Idoma style of wedlock
The Idoma people live in central Nigeria, Benue State. They can trace their roots to the Zulu tribe of South Africa, who are mainly warriors. Some of their subgroups are the Adors, Otupas, Ogbadibos, Apas, Ofokanus and Owukpas.
In most cultural groups in Nigeria, traditional marriage is an arrangement between two families rather than an arrangement between two individuals.
Marriage in Idoma land is considered a lifelong state of union, although divorce is possible on the grounds of Infidelity.
When an Idoma man is about twenty-five years old and has the financial and physical capability to maintain a wife and children, he searches for a woman of his choice, who must be at least eighteen years old. He informs his family of his desire and they will in turn choose a go-between (a person who is familiar with the girl's family).
The go-between investigates the family of the prospective bride to ascertain that the family has no history of specific ailments e.g. mental disease, epilepsy, and/or similar problems. If the result of this investigation is positive, the prospective groom's family visits the woman's family with gifts of Kolanut and Hot drinks.
DATE/LIST OF MARRIAGE ITEMS
During the initial introduction, the date for the wedding ceremony is proposed by the husband to be and his family. After much deliberation, an acceptable date is reached by both families. On the same day, a list of required traditional items to be brought to the girl’s family on the day of the engagement is given to the man. The items differ from ethnic group to ethnic group.
Basic among these items are:
1. Walking stick, Cap and Cloths for the Father of the girl
2. Cloth for the Mother of the girl
3. Some tubers of Yam
4. One or two bags of Salt
5. A she goat
6. Some bottles of Palm Oil
7. Hot Drinks
8 A Suitcase for the wife to be
The bride's mother buys her cooking utensils and food because she is not expected to go to the market for the first five market days after her marriage.
These items (which are more than those listed in the list above) are brought to the family of girl on the engagement day, signifying that the husband-to-be can take care of his wife.
Before the bride is handed over to her husband, her age group will pose as a mock barrier to those who want to take her and extort money from the anxious groom's family.
PAYMENT OF THE BRIDE PRICE (THE DOWRY)
On the engagement day and in addition to the bride-price, the groom must pay a dowry first to the bride's mother and then another dowry to the father; this involves a significant amount of bargaining. Also every member of the bride's mother's family must be given money, with the groom's family determining the amount. The bride's age group and her more distant relatives also are given money, with the amount varying with level of the bride's education and productivity. Then the groom's family gives the bride a rooster and some money. If she accepts these gifts and gives them to her mother, she indicates her acceptance of the groom and is showered with gifts and money, but if she refuses to marry the man after these gifts have been provided, the bride’s family will return everything.
At the end of the eating and drinking, the wife is finally handed over to her husband's family.
Ideally, the bride is expected to be a virgin, as it is a source of pride and joy to her family. If she is found not to be a virgin, she is taken to the husband's family' ancestral shrine for cleansing. After cleansing, the Ije (an ancestral sash) is put on her to invoke fertility.
The Idoma traditional wedding is a more extensive process that what is written above, but we have just highlighted the key scenes.
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