Every society possess a unique way of making mister Y and miss Z husband and wife. The people of Emekutu have their own unique traditional marriage they call ayere. Ayere as they call it is an event that shows the cultural richness of the people together with the flamboyant display of love, care and togetherness.
Though the people look forward to it, certain rites must be performed. The people of emekutu are bounded by their culture and this must be observed before the man and woman will be pronounced oko po oya (husband and wife) respectively. This rites will be explained in stages:
•Agreement between the man and woman
In emekutu, the first step to marriage is a mutual agreement between a man and a lady. This is done during courtship. For some people, due to reasons ranging from their absence in the village or extreme reliance on their parents or norms of the family, their parents look out for a lady according to their specification for them.
The period of courtship is meant for knowing each other. If they find each other compatible, then they have a mutual agreement to tie the knot and inform their parents about it.
•Involvement of parents and subsequent introduction
In this stage, both families run a background check on the family of their in-law to be. This is done because they believe any trait found in his/her family will most likely be part of him/her. This believe had to a greater extent been proven correct as a girl from a family of trouble makers often ends up becoming a trouble maker herself.
There was a case of a lady whom her mum was a prostitute before her death, the man that was to get married to her stood on his ground that his own woman was different and wouldn’t do such a thing but after the marriage, the trait began to manifest. They also run this background checks to know if the family of their in-law to be had a curse or a particular illness in their lineage.
Another reason why they run this check is to prevent the occurrence of incest taboo. In Emekutu, persons related by blood are not allowed to get married and any trace either from the paternal or maternal side means a break-up between the two lovers.
If the result of this background check is not satisfactory, they advice their child to cut-off the tie and look somewhere else for a marriage partner. But if the result was satisfactory, the family of the man select some well respected members of the family to go and ask for the lady’s hand in marriage. The lady’s family will be informed about their coming through their daughter.
The introduction is done in three phases namely; the introduction for her paternal family, that of her maternal family and the lady’s introduction. The introduction for the paternal and maternal family is the same, the only difference is just the name.
The man’s family goes to the lady’s family with kolanut, money and maltina or any other drink. If the lady’s family do take palm wine, a keg of palm wine is added to it. The man’s family tell the lady’s family the reason they had come and the lady’s family will welcome them and asked their daughter if she was ready to accept their proposal. They would make it known to her that they don’t collect kolanut twice on their daughter and don’t vomit an already chewed kolanut. The woman will then tell them she had accepted the proposal and all the gift brought will be accepted by her family. Some families do return the money.
The introduction to the woman is just like an introduction to her and her friends. The man buys her cloths, shoes and jewels and also give her and her friends money. It during the introduction that the marriage date will be chosen and preparation will kick start.
•The marriage ceremony.
On this day, the two families and well wishers assemble to witness the matrimonial bonding. A mat is laid and a new wrapper spread on the mat. The bride will then come in the group of her friends. They will come dancing to the music been played and greet the families. They will go back and she would change cloth and repeat the same greeting and go back again. She wound come back again but this time only with two of her best friends and stand on the mat. They would be asked to sit and her friends will say her waist aches her and so, they can’t sit. The groom’s family will then keep spraying money on them until they feel like sitting.
The groom dressed in the same cloth the bride is putting on, comes with two of his supposed best friends. They will at first refuse sitting waiting for the bride family to spray them with money but that will definitely not happen but his own families and friends will do so, they will sit down on their own mat with a wrapper also spread on it.
The mediators from the groom family will come with kolanut, bride price and drinks and present them to the mediators of the bride family asking them to give them their daughter for their son. The bride family would now ask their daughter if they should accept it and she will affirm to it. They will now accept it telling their daughters they don’t eat kolanut twice and give warning to the bride family that the feeding, clothing and health of their daughter will be their responsibility henceforth. They would also warn them not to turn their daughter into a punching bag. They would now formally give their daughter out for marriage.
After this, food will be shared and other activities depending on the groups, society and wealth of the families will began. This could be followed up by either the islamic wedding or traditional wedding depending on the faith of the two. The bride will be taken to her husband house that night together with her properties bought for her by her family and gifts from well wishers. Ukpehe(locust beans) will not be part of the things that they will take to her husband house that night because they believe the smell it produces comes with bad luck. They take it there the following day.
•Post marriage ceremony rites.
This post marriage rites are done in the husband family’s house. Two rites are performed. The first been the oje uyin okoh while the second is known as abdekeyi
The oje uyin okoh is simply the cooking of swallow for the family of the groom by the bride’s family. It could be cassava and maize flour, semovita or even pounded yam with soup garnished with meat and fish. The richness and sweetness of this will influence what will happen in abdekeyi. Infact, if this rite is not performed as supposed, it becomes an everlasting insult on the bride.
Abdekeyi is the presentation of gift for the bride by the grooms family. The richness of this rite depend on the oje uyin okoh and the bride’s relationship with them before the marriage. After this rite, the traditional marriage ceremony will come to an end and all the people from the bride’s family that went with her to her husband’s house will return home and the groom and bride will be left alone.
This marks the beginning of their marital life and hopefully after nine months, the fruit of their marital union will manifest.
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