Marriage Custom of the Ibo People
Marriage is an important custom in Ibo land. Marriage is a union between a man and a woman as husband and wife. Marriage as an essential and very critical aspect of human development. It involves series of stages as demanded by customs to ensure its success and sustainability. These series of stages differs with ethnic groups.
Among the Ibos, a man in the course of going about with normal life functions and activities may come across a girl he likes. This could be in the market, or on her way to or from a stream, farm or at any social gathering. He approaches the girl, and depending on how he chooses to start the relationship, but most men starts by casual affairs which eventually graduates into an intimate relationship. At this stage the man has already discloses his motive to the girl. Nevertheless some men rather choose to be straightforward, therefore as soon as they have opportunity to speak to the girl, he proposes to her right away. Either of the approaches a man uses following the lady’s approval of the man’s proposal, whenever they are ready to marry, the man together with some of his friends, and his father formally visit the lady’s parents. This is traditionally refers to as iku- Aka or the introduction. It is just for the boy’s father to inform the lady’s parents of his son’s interest to marry their daughter. The man will have to go straight and discuss about marriage with the lady’s parents. Both the boy and the girl must agree with each other, and followed by the lady’s parents approval to let their daughter marry to the proposed husband. This then ushered in the process of introduction and marital rites which is traditionally known as Ime-ego Nwanyi.
At this stage the boy comes with palmwine and kolanut and other items and drinks. This is done with the in-laws of the nuclear and extended families. During the ime -ego, the Umunna is expected to be present on that day. Then if the girl’s father is late, the eldest man in the family stands out to represent him. The husband to be is expected to bring all items that is in the list given to him by the girls family ,ie drinks, yam, kolanut, goat,etc.
Proceeding this stage is what is called the Igba-nkwu nwanyi. Here the proposed husband comes with his family, kins and kiths. This is the juncture where the full marital rites are to be performed. During the marital rite there is a kind of display in which the lady is given palm wine to take to her proposed husband, the essence is for the girl to show publicly her willingly approval of the marriage between her and the proposed husband; the husband to be now takes the wife to be to her father who now blesses the marriage. The cup has to be returned with a token of money. Then followed by ogomarabe, an essential process that comes after the bride parents blessing of the union.
After the marriage, ogomara followed. It is a kind of escortion that involves some of the bride’s family going together with the lady to her husband house. During this time a celebration is made, and the essence of the escortion is to know the actual community where their daughter is married. It can be done anytime the both families are ready for it.