TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE IN ESAN-LAND AND ITS EMERGING CONTROVERSIES (2) – Prof. Matthew Izibili.

“Traditional marriage in most African societies is not just a union between the spouse alone, but one between the two families and their communities. No wonder you hear statement like “Okhuo- idumun” (wife of the community), in Esan-land. It is highly recognized by law and is going to be with us for ever…” This is evident in Esan-land.

At the end of the introductory part of this discussion, I deliberately raised some questions especially as relating to whether parents are still Keen on getting to know the family of either the young man or woman that wished to be married? We use to hear, “Who is your father” and the like. Your guess is as good as mine in the wake of situation ethics of either negligence or deliberate compromise/ lowering of approved standards put in place for the preservation of our rich culture all because of ephemeral things whose source(s) is/ are not durable or not praise worthy.

No wonder, it has become an unfortunate practice that parents can now be hired for a fee, to stand in proxy for intending couple even when their biological parents are alive and well.

What about the case of a lady being married out even when the supposed husband is not readily available at the venue of the marriage ceremony? Don’t we now have a representative husband or wife on behalf of the young man or lady who ought to be the celebrants? Are there no implication(s) in this arrangement? These are part of what I regarded as emerging controversies. Can one say that this is not new if viewed against the backdrop of marriage by photograph once upon a time? Just thinking oooo.

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

Granted that yesteryears, even when it appears that parents seem to take the center stage in marriage arrangements, there were cases when they met with resistance from the children especially the daughters. In the case where the girl’s father has accepted the bride price and other necessary items (sometimes, unknown to the lady) and the girl is not interested in the relationship, the father will liase with his family members with the intention of covering his tracks on the deal that is being threatened, as it were… In such circumstance, it becomes obvious that when persuasion fails, the use of force, becomes inevitable. This practice however, thrived when the awareness of human rights as they are now being advocated in contemporary times, has not taken the center stage vis-a-vis the rights of a girl child.

I know of some communities in Esan that employed the use of masquerade to escort an unwilling young lady to a man’s house, in marriage. In other cases, there were young men who were experts in the forceful delivery of any unwilling lady whose parents are very willing and have to tip the young and able men to finish the job. All of these may sound uncivilized and unacceptable today perhaps, because we are in the days of “I can choose for myself” or “I will do whatever I like”…independence.

Meanwhile, the parents took this option all because they considered it shameful to eat from the expected in-laws and later be told to vomit what they have eaten. “Okpia non len-egbe, Oile kpaaa”! The famous Gamigodo of Ugboha on my mind here. May God rest his soul, Amen.

How can I forget what the tactics used to be once the young lady is to be taken to an awaiting husband’s place, especially the one based in Uwamen (City) from the village? Gamigodo’s car is usually available for use on a market day, for the unsuspecting damsel. Hmmmm, this “business” earned him the name, “Oraomon jio-odor” (one who takes her to the husband). All of these approaches may have changed but… Besides, I am yet to know the secret behind the almost sudden change of mind on the part of the lady who bluntly refused to be officially sent forth to the husband’s house either after she has agreed to take her bath or eat the food presented to her by the husband’s family. There may be the unseen in the seen, all for the good of the new home. In this case, Esan would say “Any frog that swallowed water from the pond can hardly shout well”! Are we together? A lot have changed, yes, a lot… Try that again now and see.

What do we say about the emerging controversy about father and mother in-laws in this age when compared to yesteryears in Esan-land? Things are different now… Some young couple will even place a curse on themselves, (ignorantly though), the moment any of them says: any man whose mum is still alive, count me out, I will not marry such. The young man may say similar thing. It simply means that they have prayed a simple prayer that they will not be alive again when their children will take a wife or a husband.

My dear people of Esan, remember that Culture is not static; hence I wish to pause here and get ready to examine marriage in Esan in the face of modernity where retaliation is becoming an ethical virtue instead of a vice
To be continued…

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