This blog post highlights a coherent checklist for Igbo traditional wedding. The Igbo traditional wedding also known as “Igba nkwu” ceremony is one of the most colourful events to look out for in Nigeria. It is an event that must take place before a couple is considered married in Igbo land. For the wedding to be considered valid, there is a checklist that must be followed sequentially and strictly without any omission else the wedding is considered invalid or incomplete.
Checklist for Igbo traditional wedding
Igbo wedding introduction
The wedding introduction in Igbo land is called “Iku aka” and it is referred to as the first traditional wedding rite. This is done by the families of the couple who have agreed to get married. The groom first goes to the family of his wife to inform them of his intention to marry their daughter and when he plans on bringing his people to meet with them.
After the date is finalized, the groom comes with a few members of his family and someone to act as “Onye aka-ebe” (witness) to meet with the family of the bride. During this meeting, the groom’s family lay out their intention to marry their daughter and presents a bottle of dry gin to the father of the bride, the father of the bride then calls out to his daughter to ask her approval before accepting the drink.
Once the drink has been accepted, the groom presents gift items to the bride, the gifts could include; cream, biscuit, soap, chocolate, and coconut, this gift presentation to the bride is called “Igbanye nwanyi ihe”. After the gift presentation, the family of the bride dismisses the groom’s family giving them the approval to come and collect the list at a later date.
This is the stage where the different families go to ask questions to know more about the other family. This happens at a different point, the groom’s family does their investigation usually before they go for the introduction while the family of the bride do theirs after the introduction to decide whether to continue with the marriage or not. This investigation gives way to a proper understanding of the family and village in terms of belief, tradition, behaviour, generational history and threats.
List collection for an Igbo traditional wedding
On the day of the list collection, someone from the family of the groom or the groom himself comes to pick up the list. The list is prepared by the kinsmen and in most cases, the collection of the list comes at a price between 1000 – 3000 Naira. Everything on the list is expected to be bought and brought on the day of the bride price payment.
Items to be expected on the list for an Igbo traditional wedding usually include:
- Sizeable goat
- Palm oil
- Bag(s) of rice
- Kola nut
- Bathing soap
- Big stainless basin
- Travel bag(s)
- Alcoholic drinks
- Soft drinks and so on
Payment of bride price for an Igbo traditional wedding
On the day destined for the payment of the bride price, the groom comes with his kinsmen to meet with the kindred of the bride, the witness present on the day of introduction will also be present. On this day, the items brought by the groom are cross-checked with what is on the list to make sure everything is complete.
Once they ensure everything is complete, the groom proposes an amount to pay as the bride price, the bride’s father takes part of the money and the kindred uses the remaining money to settle some payments regarding the traditional wedding.
The payment of the bride price is referred to as the second traditional wedding rite and it could be done on the morning of the traditional wedding, no outsider is allowed into the venue including the bride.
The offering of palm wine to groom at Igbo traditional wedding ceremony
On this day, the last traditional marriage rite is done. The bride is called upon by either her father, grandfather or brother and is given a cup of palm wine to take to her husband, once she reaches her husband, she gives him the cup to drink. When he finishes drinking, he puts money in the cup and leads his wife back to who gave her the cup for blessings, the man blesses them and they begin to dance.
Afterwards, the bride is sent to go see her husband’s people with a keg of palm wine to confirm if she is accepted by them. If her husband’s people accept her, they lead her back to the wedding venue with a full keg of palm wine and she is expected to carry the wine on her head and not allow it to pour on the ground. On her successful return to the wedding venue, the wedding rites are said to be completed.
Knowing the in-law’s place
It is translated as “Ima be-ógò” and it is the last task on the checklist for the Igbo traditional wedding. On the evening of the traditional wedding, the bride is sent to her husband’s house accompanied by her sister, the sister is expected to stay with them for three days. This is done so that the bride’s sister can help the bride settle in fully in her husband’s house. The bride also takes the gift items given to her by her family to her husband’s house, this practice is referred to as “Idu ulo” in Igbo land.
On the successful completion of all these tasks in the Igbo traditional wedding checklist, a bride is said to be completely married and she is fully respected and recognized by the groom’s family.
You might also be interested in Checklist For Yoruba Traditional Wedding.
This is so on point. Thank you for such explicit write up. The Igbo culture is indeed beautiful.