location to carry out the plan, Akugbe said he had received a lot of praises from friends following the strategy.
“I still get a lot of positive comments from friends and people on the social media and wherever I go to following that exciting experience,” he said. “Maybe it was the first of its kind in the whole of Benin because the way people talk about it is really impressive. My woman still finds it hard to believe that I could go to such length to profess my love for her. I just had to do it to make her know that she means the world to me and that I am ready to take any risk for her,” he added.
But while recent episodes of this rising trend has left many Nigerians wondering on what the next ones would be about, in the not too distant past, other husbands-to-be in different parts of the country have equally treated us to all sorts of marriage proposals – with a handful indeed ‘crazy’.
For instance, last December, Port Harcourt, capital of oil-rich Rivers State, was treated to a special ‘dish’ from this new ‘delicacy’ in town when a love-struck man named Brown Effah served the people a very rare flavour. In an attempt to top the ‘medals table’ in this latest category of ‘social media games’, the young man came up with a strategy that not only gave his ‘babe’, Effiwatt Yemi, the scare and thrill of her life but also left many truly amazed. Pretending to be a notorious robber, who had been on the wanted persons list of the police, Effah in collaboration with some officers faked his arrest after running into a special patrol team. Not allowing the man, who was with his lover in the car to say anything, the two of them were handcuffed and moved from the spot enroute the police command. From there things took different turns until the man finally popped the ‘big question’ to the scared woman, who was too excited to say “yes”.
One month before that time, perhaps the ‘mother’ of all such trend came to town when a man proposed to his fiancée in the most ‘unbelievable’ manner. Soaked in what appeared to be a pool of blood in the middle of a busy road with bystanders pacing back and forth in apparent agitation, the man scared the daylight out of his lover, who had been told he was knocked down by a vehicle. The sight of his ‘lifeless’ body, too heavy for her heart, the young woman crashed to the ground, wailing frantically and shaking his body, hoping that a miracle would spring him back to life. But after a short period, the ‘dead’ man suddenly sprang back to life, bringing a ring out of his pocket before going on one knee to ask her to marry him. Surprised and confused at the turn of events, the woman, after a few seconds, raced to the waiting arms of her man, screaming “yes, I will”. For eyewitnesses and all those, who had seen the video and photographs on the Internet, the act would indeed go down as one of the most unusual types of marriage proposals in history.
While these incidents have indeed sent shock waves down the spines of many, who came across them on various social media platforms on the Internet, there have also been other equally amazing ways Nigerian men have embraced to propose marriage to their would-be wives these days. From doing so right in the middle of a football match, to proposing on a flight and at a popular and busy market – the ways adopted are indeed endless.
During visits to different parts of Lagos and other major cities across the country, Saturday PUNCH discovered that this ‘new culture’ of ‘spectacular’ marriage proposals have indeed become deeply entrenched in the society these days with many men now willing to break the bank to come up with something truly unique and amazing.
In separate chats with a handful of young women to find out what they think about this rising trend in town, it was discovered how it was now almost part of the expectation from many in this category for such to occur.
“My boyfriend knows that he must propose to me openly and in a nice way for me to say yes to him,” Imoh Eno, a 27-year-old Akwa Ibom native, told Saturday PUNCH. “It is not as if I am following trend but for me, it’s just what will make me confirm that such a man truly values me and will defend me in the open in the future if anything happens. I have seen a lot of wonderful marriage proposals on the Internet, I look forward to mine very soon,” she said.
Another spinster, Tosin Kolawole, who disclosed that she was in a very serious relationship, also said that she cannot marry a man except he wows her with a special marriage proposal.
“We are in a new age now with new trends coming up every day and nobody wants to be left behind. Therefore, any man that I will finally settle down with must ask for my hand in marriage in a very special way. Those being celebrated on social media don’t have two heads, so mine too shouldn’t be different.
“I don’t know when my current guy who I have been with for two years now plans to propose to me but I am very sure he will do so in a memorable way,” she said.
Following this rising trend and craze among many young Nigerians these days, smart business owners appear to be catching in on the seeming opportunities it has created to make cool cash. For instance, during a visit to a popular and exquisite resort around the Magodo area of Lagos, our correspondent discovered how the management of the facility, tapping into the growing demand, has come up with special and attractive packages for men willing to propose to their ladies in the facility. A staff, who gave her name only as Yemi, said that they had to develop the new ‘product’ due to constant requests from customers, who wished to thrill their women by asking their hands in marriage under the cool ambience of the place.
“People were always coming to know how much it would cost them if they wanted to propose to their lovers while the other customers were all seated,” the woman said. “Though they had their own concept in mind, they just wanted it to be done under the ambiance of the resort, so with time we had to come up with something. As a matter of fact, we have people specialised in the art who could come up with different ideas on how clients could go about it, and the response has been great.
“Depending on what the person wants, we have such packages for as low as N30, 000. Drinks, special lights and sometimes fireworks are involved to make the proposal truly interesting depending on the package opted for. The response has been great indeed,” she added.
A handful of high-end restaurants visited in other parts of Lagos also revealed how this rising trend and the demand for the ‘perfect’ venue by would-be grooms to pop the ‘big question’ to their lovers is forcing the management of such places to invent new and special packages to suite this purpose.
At a popular eatery around Allen junction in Ikeja, Lagos’s capital, it was discovered how to use the place for such purposes now costs between N10, 000 and N15, 000 depending on what would be involved during the proposal. Apart from having a song of choice blasted on the restaurant’s sound system, a photographer to capture and print every moment of the action within minutes is also on ground as part of the package. Customers are allowed to tweak proceedings to suite their taste and feelings, it was also found.
“We were not really doing this before; it was the demand for it by men who patronise us that made us come up with the service.
“Even though many people don’t know, we have been running it for almost one year now and there is no week that at least three people won’t propose to their lovers here. It is a really encouraging business for us,” one male worker, who refused to give his name, said.
In Port Harcourt, Warri, Benin, Owerri, Enugu and Abuja, findings by Saturday PUNCH reveal many high-end restaurants and relaxations spots catching in on the rising phenomenon have also come up with attractive packages for men looking to propose to their lovers in truly special ways. While like in Lagos the price for such unusual treat is determined by a number of factors, the cost starts from as low as N5, 000 in some of these places. For owners of such facilities, it is indeed boom time.
Fingering the social media and the fad among most young Nigerians these days of developing a love for unnecessary show off, sociologist, Adaeze Dike, told Saturday PUNCH that success and happiness in marriage had nothing to do with how glamorous or amazing the proposal was.
While noting that she was not against people expressing themselves in the ways they liked, she cautioned that young Nigerians must begin to move away from the pedestrian things of life and focus on the core that can bring lasting impact.
“Marriage proposals have always been around for as long as I can remember but this new dimension it is taking in Nigeria is what I don’t truly understand.
“I sense a form of competition among our young people these days but the competition is not for the good cause. Once somebody starts a trend in the society nowadays, the others follow without necessarily analysing to see if it serves any meaningful purpose truly worthwhile.
“While I have no problem with individuals expressing their love in ways that best suites them, I am worried that this type of behaviour among our young people will take us nowhere as a society. I think that one way or the other, some form of reorientation must be given to our young people so that they can understand that the expectation on their shoulders is massive,” Dike said.
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