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Igbo Kwenu! Yes, Igbo ladies are unarguably beautiful, but the beauty is not just skin deep, it is embedded in the rich cultures and traditions of the tribe.
We will be talking about Igbo Traditional Marriage and everything about it.
1. ‘Iku aka’ or ‘Iju ese’ which is the marriage inquiry
Here the groom has to visit the bride’s immediate family accompanied by his father or the eldest member of his family, if his dad is deceased. This is where the bride-to-be is called out by her parents and asked if she accepts the suitor for marriage, her response determines the bride price negotiation and informing the extended family.
After this stage, investigation is carried out by the bride’s family to check history of illness, hereditary diseases, if the groom is either already married/divorced and other necessary things before informing their extended family.
2. ‘Umunna’ seeking consent from the extended family of the bride-to-be
Here, the suitor takes gift along with him, such as snuff, Kola nuts, palm wine, goat, etc. And this is where the final decision is made whether or not the family of the bride accepts the suitor and his family. The date for traditional wedding is set and bride price list is sent out.
3. ‘Ime ego’ which means bride price negotiation and payment
There is really no unified Bride price requirements especially in Igbo land and people tend to complain of the exorbitant list of items the groom is expected to bring or meet before he is able to marry from this tribe.
It depends on the place, community and family when it comes to this list. But before anything else is done, there must be a final agreement on what to bring as the bride price.
4. ‘Igba Nkwu Nwanyi’ and ‘Idu Uno’ which is the wine carrying ceremony by the bride
This is the last and final stage in the Igbo traditional wedding ceremony and it’s usually hosted by the bride’s family where they entertain their guests depending on their level of affluence in the community for the groom’s family coming and invited guests, they also hire a live band and maybe traditional dancers to make the ceremony interesting.
Usually, the bride-to-be is dressed in the traditional Igbo wedding attire which include a blouse, a double wrapper, a red coral bead necklace and a big head tie known as ‘Ichafu’ or a bead round her head.
The groom is expected to be accompanied by a larger party this time (friends included) and bring along with him the bride price list. He must present the list along with the required gifts to the Umunna before the ceremony begins.
The highlight of Igba Nkwu Nwanyi is when the bride in public points out the man she wants to marry. The bride’s father or eldest uncle (if her dad is deceased) prays traditionally for the bride, blessing her marriage in future, then he gives her a cup of palm wine (it is usually placed in a gourd) to find the man she intends to spend the rest of her life with.
The bride along with her maidens then goes to find her groom who is hidden in the crowd, as she searches for him with the wine in her hand; she is beckoned by other men and the groom’s friends seated in the crowd to give them her wine.
After searching him out, she then offers him the drink in her hand kneeling down. If he takes a sip, it signifies to the crowd that he is her husband, acceptance means they are officially man and wife. The groom and bride then dance to meet her parents who then pronounce blessings on them. The merriment begins and the couple is given gifts by friends and family.
5. Idu Uno comes immediately after Igba Nkwu
At this stage; the bride visits the groom’s home for the first time and she goes along with a maiden or her sister who isn’t married to keep her company.
Before she begins her journey, the bride’s family gifts her with items she’ll need to start her new home, these include cooking utensils, bed-sheets, suitcases, boxes, sewing machine, bed, pillowcases, plates, clothes and other essential things she’ll need to begin their new life together. The bride’s sister or family can go back home after a few days to give feedback to her people.