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Traditional Marriage: How the Ibusa People Do it


The institution of marriage is sacred to the Ibusans like their Anioma kiths and kin, thus the Ibusans hold marriage in high esteem. Divorce is therefore unthinkable and exists only as taboo in the minds of the people. To mention or suggest is followed with fierce resentment, this is quite unlike what we hear or read from the western media where divorce is duly carried out with utmost palatability. Indeed, the Aniomas believe that divorce is one wind that blows no one any good.

This gives rise to the traditional rite of “Ihalidi” in which a widow is traditional expected to accept any of his brother’s relations who may eventually become her husband if they both give their consent.

In this work, I shall try as much as possible to give you an idea of what you should expect when marrying an Ibusa Lady or just how this marriage ceremony will take place. Ibusa is a small calm town in Delta State, Nigeria with beautiful and nice people. The social history of the town clearly tells it that once married, Ibusa Ladies do well in their homes and are very hard-working.

It is not a tradition but any Ibusa Lady upon proposal with readiness for marriage is expected to formally introduce her Suitor to her parents and sometimes too to her parents close relations. Thereafter, a date is fixed for the “Iku-Aka” (Introduction). “Iku-Aka” particularly provides a platform both families exchange knowledge thus tend to become familiar with them or just plants the idea within them that a marriage may soon take place.

After the ‘Iku-Aka” marriage expectation become very high but what happens is that a list containing the necessary requirements such as a particular sum of amount for the “Ego-Isi” (bride-price) and dowry is issued to the Groom. There is however no fixed amount as Bride-price just the Ibusa people do not sell their daughters but desires their welfare which is of major concern to them.

The would-be husband having consulted the parents of her wife-to-be comes up with a date for this “Ibu-Ego” (traditional marriage) to take place. Traditional marriage in Ibusa usually takes an out-door outlook and arranged in such a way that the families of the couple do not sit together but sit facing each other in such a way that the families and friends of the Groom sit as one, while the families and friends of the bride sit together as one. Only on rare occasions do they sit together. The Bride may decide to dress traditionally and decorating her hair with red beads too.

The traditional marriage begins with an opening prayer usually said by the “Diokpa” (Head of the family of the Bride’s family) thereafter; the family of the groom is welcomed with what is called “Appreciation drinks kola nuts”. This in return is appreciated with the giving out of drinks by the Groom’s family. Kola nuts are broken by both families simultaneously. The spokesman of the Groom then traditionally addresses the Bride’s family giving explanation of purpose of visit which he may begin thus:

“Well you may have discovered that one of your flowers got missing and is still not found”

The “Diokpa” (Head of the groom’s family) may respond thus:

“We are still in suspense because though we have been told that our missing flower was taken by you, many of our flowers are missing. Mention the name of this particular one…”

Upon the mention of the name of the Bride, the Groom’s family supplies Groom’s family with drinks which is followed with the acceptance of the speech on the purpose of visit by the “Diokpa”. Next is “Izu-Ashia” (Traditional marketing) About 3 men each from both families are at this point are allowed to go into traditional marketing.

Here the Bride-price is debated and accepted. It is the 3 men who represent the Groom’s family that return with Bride-price and given to the “Diokpa”. This Bride-price in form of money is kept inside a covered plate. The Bride and Groom are at this point joined as man and wife by the Head of the groom’s family.

This begins with the Head of the Groom’s family asking the Bride if he should drink from the drink kept on the table to which the Bride says yes. The “Diokpa” would then remind the Bride that on no account will she be welcomed back into her parent’s house as result of any quarrel with her husband and divorce should never be contemplated by either her or the family because both families may never give their backings. The “Diokpa” then pours some “Nmanya-Nkwu” (Palm-wine) inside a cup and gives to the Bride to drink and give to her husband which she does while kneeling down. This is to symbolize her submissiveness to her husband in the years ahead as a wife.

The couple however entertains their invitees with thrilling dance steps and is in return appreciated by their guests who join them in this dance. “Iha-Una” (ln-Law’s departure rites) becomes the last item on the program of events which brings to an end a marriage to an Ibusa Lady

By Emeka Esogbue 

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