A Typical Hausa Traditional Marriage Rite


The Hausa population resides mostly in Northern parts of Nigeria.  They constitute about half of the Nigeria populace and speak Hausa language; though in different dialects.

The Hausa traditional marriage rites is based mostly on Islamic jurisdictions.   The   ceremony is not time consuming and mostly less expensive compared to Igbo and Yoruba traditional marriages.

When a man sees the girl he wants to marry, he will first seek permission from her parents.  The family of the future bride will then conduct investigation on the man to ascertain his religious believes, moral, ethics and other issues related to his background.  He is allowed to see the girl only if he meets their expectations.  The man is not allowed to spend a lot of time when seeing the girl according to Hausa tradition.  Physical contacts, romance and courtship before marriage are highly discouraged.

Once the girl accepts the marriage offer, the man sends his parents or guardians to formally seek the permission of the girl’s parents in marriage.  The Hausa’s are not monolithic so steps in seeking the girl’s hand in marriages varies among different groups within Hausa communities.

However, the most common method used in seeking the girl’s hand in marriage includes the grooms parents or guardians visiting the bride’s parents with some gifts items such as Kolanuts, traditional sweets and in some cases bags of salt.

The family of the intending Groom’s makes their intention known during the visit. Gaisuwa is a formal form of approval from the family of the Bride to the Groom’s proposal and it is during this meeting that the Bride price is agreed upon by both parties.  The Bride price starts from the minimum amount called “Rubu Dinar” in Hausa, an Arabic phrase translated as “quarter kilogram of gold piece” to the highest amount the man can afford to pay.  The preference is however for the Bride price to be as affordable as possible because Islam teaches that the less amount paid as bride price produces the most blessed marriage.

The wedding date is set during the visit by both which is known as ‘Sa rana’ meaning date fixing.  It is part of the Hausa tradition for the Groom to provide a house while furnishing the house is the full responsibility of the Bride’s family.

Wuni/sa lalle is an event strictly for the ladies. This is when the Bride gets to spend the last bit of free time with her friends and female members of her family, in her father’s house. A mixture of henna is made and used to make beautiful designs on her hands, palms and legs. Her friends and family also get henna designs on their hands but not as elaborate as the bride.

The wedding date is called ‘daurin aure’.  It is the day of wedding Solemnization by the two families upon payment of the Bride price referred to as sadaki on that same day.

Culturally, a representative each from both families usually do the exchange of vows in the presence of a religious leader and many invited guests and prayers are offered to the newly wedded couple. The wedding fatihah is the most significant event of the entire wedding ceremony even though women are not allowed to participate in it. They remain indoors, busy preparing the Bride for her transition from a single lady to a married woman. This event is similar is similar to bridal shower or send forth.

The wedding reception known as the Walimah is conducted according to the taste of the families involved. It is usually held after the wedding Fatihah (daurin aure) and it goes on for a whole day with food and drinks available for family, friends and well-wishers.

At the end of the celebration, the Bride is taken from her Parents house to that of her husband’s which is called Kai amariya. Family and friends escort the Bride to her matrimonial home to be well received by the Groom’s family.

This is usually preceded by prayers and advises from her family, in-laws and friends. This is not the end of events in the Hausa cultural marriage. Depending on how affluent the families are.

In some parts of Hausa land, “Sayan baki” takes place. This is a negotiation between the Groom’s men and the Bridesmaids, debating on the amount to be paid before the Bride speaks to her groom.

By Mercy KuKah


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