Ibibio Traditional Wedding


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


1. Football
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


Insult to the Family for making her have a baby before "marriage” attracts -
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!


Update - 14/12/2010

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.


by Joy Joy added over 4 years ago

i thot it was only the ibo's that had a suicidal list?
i wonder which list is longer? ibibio's or ibo's?
God help the men to have the love to go through all this.

*This comment has been removed by one of the site moderators

*This comment has been removed by one of the site moderators

by John Chima added over 4 years ago


by Chinwe Mary added about 4 years ago

ehhhhhhhhhhhhhh, men it is easy to be a man

by Ese added about 4 years ago

MEN, this case is very serious

by Gabriel added about 4 years ago

Na my wedding team, i think you guys are being bias, and i also think you guys should carry out a thorough investigation before you post things on your site, i am from Akwa Ibom, and happily married, and my list was no where near what u have listed above, i also have friends who are married and i took my time to carry out a survey and that 'so called list' of yours is not what an average list is like.
We know we have some greedy families that ask for alot, but i know for sure in every culture we have such families too, you guys should get your facts right before displaying things on your website

by Felix Femi added about 4 years ago

why not focus on the beauty and rich cultural display of the ibibio wedding rather than this long list u guys are writting to scare away potential suitors of an ibibio lady, i have recently collected my fiance's marriage list who happens to come from Akwa Ibom and i think you guys have over exaggerated 'an example of a what a list might look like',

by Eyitemi Sillo added about 4 years ago

i think it varies,based on a lot of factors,cos i experienced one,where i was a coz to the groom,and it never went this way @@@ all. NA MY WEDDING,DO S/FIN BOUT THE ITSHEKIRI'S.

by Abasiama Eminue added about 4 years ago

There are too many things WRONG with this article..
First up, Akwaibomtes are NOT generally called Ibibios. Akwaibom state is made up of three major tribes, namely: Ibibio, Annang & Oron. Othere tribes exist such as the Ibenos from Eket, etc. All these tribes are distinct & have their peculiar dialects, we do not all speak Ibibio, so we are not all Ibibios.
Second, "an example of what a list might look like" is absolutely false & misleading. Did you really do you research before putting this article up? You must have goot this list from a very unrelaible source as it is so misleading.
Weddings in Akwaibom state are NOT conducted like those in Ibo land. And this traditional attire pictured here is NOT worn by all tribes in Akwaibom state. It is specifiaclly worn by the Oron people who have similar cultural traits with the Efiks of Cross river state, and in some cases, those from Uruan.
I am from Akwaibom state & i am getting married to an Ibo man from Anambra state in a few months. The list looks ABSOLUTELY DIFFERENT from what you have put up here..& by the way, my bride price is 17 Great Britain Pounds (exchange rate is 1 pound to a naira, just like in the olden day). This article is in bad taste, to say the least. You should get your facts right before publishing such balderdash!

by Eka added about 4 years ago

This article in wrong and misleading. That is a descriptions of an efik wedding. The bride in the picture is an Efik bride. So The author needs to do a little more investigating before providing wrong information.

by stephanie ekpo added about 4 years ago

nice one.....

by blessing jimmy added about 4 years ago

There are mistakes in this article...the picture display is that of efik traditional marriage and not ibibio.
The list above-mentioned is beguiling, If it were so...men would not have been marrying ibibio ladies. Researches should be done thoroughly and not superficially because an article like this may insult the sensibilities of the people concerned.

by Joy Joy added about 4 years ago

now blessing with the attached list what do you have to say?

by Roberta Edu added about 4 years ago

There is nothing wrong with this article, (i mean not even one thing wrong with it), firstly NaMyWedding can not put on all the bridal clothes from the three ethnic group in Akwa Ibom State, so if they have put on the Oron/Uruan own, there is nothing wrong with it, secondly the list differs from family and the type of lady they are getting married to, the pocket of the groom and family etc, for example, my second sister got married after she finish secondary school to an average business man, the list was no where close to what we have here, but when my elder sister graduated from university and got married to a co-graduate, their list was exactly what i am seeing here, so please that's the standard list, if your family just want to pity your husband or any other thing that made them not to include all those stuff there, it does not now delete those things from the traditional marriage list, MY PEOPLE THAT'S THE NORMAL LENGTH OF THE LIST

by ibibiogrl added almost 4 years ago

DAMN RIGHT! Roberta! This is the basic ibibio traditional list, even on the traditional wedding day the bride is not brought out immediately to the groom until him and his family gives more gifts like wine and mostly money to the family women who are bringing out his bride. So the women might bring out 3 or more false bride until the feel satisfied with the groom's gift.
The bride's parent mostly don't demand too much, but it is the extended families that usually insist. That's why parent abroad may get demand very little, but if they're to go back to Nigeria for the wedding, then the extended family of the bride will provide the detail list. In few cases grand parent whether decease or alive are added, and given gift as well. The list gets expensive depending on how educated the bride is.
The advantage is that polygamy is scarce because most people can not afford to marry more than one wife.

by Eddie added over 3 years ago

True....there is nothing wrong with the article. The research was a successful one and as for the bride price? It varies. Like they rightfully said everything depends on the financial status of the guy.

by Joy Joy added almost 3 years ago

je......su ...help us o , naija

by grace added almost 3 years ago

I loooooooooove dis article. NA MY WEDDING pls ignore d discouragements and move on. My neighbour is a living withness cos he ws a victim 2yrs ago. Infact his wife had to borrow some money frm d villagers for him to return home with his pple.

by Sedina Essien added almost 3 years ago

As far as I know, the bride does not look for the groom, but the other way around. The groom begs the family of the bride for the bride. Pls. correct me if I'm wrong.

by E. Nelson Essiet added almost 3 years ago

A good documentary except for one critically important addition to the introductory part. The author attempted a meaning of the word Ibibio. To buttress his point and to avoid misconceptions, a further explanation is required. True, the name "Ibibio" absolutely has nothing to do do with the height of the people or their brief way of doing things per se. It does not connote lack of detail, insight, or depth of knowledge either ( ... and in fairness, the author did not insinuate these). Rather, it is an unfortunate product of stereotypic characterization of the people in the area by the early white visitors. During the interactions of these early visitors with locals through their interpreters, the phrase "ke ibio-ibio usung" (meaning "briefly put" or "briefly"), clearly stood out. On the one hand, it was the way the locals, especially the chiefs and elders briefly and succintly put across their points, and on the other it was a favorite phrase used by the interpreters to inform the locals of how briefly the white invaders preferred them to present their information. For lack of a suitable name for the people, the early visitors simply characterized our people by the name "Ibibio" in every of their documentation. The name is an adultrated (anglicized) version of the dominant phrase "ibio-ibio usung" they were always used to hearing from the locals.

by mary edet tom added over 2 years ago

i am an ibibiogirl getting married traditionally tomorrow to an itsekiri man nd candidly speaking dis list thing is uncalled for in dis era where young men are struggling to make ends meet. it took geniune love on d part of my fiance's pple to go tru d process. it takes less down a 100k to marry an urhobo girl, lesser for an itsekiri, but more down half a million to marry an ibibio girl. its worst wen d girl is a graduate and a first daughter. intertribal marriage encourages peace among different tribes, and one's marriage a day of joy, but wen blood sucking lists are gvn and d groom y dancing is calculating all d debts to b paid, where is d happiness in d marriage

by Henrietta added over 1 year ago

Well done! But, this article is misleading o.... Do you know what that attire above signifies? Starting from the head to toe, each has meaning, the metal comb (on that maiden's head) you see there means the coming of the age of a maiden in Efik tradition (Calabar people) in Cross River State. Please, go and look for the Ibibio (in Akwa Ibom State) traditional marriage attire and do not snatch the Efik attire.. The ibibio traditional attire is a twisted gathered short skirt and and a short top with head- tie (scarf) around the arms.

As for the marriage list, that is correct. That is the Ibibio traditional marriage list but, the attire you have above is definitely not theirs.

by TrueTalk added 3 months ago

Enough is enough! This is extremely misleading....Ibibio people have been misleading people over the years that they share the same culture as the Efiks. First it started with deceiving everyone that they were from 'Calabar', then they went on to claiming Efik food (eg. Afang soup, edikang ikong, etc), bearing Efik names, then their men started dressing exactly the same as Efik men, they started claiming ekombi (Efik dance) and even wearing the Efik traditional dance outfits, they tried to steal Ekpe (why aren't they proud of Ekpo Ibibio?) but unfortunately for them they don't even understand the concept or history behind Ekpe, and now Ibibio girls have the nerve to wear onyonyon and more annoyingly, Efik combs? That is taking it too far. They don't even know the history behind the dressing or even how to wear it. Even Oron people, who have the right to do so, considering the fact that they share ancestral lineage or heritage with Efiks,..still know their boundaries because they are proud of their own culture. So why then are Ibibios fond of stealing other peoples' culture. Now that Akwa Ibom has a governor who has started giving Ibibios confidence in themselves (which is a good thing), Akwa Ibom people have now decided that they are no longer interested in claiming to be from Calabar (just as the author of this article wrote in his/her first paragraph), so what they do now is say they are Ibibio and proud but yet the culture which they are claiming as Ibibio culture, is in fact the Efik (Calabar) culture and all the damage has been done to the Efiks already because of all the bad connotations that Ibibios have left us with such as promiscuity and always serving as house helps/maids....people always call these people 'Calabar' people, yet they are all Ibibios. eg. No Efik person would bear Ekaette as a real name because we know it is just a nickname, but Ibibios who do not know or understand that, use Efik nicknames as real names, because they want to bear Efik names at all cost. Now even their musicians can't sing one single song without deliberately trying to misinform people that they are from Calabar. For instance, MC Galaxy or whatever he is called had the audacity to sing 'I go Calabar, I see Godswill Akpabio' as if he (an Ibibio man) does not know that Akpabio is the governor of Akwa Ibom, not Cross River....(Calabar is the capital of Cross River). And to insult Efiks more, the dancers in the video dance the most popular Efik dance (Ekombi) dressed in Efik attires (Ibibios would never showcase their own traditional dance attires; they would rather wear Efik ones) and the women in the video are wearing Efik combs and holding Efik staffs which are very symbolic as they are only used for Efik weddings and chieftaincy ceremonies, but an Ibibio man wouldn't know that, would he?..as he is more concerned about how he would give everyone the impression that Efik culture is his, but would call it Ibibio culture to deceive everyone. Now the false word is being spread through music and deceptive articles such as this one. The wrong information in this article wasn't written in error, it was written to mislead the public just as other false information all over the internet has been delivered by Ibibios such as misleading articles on Wikipedia, etc deceiving the world that the Efik tribe is a sub-group of the Ibibio tribe. I wonder how that is possible, given the history of both tribes. Have you ever wondered why there is an Obong of Calabar and no Obong of Uyo? You guys can't erase or change history, no matter how much you lie! Accept your true identity, promote it and embrace it. This deceit must stop! And Efiks...wake up and stop being timid! You need to be assertive about the truth! You must correct such lies, if not, one day you would wake up and find that your entire culture was stolen and taken away from you with your eyes wide open!

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