Ever wondered what goes behind a traditional marriage?, the rules, customs, traditions and generally, what steps are taken before man and woman can be seen as married in a traditional setting?
Usually, when people (who are not familiar) describe traditional marriages, the first things you hear are the colourful clothes, jewellery, food, drinks and decorations. It sounds so exotic and different from the all too familiar church weddings.
I doubt if any of the other important things comes to mind; such as bride price, kinsmen or the numerous traditional rites that has to be observed first, before the day.
Before church marriages, there were local marriage ceremonies performed in all parts of the world. Nigeria, alone has numerous tribes and languages, all of whom have their different ways of performing or celebrating a marriage.
As much as I would love to know what makes them all different or similar, for now, I will share the one I am familiar with…..”Igbo traditional marriage” (South east of Nigeria).
My beloved brother and his wife got married few weeks ago and has volunteered to use their colourful pictures as an example of what it might look like.
So for those of you who are falling in love with an African girl or thinking of marrying and venturing to the unknown, below is what might lay ahead.
So it starts with “Iku Aka” (Introduction)…..This is the first step. It means the man letting his intentions known to the future bride’s family. Drinks, garden eggs, peanut butter, etc are used for this.
If they accept your marriage proposal, the second stage is getting a list from the bride’s family. In this case, the bride is from “Imo State”, so it is slightly different. Two lists are given out (Only one list in Anambra state) to the groom’s family. The first is a Female list and the second is a Male list. The list (money is also paid to get a list) is a piece of paper containing all the stuff you are required by the custom of the tribe to provide for the groom’s family and the Kinsmen.
A date is agreed for when the the groom comes back with all the items on the list. On that day, there are more introductions and negotiations. The wife to be, takes this opportunity to come out officially and greets her future husband and his family when they arrive.
Finally after an agreement is reached (including a closed door session with the bride’s dad and how much the “Bride Price” will be), the deal is done. The bride’s family makes a loud noise, hailing the groom. And the women in the bride’s family, make their own noise and chantings too. The faith of the future bride and groom is sealed with a prayer ; they are officially engaged!! Refreshments commence.
After the above, you are well on your way. The next is “ewu nna” (Goat for the Kinsmen) and “Igba nkwu” (Traditional marriage ceremony). To cut it short, the BRIDE PRICE is paid at this stage.
On the Igba nkwu day, the bride comes out to greet her in-laws before every other thing commences. During the entire ceremony, the bride usually shows off her beauty by changing into two to three traditional outfits.
One of the most important thing during the “Ewu nna” and “Igba nkwu” is that the husband accepts his wife. A cup of palm wine is given to the bride by the eldest male in the Kindred, to give to her husband. When he accepts the wine from her, he feeds her a small amount of it and then drinks the rest. It signifies that they are both in agreement to marry each other. The marriage contract is sealed and official. Every other thing happens…..drinking, eating, dancing, loud music, pictures and much more….