Wedding as we all know is an elaborate event which is usually celebrated in grand style. It is the joining of two people in holy matrimony. The complete view of the Ebira traditional marriage typical of all African traditional settings. Ebira (also spelt Igbira or Igbirra) are the outspoken and very hard-working people, Nupoid-speaking ethno-linguistic group located in the Central Senatorial district of Kogi State (not far from the Niger-Benue confluence) in Nigeria.
It is believed that a man is up to the age of marriage only when he had gone to have his own farm plot enough to take care of his domestic and immediate needs. He is expected to have the assistance of his immediate family (father, mother, brothers and sisters) as the case may be. The father or the mother keeps an eye on the prospective bride; he or she starts to shower gifts on the parents of the prospective bride not minding the consent of the bride or his or her son. All that mattered was the fact that they know the child (son) is
up to the task. This one is very common in all parts of Ebira Land and in African tradition as a whole.
According to the Ebira traditional marriage customs, a man never walks to his in-laws to inform them of his interest in their daughter; instead, his parents and mostly elderly women from his family do this. They will go to the girl’s parents to introduce themselves and the reasons for coming. It is also their duty to conduct a thorough investigation of the lady’s family backgrounds. Such as her upbringing, family history, how well behaved she is. Every other necessary details about the girl and her family is also investigated. A date is set for the formal introduction of both families as a way of bringing to open what has been going on in secret. This in Kogi language is called “Ise Ewere”. During this initial
introduction, some gifts are usually given to the bride’s family.
Kogi people tend to shy away from the list of requirements as a list, in other not to make it sound mandatory.
The Gifts as Part of traditional marriage rites requirements in Kogi state
Ebiraland includes the following:
-Forty-two tubers of yam
-Hot drinks, Assorted wines, and Minerals
-Walking stick for the father
-Dried fish or bush meat
-10 liters of palm oil
-A bag of salt
-Clothing materials in some boxes
-Pieces of jewelry and Adornment for the lady
-Cash for the clan members and family elders.
Though optional, a groom may decide to present two wrappers to his wife to be Then after this comes the day of general introduction which the groom may not necessarily attend because his family members are usually handy to do anything on his behalf. The bride’s family entertains the groom’s family with foods and drinks and also use the opportunity to know each other properly.
Meanwhile, the gifts that the groom provided are shared among the neighbors and the extended relations to solicit for their prayers and to inform them that the lady is now betrothed to a man of her choice??????????????.
The bride price of the lady is usually agreed upon by her parents and it depends to a greater extent, on the financial status of the man. There are other prices here and there to be paid after the initial bride price and they include the following:
“OTANUVOGEI” which simply means, ‘Joining hands together’
“OZEMEIYI” which means ‘I am attracted to her’
“IDOZA” stands for the farming price, which the groom pays in place of physically going to work in the farm for his father-in-law as in the olden days.
When the day of the traditional marriage arrives, women from the man’s family each carry tubers of yams on their heads in a dancing procession to the bride’s home. The occasion is always said to kick off as soon as the women arrive the bride’s home. During the occasion,
a religious leader is usually called to offer prayers along with both parents for the success of the union. Refreshments are served to the guest present, amidst lots of jubilation prayers for the success of the union.
Thereafter, the colorful occasion would be brought to an end and the new wife’s friends with other women accompany the lady to her home.
BY RUTH AJAKO.