Marrying an Igbo girl in Nigeria can be simple yet rigorous. There are varieties among Igbo families on how you can marry a woman from Igbo land, the southeastern part of Nigeria.
However, despite the differences, there are some core characteristics most marriages in Igbo land possess. We will explore the core processes of getting married to an Igbo woman and the less important process.
To different people, marriage is meant for various purposes. To some marriage is looked upon as a means of childbearing, companionship, etc while to others it is a religious obligation.
To an average Igbo family, marriage is viewed as an accomplishment. It is what defines one status as a man or woman.
How To Marry An Igbo Girl
Here are steps that need to be followed before a union of a man and woman is approved in Igbo land. Such steps include:
Knocking on the door (Iku aka n’uzo):
After a woman has accepted the proposal of a man and it is made known to both families. This is known as Iku aka n’uzo – knocking at the door.
The groom visits the bride’s family to declare his intentions to marry their daughter and his wish to bring his family to see them. They will set a date and both families will meet for the first time at the bride’s home.
The groom will be accompanied by his parents, elders or a few family members and they will go along with alcohol drinks, and kola nuts while the bride’s family will prepare and await their arrival.
It is customary that the groom’s family will not expect an answer for their visit during the first family meeting, they will enjoy their food and drinks and then part ways.
After their departure, the bride’s parents will discuss with her whether to proceed with the request and it is usually a positive answer that she gives.
Family background investigation (Iju Ajuju):
This is the part where both families learn about each other through outside enquiries from people who know the family within the community where each is living.
Oftentimes, the groom starts his investigation before proposing engagement and before the first family meeting. The investigation covers family history, health information, religious practices etc.
This process may not be necessary since both couples may have known each other’s family in the process of courting. Thus, it is not one of the core processes of marrying an Igbo girl.
The discussion of the bridal list (Ihu isi nwanyi):
If both parties are satisfied with their findings, they would proceed to the next stage which is the discussion of the bridal list.
Before the pride price is discussed the bride’s father will call her daughter planning to marry to come and greet the guests and in their presence the father will tell her about the groom’s mission and ask her if they should accept or decline their proposals. It is often a positive answer that she gives.
Afterwards, the bridal list contains the rights of the brides parents, community, the men (umunna), the women (umuada) and young adults.
It includes items listed below which might be different from one community to another and families. Some family list is not elaborate while others may be elaborate.
Oftentimes, items in the list may be influenced by the level of investment or training that the parents have put into the bride.
Items in the list may include any of these, but is not limited to; Tubers of yam, Alcoholic drinks, Large bags of rice, soft drinks, cash, kola nuts, keg of palm wine, Tobacco, goat, fruits, stockfish, Bag of onions, Beans, salt, George wrappers (Specified numbers), High target wrappers(specified numbers), Head ties (specified numbers), Shoes(specified numbers), suitcase, handbags, pieces of jewellery, talcum powder, tin tomatoes, tins of milk and lots more.
Again, these items are not mandatory. There are cases where only a couple of them will be selected by the family. In some cases, some families don’t demand for these.
Dowry negotiations (Ego isi nwanyi):
Both families will meet as traditional demands and negotiate the amount asked to be paid while some may not negotiate. At the present age, the bride’s parents request a small amount of money to fulfil traditional rights.
Traditional wedding (Igba nkwu):
This is not one of the mandatory processes in getting married to an Igbo woman. If the dowry has been paid and accepted then the marriage has been ordained.
Any other activity that comes after this is only a formality. It is completely at the discretion of the couples if they want to proceed with a traditional wedding.
The traditional wedding is an open event where family and friends are in attendance to witness the union of the couple.
It is an important part of the wedding, here the bride carries the wine from the father and goes in search of her groom and when she finds him, she kneels, sips a little of the drink and gives to the groom and thereafter they come out and enjoy the merriment with everyone present.
New home sendoff gifts by the bride’s parents (Idu ulo):
The bride’s parents and family shower her with house gifts to start her new home and it depends on what the family can afford. They might decide to give it to her on the night of the traditional wedding or wait till after the religious wedding.
Bride’s family first visit to the newlywed’s home (Imata ulo di):
A few weeks after the marriage, the bride’s family goes to pay her homage and it is traditional. It is done to know where their daughter is living in case of any emergency and also to confirm if she is happy and well cared for in her new home.
Truly, marriage in Igbo culture is expensive but it is sorely tradition. It is done to ensure that the marriage lasts a lifetime and it is worth every penny spent.