Thursday, 27 June 2013

Demystifying The Igbo Bride Wealth, A Case Study Of Abiriba

For as long as I can remember, other tribes of the country have for ever poked fun at the Igbos for the exorbitant price they fix on the heads of their marriageable girls.


For those involved in inter-tribal romance, the final hurdle most times is if the intending groom can afford the financial implications of marrying an Igbo girl and in most cases, these group of men tend to bow out due to this perceived hurdle. Based on this, I’m going to use Abiriba as a case study.


Abiriba, also known as “Small London” is one of the few matrilineal towns in Nigeria, its located within Ohafia LGA of Abia State. Kinship is traced through the woman’s lineage and this also dictates the line of inheritance. An endogamous culture that encourages indigenes to marry within themselves which to some extent is aimed at ensuring pure lineages and also preserve their unique culture.


Overtime, due to exposure, education and migration, all these have changed and you can find the Abiriba people marrying not just outsiders but as far as non Nigerians and non Africans, add any shade of continent you can think of.


In Abiriba, the standard bride-wealth is N7 for Abiriba suitors and outsiders alike, the highest you can pay is N10 for graduates and this is accompanied by the following which is presented to her family and is  not included in the usual traditional wedding expenses :




Abiriba Suitor

Non Abiriba Suitor

4 Cartons of Beer

6-8 Cartons of Beer

4 Crates of softdrinks

6-8 Crates of softdrinks

4 bottles of hotdrinks

6-8 bottles of hotdrinks

A big bowl of garden eggs/bittercola with pepper or groundnut sauce

A big bowl of garden eggs/bittercola with pepper or groundnut sauce

A big bowl of sautéed/dry meat

A big bowl of sautéed/dry meat

N7 bridewealth

N7 bridewealth



Note: The 6-8 is negotiable depending on the bride’s  family



Apart from the above, there are other fees to be paid and if summed up with the above expenses amounts differently for the suitors.

Abiriba Suitor= N 15,000

Non Abiriba Suitor = less than N200, 000


Note that if a suitor for whichever category is billed more than the above, it’s a preview to the kind of family you’re getting involved with.


An Abiriba Bride Identifying her suitor with traditional native chalk ( Nzu)  which is the preferred choice unlike other parts of Igbo that  use Palmwine


Marriage used to be a yearlong affair where the above is done at the traditional wedding in December and the suitor is expected to make some other expenses at different cultural dates, check the table below:




Easter/April

Suitor shows how he intends taking care of the bride by showering her with clothes, trunk-full of wrapper, toiletries, foot wears, bags, money etc, as his pocket permits



Iriama/July

Suitor shows appreciation to his parents in-law, through drinks, wrapper, rice as his pocket permits



Ekembu/September

Earlier appreciation is repeated by suitor. Bride, accompanied by female friends and relatives goes to the village stream to fetch water for her parents’ in-law and suitor’s relatives as well.



October/November

Bride’s namesake who is usually her grandmother if she’s the first daughter  kills a goat in her honour signifying her purity/innocence/virginity. Also called sendforth



December

White wedding takes place

· Note that the suitor is responsible for all expenses incurred during traditional and white weddings except where the bride’s family may wish to help bear some costs to ensure everything is done to their taste.



Like all evolving societies, most people have learnt to cut short this yearlong steps by opting to do everything within a particular period, eg: a suitor if financially capable can decide to do the traditional wedding, white wedding and all the others on different dates but in December, this is popularly known as “3 in 1” and like all product promotions, a suitor will definitely cut some costs this way.
An Abiriba bride greeting her inlaws with Nzu as well, she applies the nzu on either the face or wrists.


It is the duty of the bride’s family to send the bride to her new home with everything a woman needs to make a home, ranging from utensils, electronics, furniture and even a car depending how buoyant her family is.

To assuage your curiosity why the non Abiriba suitor is billed more, it is believed that everyone has three lines of kinship, your mother’s line, your father’s line and finally your in-laws, so if for whatever reason an individual finds himself in dire straits, the in-laws have a duty to help bail such a person out, it goes both ways. Once a woman marries out, this means her family has lost out on the third line of kinship and therefore, the none outsider is billed for that. Also note that a a bride is not handed over until after the white wedding, that means both traditional and religious rites have to be fulfilled first.


So anyone who is entertaining thoughts of marrying a girl from Abiriba should weigh his pocket and make a quick decision.


If you have details of what it entails to marry a woman from your own town, do share with us and if you're from Abiriba, you're free to make your contributions.





30 comments:

  1. Its NGN7:50k and NGN10:00k for non grad and graduates. All payable in coins.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's real nice ,great write up Esty
    So proud of my hometown Abiriba!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Interesting.....waohhhhhh.kenechi

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  4. So I buy the wife in cash and bater still?
    Sypho1

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  5. what really caught my eye was the gift items that the groom will be buying for the bride and families throughout that stipulated period before the wedding....can an Abiriba groom do this for his non-Abiriba bride to be? # just asking o#

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When it comes to gifts for the bride and bride's parents, same applies to all suitors

      Delete
    2. Ndukwo D.kalu18 July, 2013 04:46

      yes,u just do it at once during d traditional marriage.dat is (Ime sari nwami ife.

      Delete
    3. When it comes to Non-Abiriba brides, the Abiriba groom 's purchases can only be guided by the the Non-Abiriba Bride's tradition. She's not from Abiriba remember?

      Delete
  6. I attended one wedding in Isuochi, Abia...and the guy was angry because he paid so much...make una reduce price abeg...Skuri

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    Replies
    1. Depends on the culture, i recently heard that there are parst of Igboland that would collect the cash equivalent of all expenses.

      Delete
  7. this is 9ce!!! Proudly Abiribarian

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  8. Hahahahahahahaha, abiriba is not a good place to go

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  9. Thanks My sister for a light into our marital demands, I also want to comment on Abiriba ladies and their male friends who would wish to get married.

    I personally see marriage today as an honor,respect of high esteem when a man decides to be joined with his love as to be called husband and wife, be he from Abiriba or not.

    There is a dramatic notion that Abiriba girls must marry from Abiriba, its good but The highest respect is to be given to the man who paid the lady's bride-wealth, there are so many young Abiriba single boys who till now are satisfying them self's sexually with no intention of getting married should our sisters wait till death?

    Concerning the bride wealth, I have never witnessed where a non Abiriba paid more than 15000 Naira, unless its social statues oriented, Graduate and non Graduate alike is 7 Naira for indigenous Groom.

    Once again its a nice one my dear sister, if some one was writing down Abiriba culture and origine in Steps as this, many mistakes wouldn't have been made

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Beautiful Piece. I'll note the points you raised.Thanks

      Delete
  10. I'm Maasai-Kikuyu and when my Yoruba boyfriend legalizes this 'thing' we're doing, the following shall be required of him:
    1. 90kg bag of sugar for my Kikuyu mommy. To symbolize the sweetness(good things) he intends for her daughter.

    2. 5cows and 5bulls for my Maasai father. This is standard for a Maasai bride.

    3. A lump sum to be agreed on by males from his and my side of the family.

    4. Finally, he shall be required to identify me from a bevy of girls draped in lessos(equivalent of wrappers..only lighter) from head to toe. If he fails to identify me, he shall be fined.
    ..when all is said and done, im his to bang till death do us part:D

    ReplyDelete
  11. I Just want to comment on the word tribe since it appeared as "other tribes of the country have for ever poked fun at the Igbos..." It is imperative that we educate ourselves and hopefully stop using some of these words other use to wrongly when talking about us. In many of the cultural anthropology books, tribe is described as thousands of people who do not have a permanent place to live. When this was described in the book I used in my cultural anthropology class, I let the professor know that there has never been anytime when the Igbos moved to another location. Where in the world will the Igbos, who was then, over thirty million move to every so often? Yet, people call us the Igbo tribe. I am addressing this in my second book however. Until we find a better word, the different people with different languages and cultures should be called different linguistic groups. It is either that or the definition of tribe be changed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the correction I'll cross check that definition. Again

      Delete
    2. Ideally, the tribes ARE nations. The white man came in, saw us as "inferior" (I say different). They had a grand purpose/plan, we did not, just thought it to be business. They had structures, writing etc , we did not. So any appellation the colonial officers put on us, has "STUCK" . Calling us "tribes" , "savages", speaking "vernacular". which are all misnomers. We have been educated, exposed, we should know better. The Chinese were colonized, called backward, yellow, but THEY have a sense of self respect and identity and stopped it among themselves and today are duly respected by the whole world, by even the WEST (who practically divided the country among themselves) as equals.

      What we call ourselves or say of ourselves (not what some colonial officer said) is what the world will refer to us as

      The biggest mistake is the language we unknowingly degrade ourselves with. My Governor (Anambra) speaks to a crowd and the News says he is speaking VERNACULAR? Would we say that Angela Merkel is not speaking German or Hollande is not speaking French but VERNACULAR? That was almost insulting and from a fellow Nigerian in the 21st Century. If the man was speaking Igbo, for God's sake say he is speaking Igbo. We cannot be more British than the British

      Delete
  12. i find this not interesting because this will certainly expose a lot of abriba girls to foreigners. they need to be around to sort out their men. foreigners love igbo women and if they find out its cheap in abiriba they will come in torrents. moreso, for believers, noting that the alcoholic palmwine is not used to identify the groom, they will also come in numbers. knowing this blog is read by thousands of guys, am just sorry for the abiriba girls because they will all be gone before we know it including estelle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have I not told you I'm joining the convent

      Delete
    2. Our tradition is what gives us an identity. I never knew that Abriba use Nku instead of Palm wine. You learn everyday.

      Be proud of your culture and record it, just like CRUNCHY did in this wonderful article. So the process will not be lost.

      Well done girl

      Delete
  13. LOL @ the comment pertaining to "other tribes"....Point taken.Aluba nice write up. However I must admit that I've never really agreed with some of our traditions and as years have gone by my way of thinking has severely changed. While the other person had an issue with "Other tribes" I have an issue with "marriageable girls".
    Nnene K M

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    Replies
    1. Lol why do u have an issue with "maarriageble? And what you have me replace it with?

      Delete
    2. No LOL here. It is very serious

      The man is absolutely right. When WE call ourselves "TRIBES" a 7 year old in a backwater in America will pick up a dictionary and check what it means, and we are defined the same. By the whole world. So if we call ourselves something different, we save ourselves from nasty remarks when we are not there.

      We were nations, for convenience and because there were so many languages all over the place (and possibly a lack of governance structure you find in other societies) some colonial officer called us tribe.

      The Igbo are no tribe. If we were a country we would be bigger than Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway and Finland combined.

      We are 30 million in population as at 2012

      Believe in yourself

      Delete
  14. I like this write up it's absolutely wonderful,I have always wanted to know somethings about my home town Abiriba.Esty,kudos to yah!!!,you did well,spledid...'

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  15. this write up supports the notion that marrying an Abiriba lady is very Expensive! buying all those items and even repeating it after some time is absurd, even though the clause 'as his pocket permits' is attached.
    My question is will they allow a man whose pocket 'did not permit' anything to still go ahead and marry their daughter?
    Vivian

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As far as Igbo man is good at business, I suggest you go in and "Negotiate" afterall , we are good at that.

      Don't fear, I am sure the parents will compromise

      Delete
  16. I must admit that the Abiriba pattern for marriage is well-intended, from buying things for the bride-to-be, to the "Igbu Ewu" to signify the purity of the bride (ie if she is still pure). Most of what a man would spend in Abiriba is meant for the bride and her parents. In some places, you will spend so much buying things for extended family members and even strangers who would probably insist on getting whatever is written in their list. Good exposition I must say, kudos!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Why is an emphasis on December months and Church marriage too, especially when we are talking about traditions and bride wealth in Abiriba?

    ReplyDelete

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