TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE IN ESAN-LAND AND ITS EMERGING CONTROVERSIES (4) – Prof. MATTHEW IZIBILI.

Culture no doubt, is conceived as ‘The totality of the way of life evolved by a people in their attempts to meet the existential challenges in their environment which gives meaning to both their social, political, economic, aesthetic and religious norms as well as the modes of organization; thus, distinguishing them from their neighbours’. Put differently, culture has to do with, the way a group of people interpret their environment, express their feelings and order their live to enhance their survival as well as the overall flourishing as humanly possible, in the society.

Hence, it is contextually correct to posit here that culture denotes the way of life of a specific society, whether material, intellectual, spiritual or moral. In the light of the above, I want to appreciate all those who have been following the discussion with very objective and open mind through the feedback and comments… Thank you so very much for both now and the future.

In our very last encounter, I remembered I raised an issue which concerns what I referred to as the “Vice of Retaliation” in the given of, or taking of persons in marriage. It is an emerging security challenge even among ourselves as Esan people all in the name of “Eikalumenele” dangerous philosophy. Meanwhile, as it is traditionally approved by the elders, the Dos and Don’ts are spelt out to the couple as they begin the journey officially thus:

1. The wife must not insult her husband, his parents and other relatives.

2. She must not starve her husband or her husband’s relations who come around them on a visit. Instead of the relatives to go hungry, she can give the husband’s meal to them and prepare another for him after the in-laws have eaten. Discretion is key here.

3. She must not out of anger spit on her husband or her husband on her. Note that this does not abhor “Amunufiofio”! You want to know about this, ask the married Esan couple around you please.

4. It is forbidden to use broom to wipe ones wife, husband or children.

5. On no account should a wife curse the husband with her private part.

6. They are to avoid any of the known and approved taboos in Esan, especially those relating to Marriage institution: infidelity, disloyalty, disrespect, idleness, lying, etc etc.

7. In the event that there’s misunderstanding, the husband is forbidden to kick his wife with the leg. Note that this does not include while on the bed. A simple kick from either side is acceptable as the “Ringing tone” for a call to be positively answered. Are we together?

8. The lady must note that the family no longer have a room for her in the family house; so, she is not expected to come back and say “I no de do again”.

9. All other admonitions meant for both backed up with prayerful wishes.

Esan Couple

Marriage in Esan-land in the face of modernity have undergone a lot of changes either due to adaptation to social innovations and contacts with foreign cultural forces like Christianity and Islam as prominent religions.

Modernity in this part of our discussion is contextually used to explain the evident adjustment and adaptation to new and evolving trends of doing things which has presented itself as fashionable. However, yesteryears in Esan, it is the father’s responsibility to marry for his son. To demonstrate this practice, the counting of the bride was then done on the laps of the groom’s father or father-figure who will thereafter, hand her over to the son (the groom). Things are different now!

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

It is worrisome to see that some men are being asked to settle the bride price/dowry of a deceased spouse before burial. This is very sad… This is of course, is a by-product of missed placed priority, if you ask me. Most marriages in Esan in recent times are mere on co-habiting, squatting or on hire purchase basis. In this arrangement, you find out that in most homes, wives are not found; rather, the men could only call their partners “My woman” instead of my wife all because he has not fulfilled the traditional requirements. Therefore, such persons are not legitimately married oooo.

Some looming questions: Are there implications if one refuses to follow the due process of taking a wife in Esan? Is it necessary for a husband to be acquainted with the lady’s family members? Or it is enough to pick up the list from a family, buy the items and ask a driver to take them home and you are done. If yes, the question of where should a daughter be given out in marriage and the ‘double marriage’ practice all in the name of “White man’s culture imitation” made possible through religiousity, calls for a critical examination in the light of the series of unfortunate emerging controversies.

As it appears, more attention is given to the white man’s Culture even in and by an Esan parent over and above their “rich tradition as it relates to matrimony. Is this development healthy for us?

To be continued…

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