Welcome to another edition of informative articles on Ebira Online Media, in this article we will be looking at the Ebira Traditional Wedding Rites and Procedures. The 2023 Edition. This article is going to be based on my well detailed research on Ebira Marriage Ceremony, Ebira Introduction Ceremony, Otanuvo’Gengwu etc.
Marriage is one of those steps in man’s life that is very very important, this Article will be streamlined to only Ebira Traditional Marriage or Wedding Rites and Procedures.
Traditional Wedding has protocols in every culture across the globe, Ebira People are no exceptions, For the benefit of the youths in particular and for educational purpose, this article most especially this section is intended to serve as a guide to those planning to take a wife the traditional way, or those writing a project.
Note: This is Only for those that still believe in the Custom and traditions of the Ebira People.
Ebira Traditional Wedding Procedures
Let’s list out the procedures an we will explain everything one after the other. Let’s begin the list of procedures followed during an Ebira Traditional Marriage.
- Choice of Partner
- Introduction Procedure
- Taking a Wife
- Duties After Marriage.
Choice of Partner
In the past, choice of Partner is determined by the parents.
The parents use certain standards to judge the suitability of the bride-to-be, the family background will be carefully investigated to ensure that there is no history of family diseases such as leprosy and epilepsy which could be inherited by the unborn children.
It will also carefully checked whether or not the girl was of slave’ parentage (Orihi) and whether or not both of them are children from the same kindred (abara) or clan (iresu).
Inter-marriage with members of these classes of people was strictly prohibited by Ebira’s ancient law and custom back in the days.
But Islam and Christianity has shown us that nothing is bad with it.
Everything I have covered above also applied to the marriage of an Ebira to a non-native of Ebira (anikinami), however, these discriminatory attitudes are gradually phasing out but old habits, they say, are die-hard.
If all the initial checks prove positive, the girl’s personality now comes into focus. Is she respectful and submissive or is she assertive and domineering? Would she be fertile or infertile? Beauty?
That was practically out of the measuring Ebira Traditional Marriage Rites standard for marriage.
Female relatives married into or close to the family of the girl were used as spies to get relevant information on the personal details of the girl, if the girl was able to scale this second hurdle also, then she will be considered the right choice and the man’s family could advance to the next step.
In our time now, things have changed radically. Youths make their own choice of life partners with little or no interference from their parents.
A prospective husband first contacts the parents of his would-be bride through a family friend who is also a friend of the bride’s family.
This is followed by a visit of the would-be husband and his contact person to the
family of the intended spouse, the suitor is introduced to the parents of the girl and his purpose of the visit is also explained by the go-between, it is normal at this stage for the parents of the girl to give a discouraging answer like this:
“My child is not yet ripe for marriage so I advise you to look elsewhere” or “Many suitors have come before you so I am sorry that you are too late’.
Despite such discouraging responses, the suitor repeats the visit over and over again with friends and relatives.
He renews his request making passionate appeals for consideration. At this stage, he may be asked to come with his parent or guardian if he is serious, a date is fixed for this, it is during the meeting of both parents which was often fixed on a market day that the father of the would-be bride makes known his acceptance of the marriage proposal.
This is called introduction ceremony in this age, this is still happening but, everything we covered in the first phase of this article is repeated by the would-be bride family members “Choice of Partner”, they will carry out their own investigations to know if they can give out their daughter into such family.
The suitor then gives some money to the girl on leaving. If the girl accepts it, it is a coded message of acceptance of the proposal by the girl herself.
The traditional engagement rites take place the third day after the acceptance of the proposal (again a market day). Traditional gifts of tubers of yams, fish, and other assorted items are sent to the family of the girl. This is
called “oyi tura isa ewere”. A date is then fixed for the real traditional wedding ceremony. The suítor goes to the family of the bride with his friends, relatives, and other well-wishers. Fat yams, fish or meat of grass-cutter, clothes, palm oil, and other assorted gifts are taken along with monetary gifts.
ln Ebira Traditional Marriage Rites, the presence of all the visitors and the girl’s family members, the father of the bride asks her to come forward and identify her husband among the seated gentlemen present. The girl, putting up all pretext of shyness is coaxed and prompted to go and point to or touch the suitor. When this is done, a dialogue ensues between the girl and her father thus:
Father: Is this the man you have chosen to be your husband?
Daughter: Yes, father.
Father: Did I force you to accept him as your husband?
Daughter: No, father.
Father: Tomorrow, if you start to see that there is someone else more handsome or richer, I would have no hand in it. This is the man you have shown me and henceforth, he is your husband.
Questions and answers sessions also go on between the father of the bride and the groom as to whether or not they are hungry and wanted to sell their daughter to a rich son-in-law to overcome poverty. Or it is their daughter who has come to beg him to marry her.
The answers, of Ebira Traditional Wedding Rites, are always in the negative. Finally, the father advises the suitor to treat his bride as he would want his sister treated. She is an unintelligent girl, he would say, but whatever misdeed she may have committed, report to me instead of beating her up. I am giving her to you as a wife, not as a slave.
After Ebira Traditional Marriage Rites, the suitor’s father also gives some words of admonition to the couple. The bridegroom, his parents, and relatives fall on their knees to thank the family of the bride. The preliminary expenses as bridewealth are also made. They include: “o tana uv ge”, “oo ze mi eyi”, “ękehį įdoza oniri ekehi eche”, “ekehị onyi ozi”, and other miscellaneous expenses. The amount paid for each of these is not uniform all over Ebiraland. They also undergo
constant upward review from time to time.
What is now in vogue is that all these are paid in bulk without undergoing the process of itemization which is often fraught with arguments and bargaining. As of the year 2022, the bulk sum range between N20,000- N50,000 depending on the disposition of the bride’s family. The next stage is “o va yę irehi” when the bride visits the husband’s house for the first time. The husband’s relatives give the bride monetary gifts.
The real bridewealth ranging from N200 to N5,000 could be paid at any time depending on when the bride’s parents demand it. At times, it could be after the bride has got an issue with the husband. But after the visit which we have just discussed, the remaining expenses come after the consummation of the
Taking a Wife
When the husband considers his wife ripe enough, he starts frequenting his mother-in-law’s house in the evening and keeping late hours there. He keeps close to his mother-in-law dancing in attendance to her. His father follows this up by going to complain to the in-laws that their wife is “grown”.
The mother consents after some deliberate delays and tells the father to ask the son to come in the evening. When the husband goes, he is rebuffed and asked to come back the following day. The following evening, the mother-in-law asks the husband to go and buy his “Enya uhu” if he wants to have carnal knowledge of his wife.
On a set day, the husband is “given” his wife after first paying a mat fee (ekehi uvenę). Both husband and the wife armed with the sex education given to them just that evening (to the husband by the father and to the wife by her mother) have their first sexual contact.
At dawn the following day, the husband meets the mother-in-law, who asks if he “met” his wife, (i.e. if the wife is a virgin). If he does “meet” his wife as a virgin, he pays a virgin fee to the mother which is known as “ekehi uhu” and another to the wife (o si uvo ka ode).
If he meets that his wife is no more a virgin, he pays no fee. This is followed by going to buy “ita orihi” (i.e. maturity cloth) for the wife. This is done by the husband taking the wife to the market and she chooses any cloth which the husband will buy for her.
The third “oyi tura isa” is done by sending some yams and ahead of cassava to the in-laws. After all these, the husband may request taking his wife. There is no fixed time for this. When and how this occurs depend on the
compromise between the two families. It is however important to mention that if rain falls the day one takes his wife, it is considered a bad omen. The wife returns to her parents to be taken another day.
Duties after Marriage & Ebira Traditional Wedding Rites
Apart from being responsible for the upkeep of the wife, the husband has some other duties to the in-laws. He is expected to send food regularly to the mother-in-law and organize annual “idoza”( group farming) and send palm-wine to his in-laws during important cultural festivals such as Ekweechi and Echane.