Kalabari weddings are one of the most colorful weddings in Nigeria. From their attires to the traditional wedding rites, you’re in for a great time at the Kalabari wedding.
The Kalabari Kingdom or Elem Kalabari of the Niger Delta is an Ijaw ethnic group, which is the fourth largest ethnic group in Nigeria.
Apart from the visibly bright colors of fabrics and accessories, there is so much life in the cultural practices and dance at a Kalabari wedding. If you’re having a Kalabari traditional wedding soon, here’s everything you should know.
1. The Mutual Agreement
Usually, both parties are expected to be in love before proceeding to get engaged. Once it is confirmed that each person is satisfied with the other, flaws and all, then it means they are ready for “the introduction”. It is important to note that in most Kalabari families, there are no forced marriages.
2. The Introduction
This is the stage where you get to meet your spouse’s parents. Perhaps you have seen them a lot of times, however, it is not official until this step. The introduction is referred to as ware ogiga gbolo which means to knock.
The groom together with the elders of his clan and his parents go to the bride’s house to meet her family and make their intentions known.
Usually, as an indigene, he is expected to have four bottles of gin. The first one is called Biyanwuru. This is given to the father of the just before marriage negotiations. He is also to come with other beverages. However, if he is not an indigene, he is to come with Kolanuts as well. In this case, however, they would not break it, because it isn’t in their culture to do so.
The second bottle of gin is called egberigba wuru along with a stipulated amount of money which is given to the bride’s father or a representative to introduce the groom’s intention. After which, you are expected to come back for a reply.
The third bottle of gin and money is given to the bride’s father in celebration of his positive reply. The fourth bottle of gin and money is given to your new father-in-law and his family to inform them about the day you will be back to pay the bride price. The groom is in turn given a list of items to come back with.
3. The Bride Price
The bride price varies; it is called Fhibiti which is accompanied by more liquor. The price is mostly determined by the father who looks at how much you can afford. In tradition, if you’re not from her village, you will have to pay more because her children will not be from the village which is a loss to them. After all of this, then you give your new mother-in-law an amount of money. It is called Yinghin Okhuba.
4. Traditional Attire
This bride is wearing the “Angara Sun”– a type of beaded hat, with ‘India’ wrapper and blouse and big white ‘coral’ beads. This type of beaded hat draped over her head is the “Kiliali Suon”, paired with “Injiri Iriabo” material and red coral beads.
5. Traditional Afterparty
After the wedding rites are over, the groom and his people are well fed and catered for with plenty of liquor as well. It is usually referred to as Uguni Kamain which is translated as entertainment of strangers.
Lots of delicacies are served such as “Tomina Fulo”– a fresh seafood soup thickened with cocoyam and Onunu which is boiled plantain and yam pounded together with palm oil.