The Abak local Government people have got a very enchanting tradition which adds spice and color to every traditional events or occasion which are done annually or occasionally.
Ceremonies in ABAK L.G.A are always flamboyant, captivating, rich and glamorous. A Traditional marriage ceremony in Abak L.G.A is not an exception and not new to the beautiful heritage displayed during its proceedings.
The traditional marriage in Abak L.G.A starts with a young man from any tribe asking a girl from Abak Local Government Area to marry him. As soon as the girl agrees the journey legally begins. The traditional marriage process in Abak is in four phases namely:
• The pre- introduction phase natively called the Nkonk udok
• The introduction phase is natively known as Edidiong Ufok
• The marriage ceremony is known as Usoro Ndo
• The post-marriage phase known as Usio uyong
The traditional requirements in each phase and its characteristics
The Pre-Introduction Phase (NKONG UDOK)
This phase has to do with a man meeting the girl’s family for the first time. This visit can be done by just the groom- to- be with at least two elderly persons to declare their intentions to the girl’s family.
The highlight of this phase is the girl(bride-to-be) openly accepting to marry the man(groom-to-be). If the answer is in affirmative, the wine brought by the groom is accepted by the bride’s family and questions on his personal life would be asked by the bride-to –be –family.
This phase comes to an end with the man (groom-to-be) being instructed to come in another day for the introduction list on a scheduled date.
The requirement for this phase by bride’s family is one bottle of any choice wine.
The Marriage Introduction Phase
This phase deals with the groom-to-be coming with his immediate and some extended family members to know the bride-to-be family. This phase indicates that there’s a progress in the process. The highlight of this phase is the socialization and interaction by both families to known themselves better.
The requirements for this phase of the marriage process are:
• One goat
• 2 bottles dry gin
• 2 crates of beer
• 3 crates of minerals
• 2 crates of malt
• #10,000 for the mother and #20,000 for the Father.
This phase ends with another instruction to the groom-to-be by the bride’s family. The man is asked to come another day for the proper marriage list.
In between the pre-introduction and marriage ceremony proper, there’s a little period which is traditionally called UNO MKPO, This is when the man comes to give the marriage things on the list. this can be done by the man alone. The marriage list is always a long one.
Requirements for a Traditional Marriage Ceremony in Abak L.G.A
List of Traditional Marriage Items for the Father of the bride (Mkpo Ete)
• One goat
• One bottle of 3-in-1 whiskey
• One carton of schnapps
• Wrappers like Hollandis, George material etc
• Cartons of assorted beers
• Limestone, kola, and snuffs
• One shirt, socks and singlet
• One hat, umbrella, walking stick
• Agreed amount of money(cash)
List of Traditional Marriage Items for the Mother of the bride (Mkpo Eka)
• One native goat
• One bottle of brandy
• One lace material
• Cartons of beers
• One shoe, bra, head tie and under-wears
• 4 crates of soft drinks
• Wrappers like Hollandis, George etc
• One lace blouse, headgear, and accessories
• Cash for the money ranging from #30,000
List of Traditional Marriage Items for the Extended family of the bride (Mkpo Ndito Ette)
• One carton of beer
• 2 crates of soft-drinks
• A bottle of schnapps
List for the Entertainment on the Marriage Day
• Money for drinks
• Money for food and snacks
This money is often given to the bride’s mother.
The Marriage Ceremony Proper (Usoro Ndo)
This is the big day and the most exciting for the couple. This is the day they will be legally declared Husband and wife and this day is usually characterized with diverse activities. This process starts with the arrival of the groom and he is being taxed by different groups before being allowed into the bride’s compound.
On a table would be displayed of Abak L.G.A Delicacies like the famous Afang soup, otong, Abak soup, Ekpang nkukwo,foo-foo,edisi- isim,ekpan, efere oyop, eyip oyop and lots more to the delights of guests and visitors and each delicacy would be explained by one of the cooks to the public, this consists of the native name of the delicacy, ingredients used and how they are prepared. Then the food would be served to the groom’s family first before the public.
The different cultural display would take the center stage ranging from cultural dances, songs by the natives and current dance steps will be exhibited by the masquerades.
The hour everyone has been waiting for would be next, which would be bringing in the bride to meet her husband by the women folks. This will be a little bit dramatic as different women would be brought in for the groom to chose, which are usually old women.
If the groom-to-be rejects all the women brought, he would be asked to pay some certain amount of money before he can see his bride.
The highlight of his phase is always the groom paying the agreed amount to see his wife, which when paid the bride would be brought in and they will be nuptial dance signaling almost the end of the ceremony.
The wife is prayed for and then, handed over to the groom family.
Post Marriage Phase – Send Forth of the Bride
This is the last phase of the marital journey; the bride-to-be is gifted with enough household things especially the traditional items like the wooden chair, spoons, stirring sticks, stone for grinding, traditional pestle and mortar, big pots etc.
The bride is then send-forth to her husband house with a younger one in tow or just herself.
This could be the end of the consummation but for those that still need the church blessings or want to follow the Christian tenets, a church wedding could still be in the offing.
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