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Work on the farm for 10 years, get a wife without bride price in Igala land


Matthew Bala, who is from Ajobe in the Kogi State local government of Ankpa, has been married to an Ogugu woman from Olamaboro for more than 20 years. He believes the Ogugu marriage rites are the least expensive and most fascinating in all of Igala territory.

He claimed that the Ogugus would permit a groom to marry his wife without having to pay a bride fee.

He claimed that the Ogugu people still adhere fervently to their culture and that customs like a suitor meeting his chosen bride’s family members must be followed.



According to Bala, “The relatives take advantage of the opportunity of the visits to study the character of their would-be in-law.”

The agarama rite, which is the customary linking of the couple to the Ogugu deity known as Ibegu, is another distinctive feature of the Ogugu wedding customs.

Bala explained that “a chicken is sacrificed and certain rites are performed,” adding that it serves as a kind of check on their daughter while she is living with her husband.

“She would face severe repercussions from her ancestors if she dares to commit adultery. She must quickly return to her husband if any male touches her.

Without her husband’s approval, “she cannot do anything, including providing any kind of assistance to her relatives,” Bala claimed.

Some aspects of the Igala people’s marriage custom have been phased out as a result of the blending of religion and culture, such as the requirement that a suitor spend up to 10 years working on his future father-in-law before being allowed to begin marriage rites. However, the people still adhere to other long-standing customs.

When a young man first meets a woman and decides he wants to take her as his wife, he tells his parents, who then go to the woman’s home to ask permission to speak to her.

Following the families’ agreement, the suitor moves in with his in-law’s family and starts farming for them. For eight to ten years, this lasts. This is done to see if the husband can support and feed his wife should they get married.

When this stage is successfully finished, the woman enters the man’s house without a formal ceremony or the need to pay the bride price up front; such things can be done later.

There are three main, separate regional blocs in Igalaland, and they all have diverse views on marriage. They belong to the Ankpa, Dekina, and Idah axis, however the marriage laws in each bloc are the identical.

After receiving her parents’ consent to court her, a man goes to ask for her hand in marriage and makes frequent visits while bringing presents.

After the wooing phase, a two- or three-man delegation from the suitor’s family visits to formally ask the lady’s hand in marriage. Obi ealo-tona is the term for this.

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Following that, a larger group makes a visit with a bag of kola nuts to formally establish the romance between the potential couple.

Two bowls of the kolanut are split, with a certain amount of money deposited in each bowl. Although the exact sum is not stated, it is often N2,000 for the father and N1,500 for the mother.

The girl’s parents would summon her out to retrieve the two bowls during the kolanut ritual.

Utogba-oya, the head of the suitor delegation, would offer the food to the girl’s parents, who would then ask her if they could eat it. If she replied in the affirmative, they would take the bowls away from her and warn her that she would not be allowed to bring any more suitors.

The eje-ejo, which involves showering the prospective bride with money as a sign of thanks, is a component of this ritual.

The next step is to set a new date for the oko-ugba and decide how much the suitor will contribute toward the cost of the materials and household goods. While there is no set price for this either, families frequently negotiate one. After that, the bride’s family makes arrangements for a set of boxes containing clothing, jewelry, and other personal gifts to be delivered by the groom’s family.

The bride’s price, Oko-Ome Oya, is then set. According to Islamic law, 20,000 Naira is the minimum amount for Muslims. The same holds true for Christians. In particular among Muslims, the bride price is paid in advance of or on the wedding day.

It is customary for the groom to give his future mother-in-law money to be utilized for guest entertainment on the wedding day. Although there is no set sum, it has been benchmarked for many families in the modern era at N200,000.

On the actual wedding day, the groom, who arrives with his friends, removes the veil from the bride’s face. This is immediately followed by another eje-ejo.

Oje unyin-oko is the last rite that is still performed in many households today. The bride is supposed to prepare her first dinner, which is served to her husband’s clan members. The bride agrees to cover the cost of this ritual.

Also Read: Interesting Facts About The Igala Culture, Belief System And Marriage

How is Igala traditional marriage done

A mat is placed and a fresh wrapper is thrown over it in accordance with the marriage procedures. The bride will then arrive with her pals in tow. They will approach the family while dancing to the music being played. They will return, and she will change into a different outfit and say the same greeting before returning.

What is the marriage culture of Igala people?

These include the actual wedding ceremony and the laws against incest and descent. The cases of residence and domination are two other crucial tenets in Igala marriage. If a marriage simply results in children, it might be deemed to be fruitful in Igala culture. Therefore, an unhappy marriage might quickly end or lead to polygyny.

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Culture and tradition of Igala

Politically, traditional Igala society was structured as a kingdom. Kings conducted lavish courts attended by a large number of officials and attendants, many of whom were slaves and eunuchs; they were divine and surrounded by several taboos. Every heavenly kingdom in Africa had traditions that served as limits on the king’s authority.

What is the process of traditional marriage?

The process of traditional marriage can vary significantly depending on cultural, religious, and regional customs. However, I’ll provide a generalized overview of some common elements found in traditional marriage ceremonies:

  1. Courtship: The process often begins with courtship, where the individuals interested in marriage get to know each other better. This phase allows them to understand each other’s values, personalities, and compatibility.
  2. Proposal: Traditionally, the man may formally propose to the woman, expressing his intention to marry her. However, in modern times, this role may be shared or reversed, depending on the cultural context.
  3. Parental Consent: In many traditional settings, obtaining the blessing or approval of both sets of parents or guardians is considered crucial. This shows respect for the elders’ wisdom and signifies the families’ support for the union.
  4. Engagement: After the proposal and parental consent, an engagement period often follows. This is a time when the couple is committed to getting married, but the actual wedding ceremony has not taken place yet.
  5. Wedding Preparation: The couple, along with their families, starts preparing for the wedding ceremony. This includes deciding on the date, venue, guest list, and all the arrangements for the event.
  6. Pre-wedding rituals: In some cultures, there are pre-wedding rituals and ceremonies. These may include engagement ceremonies, bridal showers, bachelor parties, or other rituals that symbolize purification or preparation for the marriage.
  7. Wedding Ceremony: The actual wedding ceremony takes place at the agreed-upon date and venue. This is the central and most significant part of the marriage process. The ceremony may be conducted by religious leaders, community elders, or officiants, depending on the cultural and religious context.
  8. Exchange of Vows and Rings: During the wedding ceremony, the couple typically exchanges vows, expressing their love and commitment to each other. In some traditions, rings are exchanged as a symbol of their eternal bond.
  9. Cultural Traditions: The wedding ceremony often incorporates various cultural and traditional practices, such as specific rituals, attire, music, and dances.
  10. Feast and Celebration: After the wedding ceremony, there is usually a celebratory feast or reception where guests join in to congratulate the couple and partake in the festivities.
  11. Post-wedding rituals: In some cultures, there may be post-wedding rituals or customs that take place after the wedding day. These could include the couple’s departure to the groom’s home or other symbolic ceremonies.

It’s essential to remember that marriage traditions are diverse and can differ greatly across various cultures and regions. The process of traditional marriage can be deeply meaningful and holds significant importance for the families and communities involved.

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