THE TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE SERIES: EFIK TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE AND THE FATTENING ROOM (NKUHO) - an Efik tradition!

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The Fattening Room is an aged old tradition of the Efik people of Calabar, which has been greatly modified for today's generation. This ancient tradition is the training given to young women while they are in seclusion to prepare them for marriage and womanhood.
The Efik send their women to 'fattening rooms' in preparation for marriage. Further modification of the fattening process requires women to go away to 'beauty rooms' instead. I would be very envious of any woman who spent 6 months being pampered from head to foot with massages using oils from natural plants, soaking in mud baths and eating scrumptious dishes while she reads a few books and engaged in meaningful and stimulating conversations to prepare her to be the partner of a 'wealthy and important' man who can obviously afford such a 'beauty room'. Wow!

Prince Edem recently described best the social importance of the fattening rooms in a recent BBC article on the subject when he stated, "People will think I am not rich, if a woman is not fat and has not gone through that process, means she does not qualify for marriage." He then went on to explain his 'revulsion' for slim women, clarifying that he could never marry one, as slim women hold no appeal for him.
During the fattening period the girl is being cared for by older women not her mother but maybe her aunts or village elders (women) and is not allowed to come in contact with other people. She is put in a room where on a daily basis, is massaged three times, fed about six large portions of food (like porridge ekpang, plantain, yam fufu and assorted pepper soups), drinks three pints of water three times and gets plenty of sleep. This process ensures the bride gets a healthy waistline - The bigger the better!
In some places the fattening room is divided into 3 stages – some months before marriage, a week before marriage and after childbirth.
According to the Efik people, they believe a woman who is full-figured with a healthy waistline is beautiful.
 
 
Activities
In the Fattening Room the girl goes through domestic training of home management (like cooking, childcare and housekeeping) and how to respect and make her husband to be and his family happy. The older women give advice about their experience in marriage to ensure a successful one.
Another important part of Efik cultural training are the cultural dances (Ekombi), folklore, folktales, songs and other forms of entertainment. Skills in artistic designs on Calabash and other materials are taught as well. All this, is to prepare her for marriage and womanhood. Efik women (and men) take great pride in this time-honored tradition of fattening brides before marriage. I have indeed heard stories of girls who were refused by a fiancé’s family because their stature was not befitting a proper rotund bride.
After she had been fattened up, the husband continues to maintain her weight through feeding her up on garri, a sort of porridge made from cassava tubers, and native salads, known as Ekpan Koko and Oto. Rice, beans, more meat and fish are also added to her diet to make her more robust and big to maintain the stature the husband wants her to be.
She is taught all about sex (satisfying her husband), dances, food (how to cook her way to his heart), home keeping and managing in-laws.
At the end of the seclusion period, people all over are invited to witness the graduation ceremony to honor her success in passing through this ordeal. This ceremony is celebrated with traditional Efik dances (Ekombi) and other forms of entertainment. This big feast and merriment continues throughout the whole day and night as families, friends and well wishers express their joy and happiness with gifts and donations to the bride. Finally she and her future husband embrace and dance; welcoming everybody that has come to join the celebration. All these are done amidst cheers from the crowd.
Traditional Marriage List
Father
ü Schnapps hot drink (native gin)
ü Head of tobacco
ü He-goat
ü Machete with sheathe
ü Some cash
ü Wrappers(wrapped around the hot drink)
ü Jar of palm wine
ü Singlets
ü Pants
ü Traditional attire
ü Hat
ü Shoes
ü Crates of beer
ü Soft drinks
ü Whiskey
ü Cognac
ü Walking stick.

Mother
ü She goat
ü Basin of pepper
ü Bag of salt
ü Blouses
ü Wrappers
ü Box of assorted clothes
ü Basin of crayfish
ü Undergarments
ü Crates of soft drinks
ü Cartons of wine, cash etc
 
Village Women
ü Crates of soft drinks
ü Wine
ü Malt
ü Brooms
ü Cash.
 
Youth
ü Football
ü Crates of beer
ü Jar of palm wine
ü Native gin
ü Cash
The list can be more extensive than this depending on the area/tribe.  In some areas, grandparents, cousins, in-laws etc are included.
 
If the fattening room practice is about beauty, which it arguably is, then we need to modify our understanding of beauty; we can therefore say Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.
 
... Moral lesson, Whether you are thin or fat, you are beautiful to someone.

6 comments

by JANNIE added almost 4 years ago

BUT THIS IS NOT PRACTISED ANY LONGER. NOT EVEN IN REMOTE VILLAGES. HOWEVER, IT'S USUAL FOR HISTORY

by ISpeakTheTruth added over 3 years ago

wow! this is quite enlightening....heard abt the fattening process, i just never knew it was this intense. i would def like such a treatment sha....lol

by Harry Nick added over 3 years ago

These days people are just too busy to create time for these varieties and processes. In the end our culture is fast going into extinction!

by Abiba Saliu added over 3 years ago

Enlightening!.....But no matter how u look ,u must still b giving some1 sleepless night...Lol

by adebayo added over 1 year ago

its nice but the list is what is chasing the non akwa-ibom people from marrying them.
they can cut the list down and let it be friendly and approach able.

by Henrietta added over 1 year ago

Yeah....!! This is very correct. True talk!
Above, is exactly the Efik (Calabar people, in cross river State) traditional marriage attire and from the Maiden's head to toe including the decorated stave have their meanings. During the traditional marriage, the coming of age is done, a process where the Maiden's Mother gives her house/kitchen utensils such as Pots, plates, deep freezer, sewing machine, broom, food flask etc to set up her matrimonial home. After the traditional marriage, immediately, the bride's family members will cook the Efik dish and take the bride together with her properties to her Husband's place. On arrival, the Husband and his family will receive them and both families will then eat the food and drink together, give advices to the newly married couple. This is also an opportunity for both families to embrace (as a sign of love or friendship) and unite strongly, get to know more about their new inlaws.(if there is any). It's always fun! Lol!

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