I have come to learn a lot about my culture in the last few months especially as it relates to traditional marriage. In a few weeks, we intend to complete our long delayed Igba nkwu (traditional marriage) after nearly 18 years of church marriage. Here is what I discovered

Three Stages

There are three main stages of the Igbo Traditional marriage namely
1. Iku aka: The introduction
2. Ime ego: The bride price discussion

3. Igba nkwu: The Final traditional wedding ceremony with blessings.  

 

Background
 

Our first initial ceremony (iku aka)was held in December 1998 but due to my dad not being in Nigeria, he told my husband to hold off the final preparations until he was there.  

We went back to London and attempted a traditional ceremony over there but every Igbo person knows that even if you do a lavish Igbo ceremony abroad you must come home to your compound and do the proper one lol.



So life went on, three lovely children came, money was used for more pressing things and we were not able to complete all the traditional rites in the village.

Life Happens
 

Seventeen years later and my beloved father Austin Anukem died suddenly in February 2016, which means, the final part of this important ceremony will be conducted without him.  By God’s grace and in order to honour his memory, we intend to complete the final part of the igba nkwu, the day after his one year memorial event in my village.

Me and My daddy (RIP)

 

 

Iku Aka
 

The first part of the Igbo Traditional Wedding custom is called Iku Aka (door knocking) and ours was performed in 1998. It involved my husband and his family and elders coming to greet my people and to tell them of their intentions to marry me. We had a memorable event back then. My inlaws were warmly welcomed.

My inlaws came to knock on the door (RIP Dr N E Okoye)
My Elders Papa Nze and Papa Head (both RIP)

 

Ime Ego
 
The next stage is the distribution of the mmi ukwu (list) which should be agreed upon at least one week before the ceremony. Depending on your village, the list can be quite long. Most times it’s negotiated down. The groom and his elders usually join the bride’s family and her elders in a private room to discuss the dowry. There is also a negotiator who adds excitement to the delightful exchange.
 
The Dowry
The list is quite interesting and if you are a graduate then your dowry is higher. Because my father is late, there are burial rites which is a ceremony and conducted before the Igba nkwu.

Contrary to popular belief, the daughter is not for sale.The dowry is just a symbol rather than the actual price a bride is worth. I like what Lekia Lee said on my facebook thread, ‘’The bride is priceless and if a price was to be put on the groom and his family, they would never be able to pay it. Its more about making a point about her worth’’.
 
Igba nkwu
 
’’The Igba nkwu is the fundamental open demonstration of his intent to be a husband in the presence of your extended family in your ancestral home. ’’ says Chuba Obi.
Once the list is accepted, the igba nkwu celebrations can begin. The bride dances out for the first time in a simple george wrapper attire and greets her guests.
 
Photo Credit  Facts.ng

Then she dances out again in a more elegant ‘’George’’ attire and is told to find her husband. When she finds him, she kneels and gives him the cup and then he drinks and puts money inside. Chuba says ‘’When the Father of the bride gives his daughter that cup of palm wine and she sips it and passes it to her husband, they become legally married by customary law of Igbo land.
The couple kneel down for blessings from the elders and their parents.
 
Credit: Photography by Demi O
 
The traditional cake has become popular now and it is often used during the ceremony after the blessings.
And then the party begins… dance, dance, dance and jelloficating.
Despite my dad’s passing, I am really happy that we intend to finish this important part of Igbo culture and for my husband ‘’to make an honest traditional woman out of me’’ (His Word’s)…BY GODS GRACE
Some villagers also add the send forth and coming together to make it five ceremonies. Or they combine the initial three and then combine the other two.
 
My super model darling Nephew Kamsi


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