The joy of marriage cannot be overemphasized, in a typical African setting – marriage brings lots of happiness, it converges the family together to celebrate the birth of a new era. A traditional marriage in Nigeria is more respected and valued than other weddings. Most churches may not join couple in holy matrimony, if the necessary traditional rites have not been done.
In today’s article I am going to share with you my experience during the traditional wedding ceremony of a client that I was in charge of her photography.
The traditional wedding customs and rites of the Odobaji village, Olamaboro L.G.A Kogi state, Nigeria is such a unique ceremony. The wedding ceremony here is mostly a community affair, the villagers all come together, bringing their quota to the make the event a success. Odobaji people are generally loving and accommodating, mostly farmers in cash crops like cashew etc.,
The journey for a successful traditional marriage starts with the “first knocking” – here the man informs his parents and elders about the girl he wants to marry, delegates will be sent to investigate the bride-to-be’s family. After the investigations, if the man’s family is satisfied with their findings, then they can formally notify the girl’s family about their son’s intention towards their daughter.
The girl’s family will also send out their own team to investigate the groom and his family likewise. When their findings are good, word is sent out to the man’s family to come for the formal introductions. The man and his family are required to present some gift items.
Bride price Payment
I must say that the bride-price negotiation of the Odobaji people was quite a lengthy one, before any further discussion the man must present the items the family listed to him during the formal introduction ceremony which he needs to present on the Bride-price payment ceremony. Typically, the list may contain items like;
- 1 full wheel barrow of yam
- 10 liters of Oil
- 2 she goat
- 1 bag of rice
- Jar of palm wine
- alcoholic beverages
- soft drinks
The Bride-price Payment do take place a day before traditional marriage ceremony. The representative of both family introduces their own family member. The spokesman or representative of the girl’s family will be the umpire of the day, coordinating, making sure things don’t get out of proportion.
In the Past bride-price in Odobaji village is mostly farm product. The groom may be asked to bring 300 tubers of yam, 10 100kg (bag) cashew, 30 gallons of palm oil or 10 (bags) of palm seed, but all these is now being monetized. So, the bride’s family will ask for a certain amount of money as bride-price. Then, the two families go into negotiations until they agree to a certain price. When these happens they are all drink and celebrate, congratulating each other.
Traditional marriage ceremony
On that faithful day, the bride’s family will summon their in-laws to a room and hand over to them the bride-price they paid a night before. This is done to show that their daughter is not for sales and they want her to be properly taken care of. However, this depends on the family and community.
Strict warming is given out; that on no circumstance should their daughter be allowed to starve, suffer undue harsh conditions or maltreated. The father will bless the new couple, before the bride is allowed to go dancing during the celebrations, a certain amount money is paid to young girls and her friends. This serve as a gate pass into her new life.
The bride will dance into the traditional marriage ceremony ground in company of her friends. They will come dancing to the music and greet the families. She will change cloth and come out again repeating the same greeting and go back again. She would come back this time only with two of her friends to sit on her chair. They would be asked to sit and her friends will stop from Sitting, saying her waist is aching her so, they can’t sit. The guest and the groom’s family will spray money on them until they sit.
The groom dressed in the same attire as the bride, comes dancing with two of his supposed best friends. He will sit, then his families and friends will come spraying him with money. With all rites been observed the ceremony will continue with lots of celebrations – eating, drinking and dancing. At the end of the day the grooms take his brides home.
NOTE: In time of death, no Odobaji daughter should be buried out her father’s compound.
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