Efik and Calabar Traditional Marriage List and requirements

In this post, you will see the Efik and Calabar Traditional Marriage List and requirements. You will find this list useful if you are trying to marry a Calabar girl.

The efik kingdom of Cross River State, Nigeria has a rich cultural heritage just like most Nigerian tribes. Apart from the mouth watering delicacies, the efiks have more in culture that explodes the mind and leaves you intrigued. One of the aspects that portray this beautiful culture is the unique traditional marriage rites.

Traditional marriage rites in Efik Land and requirements

When a man in love with an efik lady wishes to take the relationship to the next level, he first of all informs his family who will join him in writing a letter to the family of the girl, stating their intention. This letter is accompanied with several bottles of drinks ‘MMIN UKOP IKO’.

The girl’s family will only forward a reply if they are pleased with their daughter’s choice of suitor. Upon their reply, the man gets permission to visit the girl’s house with his kinsmen to meet his prospective in-laws for the first time. This stage which is the introduction is called ‘UDIONG UFOK’, the young man and his family will come bearing drinks ‘MMIN MBUB’ to officially seek the consent of the girls’ family. The girl’s extended family will all be present to behold the man their sister wishes to marry.

At the end of a successful introduction, the man’s family is given a date for the next step which is the ‘knocking of the door’ {UKONG USUNG]. On the fixed date, the man will go to the girls’ family with seven strong drinks [MMIN NKPO ITIABA}, and other drinks ‘MMIN AKAM’ for prayers after which the man is presented with the marriage list { NKPO NDO KI’DO EFIK}. He either agrees with the list or debates with the girls family for moderation.

Traditional marriage lists in efik land which come with a set of rites and gifts can be moderated depending on the families involved. The outing is rounded up with drinks of appreciation from the groom known as MMIN EKOM. Here is a summary of drinks to be presented by the groom

Drinks for expressing intentions ‘ MMIN UKOP IKO’…One brand, three bottles of star, two bottles of big stout, four Guinness malt and two bottles of soft drinks.

Introduction drinks ‘MMIN MBUB’….one big bottle of 1501, one dry gin, six bottles of star, two bottles of red wine, six bottles of big stout and any quantity of soft drinks with 30,000 naira cash.

Drinks for knocking of the door ‘MMIN UKONG USUNG’…. One brigadier brandy, one star and two soft drinks

Drinks for prayers MMIN AKAM … one dry gin, two bottles of star and soft drinks

Drinks for appreciation MMIN EKOM……..one St remy, one dry gin, one brandy, two bottles of red wine, six bottles of star, four bottles of gulder and stouts, soft drinks and 10,000 naira cash.

The list above is a generic and is subject to change. The efik bride price is a standard 12 pounds, it was set in pounds because of the colonial influence and was converted to 24 naira back then. It is advisable to pay in pounds today because of the fluctuating exchange rate.

THE FATTENING ROOM

In preparation for marriage, a prospective bride in efik land is sent to the fattening room. The girl is usually cared for by elderly women of her clan but not necessarily her mother. The fattening room aims at teaching the girl how to prepare special delicacies, how to be good in bed and basically how to raise a happy family.

The girl often acquires an admirable waistline, a fresh and robust look and a smooth skin as a result of traditional massage and skin therapy. She also acquires skills like calabash making and special dance steps which she will display on the day of her marriage.

Being an old tradition, the duration of the fattening room depended on how fast the girl acquires skills and responds to beauty therapy but in recent times the rites are carried out a day or two before the marriage ceremony. A graduation ceremony takes place after fattening room and this ceremony is always scheduled to hold on the traditional marriage day or a day before.

THE PROPER CEREMONY ‘NDO’

On the day of the proper ceremony which takes place at the bride’s family house, the groom and his family will be seated with the bride’s father and his kinsmen in a sitting room while other guests seat outside, the announcer or moderator known as MMA OFIORI NDO [ female] ETTE OFIORI NDO [male] will announce each item to be presented to the hearing of the guests seated outside. One of the major items to be presented is a box ‘EKEBE’ which contains different kinds of clothing, accessories, shoes to show how the groom will take care of the wife he is to be given.

The bride price OKUK NDO is paid, UFOP ISO EKA EYEN is paid to the bride’s mother, UFOP ISO ETE EYEN is paid to the bride’s father, the groom also pays OKPONO NDIDI to loosen the ties on his bride’s feet and arms to officially claim her.

When the ofiori ndo calls for drinks to be presented to the bride’s family, two well adorned maidens emerge with a brass tray containing the drinks [known as akpankpang] balanced on their heads for presentation. The akpangkpang an expensive commodity is very rare these days because not every family can afford it. Royal families who own it put it up for hire to those in need.

After meeting all the formalities, the groom who is usually dressed in a white singlet, a wrapper {nsobo], beaded shoes and a cap is ready to make his entrance to the arena where guests are seated, his friends troop in with him holding a beautiful ceremonial umbrella over his head while dancing to beautiful traditional drums and songs.

When he takes his seat, the bride, dressed in a ball like Elizabethan gown {onyoyo}, a beautiful staff and hair plaited up {ETINGHE} and designed with bronze combs{edisat] down to her neck or waist, makes her entrance with the ekombi dance and her friends follow closely behind dancing and cheering. She dances round curtseying in appreciation to the guests before she takes a seat beside her groom.

The final rite is the presentation of mostly kitchen wares by the bride’s mother and her family to the bride, these gifts are usually all an efik bride needs to keep her home running as nothing is seldom lacking. The ceremony ends as the couple take the dance floor while well wishers join them ad mist eating, drinking and much jubilation.

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Lami is from cross river state and holds a B.sc in accounting from a Nigerian university. Writing for her is a form of detoxification, she has written several articles for Essence magazine and runs political commentary on twitter.

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