A lot of people always confuse Calabar and Akwa-Ibom as the same place, but though Akwa-Ibom was carved out of Cross river State, it is a different state on its own. The names and languages of people from these parts might sound alike, but in the end all three, Rivers (capital PortHarcourt); Akwa-Ibom (capital Uyo); and Crossriver (capital Calabar) are all different places…
The Akwa-Ibom people who are generally called the Ibibio people, are found predominantly in Akwa-Ibom state, and are made up of the related Annang community, the Ibibio community and the Eket and Oron Communities. "Ibio-ibio" means short or brief and doesn't have anything to do with height of the Ibibios... funny yeah! The name was given due the Ibibios brief way of doing things.
Now that you know a little bit about the history and location of the Ibibio lets educate you about the main subject of the day “the Ibibio traditional marriage”.
When a man proposes to a woman and of course the woman accepts, they are then required to go and see the woman’s parents, this is called “Ndidiong Ufok” which means “ to know the house” of the lady. You could call it an introduction. During this, not many people are expected to go with the groom just about 3 - 4 people would be okay, but if more people are to go then the bride’s family must be informed of the number of people that will be showing up so they can make proper arrangements, especially as the family of the bride is mandated by custom to cook and welcome the members of the groom’s family like special guests.
The next step is the ‘knocking of the door’; the date for the “Nkong Udok/ Nkong Usong (depending on the dialect)” is set after the ‘Ndidiong Ufok’,So after the family of the groom has gotten to know the house of the girl then they can come and knock on the door and officially ask for the lady’s hand.
The knocking on the door is more or less the same as in the Yoruba tradition or the Igbo tradition, where family of the groom comes and asks for the girl that they are looking for in the house and in turn collect the "list" provided by the Father and elders of the girls family .
In the Ibibio tradition the grooms family has to buy some things for the family of the bride, hence the list, which would include things for each member of the lady’s family from the youngest to the oldest.
The day that the things or items on the list are to be delivered is called the ‘Uno Mpo’, which means to “to give something”.
Traditionally, this list is a way of compensating the family of the lady by the family members of the groom’ for talking away a member of their family thus reducing the number of hands that would have helped in the farm or with cooking and taking care of the house. Of course today, there are no farms to help out with but in most cases, but tradition is tradition.
The date of the delivery of the items is usually settled on at the ‘Nkong Udok/ Nkong Usong’.
The next thing to follow all these events is the traditional wedding. This is where all the hair and clothing that you would probably have seen in pictures or videos are donned; the bride and groom dress in full traditional regalia sometimes like a prince or princess (depending on their own tastes of course) etc. The ceremony takes place more or less like the Igbo Traditional wedding, from the hiding of the groom to the wife looking for him with the drink given to her by her parents to offer him.
All these events are handled according to the purse size of the families involved, and in recent times, people choose to do all or some of these events together and sometimes skip some parts all together in a bid to reduce the length of the whole ceremony.
Here is an example of a what a list might look like, and please note that these lists are negotiable and are according to the wealth status or purses of the families involved.
Traditional List (to be purchased by Grooms family for the bride’s family):
Father: A square bottled hot drink, native gin, head of tobacco, he goat, machete with sheathe, some cash, wrappers (wrapped on the 4 corner hot drink), jar of palm wine, singlets, pants, traditional attire, hat, shoes, crates of beer, soft drinks, whiskey, walking stick, cognac e.t.c (the list can be more extensive depending on the area).
Mother: A She goat, basin of pepper, bag of salt, blouses, wrappers, box of assorted clothing pressed down, basin of crayfish, pants, bras, crates of soft drinks, cartons of wine, cash etc…
Village Women: Crates of soft drinks, wine, malt, brooms and cash.
Youth: Football, crates of beer, jar of palm wine, native gin, cash.
All these are dependent on the different dialects/areas or villages, in some areas, the grandparents from both sides are included, cousins, in-laws etc…
Here are some other extras that could appear in the list:
Consultation marriage list for the father (MBUP):
1. 2 bottles of three in one whisky
2. 1 carton of ‘Explendido’ Brandy
3. 10 liters of native gin
4. 10 cartons of star beer
5. 6 bottles of Gordon Gin
6. 3 cartons of small stout
7. 1 carton of wine
8. 10 Jars of palm wine
9. 3 Heads of Tobacco
10. 3 line stones
11. 3 bunches of cola nuts
12. 1 bottle of grinding sniff
13. 1 roll of Benson and hedges cigarette
14. 1 packet of matches
15. Cash of N5, 000.00 for breaking of cola
Full Proper Marriage List for the father:
1. 2 pieces of hollandis Wax
2. 1 Chieftaincy shirt
3. 1 hat
4. 1 big towel
5. 1 pair of shoes and socks
6. 1 walking stick
7. 1 wristwatch
8. 1 dozen pairs of underwear
9. 1 she goat with N10, 000.00 for cutting goat’s head
10. Matchet with cover and beet
11. 15 cartons of star beer
12. 5 cartons of champion beer
13. 2 cartons of brandy
14. 3 bottles of 3 in one whisky
15. 1 carton of wine (Don Morris)
16. 5 crates of minerals (Soft drinks)
17. 4 crates of Guinness malt
18. 4 heads of Tobacco
19. 1 bottle of grinding snuff
20. 4 line stones
21. 4 bunches of cola nuts
22. 1 small basin and knife for the cola nuts
23. 15 Jars of palm win
24. 20 liters of native gin
25. 1 modern brief case with N150, 000.00
For the mother – consultation (MBUP):
1. 6 bottles of Campari hot drink
2. 4 crates of minerals (soft drinks)
3. 2 crates of Guinness Malts
4. I piece of English wax
5. 1 blouse
6. 1 basin with cover full of crayfish
7. 1 Head tie
8. 2 bags of salt
9. Basin with pepper
For the Mother – Full marriage (proper marriage):
1. 2 pieces of Dutch Wax and one lace
2. 3 assorted blouses
3. Head tie (canopy)
4. 2 Paris of shoes
5. One wrist watch + 1 dozen of brassieres
6. A hand bag and 6 pairs of underwear
7. 1 big basin full of crayfish with cover
8. 1 big basin full of pepper with cover
9. 3 bags of salt
10. 1 umbrella
11. 1 suit – case with N50, 000.00
12. 1 carton of Eva wine
13. 1 big bottle of Yago wine
14. 4 crates of Guinness malt
15. 4 crates of minerals (soft drinks)
16. 1 bag of rice
17. 5 tubers of yams
Nto Ete (family members):
1. 3 cartons of star beer
2. 1 bottles of St. Remy
3. 3 Jars of palm wine
4. 1 roll of Benson and hedges cigarette
5. 1 pack of matches
6. Nka Ekong of N10, 000.00
2. 1 bottle of gin
3. 1 roll of St. Morris cigarette
4. 1 packet of matches
5. N2, 000.00
Iban Nda Usung (Women Vanguard):
1. 1 bottle of wine
2. 1 crates of minerals (soft drink)
3. N1, 500.00 in cash
Grand Father (Uncle):
1. Piece of wax loin cloth
2. 1 long sleeves shirt
3. 1 bottle of brandy
4. 1 wristwatch.
Edem Eka (mother's people):
1. 1 carton of beer
2. 1 bottle of brandy
3. 1 Jar of palm wine
4. 1 piece of English wax
5. 1 long sleeves shirt
6. 1 bag of salt
1. One She Goat
2. One bottle of St. Remy
3. Two Carton of Star Beer
4. Two crates of soft drinks
5. One bottle of native gin
6. Two Bottles of wine
7. N10, 000.00
…’Hmmph’, getting married is serious business o!
Due to the "strongly voiced disagreement" in some of our comments from our readers, we have had to turn our searchlight on the Ibibio traditional marraige once again. This time we unleashed our native (from Akwa Ibom) namywedding team member on it and here's what we found.
Strongly Voice Disagreement 1: "Akwaibomtes are NOT generally called Ibibios"
Answer: Yes they are. Historically, even the Efiks were called "riverine Ibibios" by the early anthropologists before enough cultural differences were discovered to warrant being identified as a seperate tribe.
Strongly Voice Disagreement 2: "The real list isn't that long"
Answer: Yes it is (with a caveat). Some families request more things than others and as such this isn't a very general statement. However in most cases it is that long - the idea being that you need to negotiate. We have added a second list (all five pages of it) to support the first and this time we haven't transcribed it as some of the essence could be lost in translation.