TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE IN ESAN-LAND AND ITS EMERGING CONTROVERSIES (3) – Prof. Matthew Izibili.

It should be placed on record here, that any society where retaliation is unconsciously taken as an approved virtue, stands the risk of a full and speedy break down of the once respected moral order and sanctity of the people concerned.

This record straightening is apt here for so many reasons: we will not marry our daughters or son’s all by ourselves; so, as our daughters are married out to other families, our sons will bring other family’s daughters home in marriage some day some time. Abi, no be so?

Esan Bride to be given out in marriage

Meanwhile, I want to bring to your remembrance that when it is said in Esan, that “Omon iyo osotunkpa”, (a child does not belong to one person or the immediate family alone), it means much more than mere words of the mouth. During marriage ceremony, you will understand it better as the “kpenekpene” or rites of marriage are being observed before the much expected concluding prayers are offered… “Igbe (sons) “bi Isinlin” (daughters) in the lady’s womb, are meant for the husband, and you will hear a thunderous AMEN! Like it is the tradition in logical deduction, premises precedes conclusion; there are items to be presented to the lady’s family by the young man’s family.

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

The items vary from one community or family to another. The said variation may be in the quantity and not necessarily the items, even when there may be an upward review due to the experiences from neighbouring towns/ villages where our sons have taken us to to get a wife.

Esan Couple on traditional attire

The following are the necessary/ required items:
1. Ugba Ebhiele (a plate of kola nuts)
2. 25 litres of palm wine
3. 21 tubers of yam; note: this quantity vary from Kingdom to Kingdom and from one family to another. Hence, in some, the quantity may be as much as 40tubers and above
4. 25 litres of palm oil.
5. 2 bags of granulated/ iodized salt
6. A basin full of “Alubasa”, Onions.
7. Cash gift for the (not fixed amount) following
a). The eldest man in the family of the bride
b). The oldest wife in the family/ Ikhuo- Azagba
c). Osunmhan ie the middle man
d). The Igene age group; they are responsible to escort the bride to her husband’s house on a set date. Note: As it was yesteryears, the bride will be shown to all the aunties/ relations that must have been married in the community where she has just come to join as a new wife. This is aimed at strengthening the bond that exists in Esan communal life system.
8. Specified numbers of crates/ cartons of assorted beer or malt drinks.
9. Bottles of wine and hot drinks
10. Bride price (strictly negotiable).
NB. Observed new items to the list which is fast becoming controversial except one:
*11. A bag (s) of rice
*12. A leg and a hand of a butchered cow
*13. Specified packets of cigarettes/ tobacco product.
*14. Thirty five thousand naira (N35,000. 00k) cash for an unspecified purpose.
15. A box of clothes to be inspected by a representative of the bride’s family, etc.

It has been observed that there are few variations as to the items listed above especially when the suitor is from another kingdom/ tribe different from that of the bride or outside of Esan entirely. The compiler of the list of items put this and other related matters into consideration as approved by the elders. It is expected of an in-law to pay homage to the father in-law yearly especially during the community’s festival like Ukpe, Ihulan, etc. This is Succintly called Irogah in Esan vocabs. This practice strengthens the peaceful relationship that exists among the families concerned and gives credence to the parties as responsible individuals in the society. If the above is not done as expected, the people involved are only cohabiting and not married.

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

While finalizing the rites of marriage as approved by the elders in Esan, a member of the bride’s family is mandated to give a charge to the newly married on the “dos” and “don’ts” as they begin a new journey. Has modernity over shadowed this said charges/admonitions? For details on this and others, the discussion continues…

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