TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE IN ESAN-LAND AND ITS EMERGING CONTROVERSIES (1) – Prof. Matthew Izibili.

Marriage is a respected institution among Esan people of the Central Senatorial District of Edo State. Traditionally, beside the companionship purpose for marriage, there exist the procreation/reproduction dimensions to it. It is part of the firm beliefs of an average Esan person that it ought not to be entered into unadvised. Hence, in traditional Esan society, parents of the would-be couple have an important role(s) to play in the coming together of their children or wards in matrimony.

Meanwhile, there once existed the betrothal system of marriage contract. By this, the young man or woman has little or nothing to say in who should be married and to whom. Parents make proposals on behalf of their children and ensure that serious care is taken of them morally in matters of skill acquisition, and other related areas. The would-be in-laws makes efforts to demonstrate their love, loyalty and commitment to the family. This takes various forms: Fetching of firewood for the mother of the girl, provides sizeable and presentable tubbers of yam especially in festival periods, organizing young men to help in the in-law in potency’s farm, providing for the up keep of the growing girl as their economic power could take them, etc.

Photo Credit: esanland.org

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Flowing from the above, it is correct for one to say that both parents deliberately decided to provide guidance for the couple in preparation to avoid being promiscuous. Sexual immorality was scarcely heard of. Female circumcision was put in place among other reason(s) in Esan to checkmate sexual promiscuous fellows. This could be responsible for the pump and pageantry that heralds a damsel who on circumcision is found out to be a virgin perhaps, because the person who carried out the operation certified her to be so. This practice is no longer fashionable in the days of information on the health and related consequences associated with female genital mutilation.

There’s usually a period of investigations from both sides for the purpose of not embarking on a journey full of regrets on the long run. The issues to be investigated include but not limited to: the young man’s family background, how responsible are they? Has any member of that family been mad before? Do they steal or take what does not belong to them either forcefully or deceitfully? Is there food enough to eat in the family? Are there records of untimely death in either family? Strictly for the lady, does her family members make good homes as wives? Etc. etc.

My dear Esan people, can we or do we still ask such questions in the meantime? If not, why not?

Prof. Matthew Izibili

The discussion continues…

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