Marriage is the coming together of man and woman as husband and wife to be father and mother to any up-spring produced by their union. Marriage rights and tradition among the Igede people in Nigeria is unique, fill with rich cultural practises. Formerly Igede marriages come in different forms; Accompanying marriage, Elopement -running away with a bride and abduction (force marriage) catching a bride of the interest either from road or market before negotiating the marriage rights with her parent. Which ever the case maybe there must be gun firing, telling other intending suitors to keep away from her; the lady is officially somebody’s wife.
Igede people are from Benue state, Nigeria they can be found in two out of the 23 Local Government Areas in the state namely; Odi and Oju local government area.
Recently we have observed that civilisation and Christianity has eroded some of the intriguing aspects of the marriage right. However, it has also help in stopping forced marriage. For this article am only going to limit my discussion with the traditional marriage rights of this wonderful people of Igede.
Age Long Practise of Igede Traditional Wedding
Most times marriage in Igede land is stimulated by a boy or girl’s hard-work and good character. A mother or house wife could solicit for her male or female relation to marriage. She may decide to ask a girls hand in marriage for her relation. She therefore, facilitates the initial contact between the would be bride and groom.
A day is set aside when the groom visit the bride accompany by his friends, at this gathering the bride and groom are suppose put on a transparent clothing or semi-unclad. This is done for both parties to see each body so as to enable them have a fair opinion of themselves. Any injury mark on a man’s body could be judge to a hoe or cutlass cut which means the man is hard-working. This believes; invariably means he can take care of the woman and she is assured of abundant food at home.
Courtship can now commence after this meeting – if the bride is satisfied with the groom. At this point also the groom is always careful, making sure he prevent a situation where by the girl would prefer his friend/relative to him. There is gift exchange between the bride and groom. The man shows that he is a good son in-law by farming for the bride’s parent from time to time. At this point also secret investigation begins, both by the groom’s and bride’s parent – this is done to know if the family of the other side is free from diseases, insanity, stealing traits, alcoholism and what have you. This investigation is also done to ascertain that both families are not related by blood. If unfortunately let say the groom’s family is not satisfied with the out-come of their investigation and marriage could not hold, the farm work the groom did for the bride’s parent will be paid back in cash, other presents and gifts will be returned also. If the bride’s parent fined the groom not worthy of marrying their daughter, they would tactically withdraw from the process.
Canal knowledge between the prospective bride and groom is forbidden before the final marriage right is observed. Gifts and encomium is always showered on a bride who proves her virginity on her wedding night.
A mediator is contracted by the bride’s parent, usually a man through whom all demand could be channeled to. This is after the father must have certified the marriage free from doubts.
The Bride price
Bride price in Igede land is called ekwuotaba. It has no fixed amount; it can be paid installmentely. It is expected that the balance of the bride price is paid shortly before the girl is taken to the man’s house. Good gesture shown by the husband towards his in-law in time of hardship or need is also part of bride price. In fact there is a saying in Igede that says “payment of bride-price can’t be exhausted”.
In Igede tradition, bride price is complete when twelve bundles of brass bars is provided which today is an equivalent of N10,000 and above. The amount paid for the brass bars varies from family to family and according to the social status of the family.
The wedding ceremony
After the bride price is settled, a possible date is fixed when the groom should come for his wife. The arrival of the groom and his people is marked with a lot of funfair and feasting (Uganyahuonyewe) in the bride’s house. A bride is regarded as wife only when a gun is shot at least once on her arrival at the husband’s house in company of her friends. There will be shouting and jubilation in the groom’s compound. Smoked meat and roasted bush meat well-seasoned with pepper and palm wine is served to everyone at the reception ceremony.
We are meant to know that a new wife is firstly camped (ahuOjuga) in the home of her relative living close to her husband’s house at least three days before she finally moves into her husband house. This is done to settle any complain between the groom and his in-laws. Eating and dancing is the order of the day, at the end of the day the bride return to her lodge. The next day the groom’s father host both the husband and wife to a big feast and blesses their union. A hen is slaughtered – the gizzard and kidney is for the couple to eat. The meat of the fowl is shared into two equal parts, one part to the bride’s family and the other to the groom’s family. These wedding sacraments depict everlasting commitment of the couple to each other till death. Divorce in Igede land is not tolerated.
I hope this is educative enough…feel free to add your opinion
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