The Yoruba Traditional Marriage


Marriage is one of the basic institutions in life as it serves the society with different functions, It is indeed a constantly universal phenomenon, People of different society marry to ensure the continuity of life and human race.

In fact, if there is no marriage then we are all bastards because we will be born out of wed-lock and this will lead to a lot of societal malaises, Women will be treated unfairly, the cases of rape becomes rampant, and as such life becomes very difficult.

Read Also: Igbo traditional marriage list

The Yoruba Traditional Marriage
Yoruba Traditional Marriage – Photo Source:

Marriage has presents itself as a societal institution that curbs the cases of rape, sexual harassment, and also facilitates the satisfaction of sexual desire, urge and pleasure, As a result of this there is a need to look into the concept of marriage and also specifically analyse the way of conducting marriage in one of the major tribe in Nigeria, which is the Yoruba.

The concept of marriage is generally accepted but the way it is conducted varies and differs from one culture to another. It is said that “Marriage is heavenly made and celebrated on earth”.

Marriage denotes the unionism of two different souls to become a single soul. It is a special bond shared between two people, who tie wedding knot after promising to be companions for lifetime.

Marriage is intended to be a life contract but some instances might warrant the dissolution of certain marriages which is always functional.

The marriage institution plays a crucial and vital role in socialising the coming generation and it ensures the transfer of culture and civilisation from one generation to the other. It is indeed the foundation of the family institution which is inevitable in the Society for the continuity of life.

Marriage is a legal, social, and religious relationship between individuals which has formed the foundation of the family for most societies.

In history, Marriage has formed the basis of social contract between a man(husband) and a woman(wife). There are a lot of reasons for marriage but the primary one is to satisfy one’s sexual urge and procreating.

As noted earlier, the concept of marriage remains the same across the globe but the method of solemnising and conducting it differs from one culture to another, from one community to another, from one tribe to another and from one country to another.

Read Also: Yoruba List of Items for Traditional marriage and how it is celebrated

According to the Wikipedia, Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a socially or ritually recognised union between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between them, between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws.

The definition of marriage varies according to different cultures, but it is principally an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually sexual , are acknowledged. In some cultures, marriage is recommended or considered to be compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity . When defined broadly, marriage is considered a cultural universal.

Individuals may marry for several reasons, including legal, social, libidinal, emotional, financial, spiritual, and religious purposes.

Whom they marry may be influenced by socially determined rules of incest, prescriptive marriage rules, parental choice and individual desire.

In some areas of the world, arranged marriage, child marriage, polygamy, and sometimes forced marriage, may be practised as a cultural tradition.

Conversely, such practices may be outlawed and penalised in parts of the world out of concerns for women’s rights and because of international law.

In developed parts of the world, there has been a general trend towards ensuring equal rights within marriage for women and legally recognising the marriages of interfaith or interracial, and same-sex couples. These trends coincide with the broader human rights movement.

The Conduction Of Marriage Among The Yorubas

The meaning of marriage is the same across the world, the coming together of two or more souls for a life time either of different sex or the same sex, but the way the marriage is conducted differs from culture to culture.

Among the Yorubas, Marriage is always between a male and female counterparts, and as such, the tribe frowns at Same sex marriage in totality.

It is perceived to be a way of multiplying and ensuring continuity in human race, In the same vein, it is a way of satisfying sexual pleasure, and anyone found having sex out of wed lock is castigated seriously, looked down upon and seen as irresponsible.

In a typical Yoruba setting, When a man feels for a woman, he makes it known to his parent and a friend which he will make his intermediary between him and the fiancee, this intermediary may be a make or a female that is trustworthy and relates to the girl platonically.

Among the Yorubas, Men are seen as crown, and as such when a woman is mature and yet to be married, she is seen as crown less.

The Middle man(Alarina) who is appointed by the husband to be, or the family, makes an investigation thoroughly on the structure of the fiancée’s family, he checks if there is any hereditary disease among her family to ensure the safeness of their child and their offsprings, he also checks the reputation and background of the maiden family and vice versa, thus, the lady also appoints a person to investigate the background of the man’s family.

After that, If there is a problem on the part of a family, the marriage process won’t be made to proceed, and leads to the termination of any relationship between both parties, the only way both can still insist is by eloping without the consent of the parent, but on the contrary, if there is no fault found, the Alarina approves the marriage of the both parties and as such the parents also confirm it, then this lead to another step called the Momi Kin Mo e (Introduction).

Read Also: My Traditional Marriage & Wedding – You are Respectfully Invited

Introduction (Momi Kin Mo e)

The Introduction is usually done in the bride to be compound, it is done for the meeting and identification of the both parties’ family members especially the parent.

The groom’s family brings to the house of the bride tubers of yam and bottles of wine and palm wine, and also the bride family host the groom’s family by entertaining them and serving them foods to eat.

It is on this platform the date of the engagement and wedding will be chosen, in most cases the bride’s family is to choose the date of engagement.

Most people meet their religious head or consult the Ifa (Oracle) before choosing the date. When the day of engagement is fast approaching, the couples to be are advised to stay around and not to go too far. After this, the engagement and wedding proper now comes in place.

It is also in this event the bridal list (Eru Iyawo) and the dowry or bride wealth are pronounced, the bridal list looks like this.

Eru Iyawo (Bridal List):

1. Big Tubers of yam

2. Palm oil and Vegetable oil

3. Honey (1 big bottle)

4. Obi (Kolanut)

5. Orogbo (Bitter Kola)

6. Ataare (Alligator pepper)

7. Sugar Cane

8. Eso (Fruits)

9. Aguntan (Goat)

10. Isebe (Salt)

11. Oti (Drinks)

12. Owo Ori (Bride Wealth)

In some cases, the Eru Iyawo is usually more than this, not to talk of the fact that modernism and civilisation had changed and altered some things in this so called Eru Iyawo by adding some items to it.

Read Also: Awon Mass Wedding Festival in Shao, Kwara State, Nigeria

Owo Ori (Bride Wealth)

The bride price is not really fixed and somehow varies from family to family but a typical bride wealth looks like this:

a. Owo Ijoko Agba: Payment for the Elders

b. Owo Baba Gbo : Payment for the consent of the Father

c. Owo Iya Gbo : Payment for the consent of the Mother

d. Owo Omo Ile: Payment for the Children in the compound

e. Owo Isiju Iyawo: Payment for unveiling the Bride

f. Owo Iyawo Ile: Payment for the married Women of the compound

g. Owo Leta Kika: Payment for reading the letter

h. Owo Isigba: Payment for unraveling the engagement gifts

i. Owo alaga Ijoko: Payment for the master of ceremonies.


The engagement marks the official handling of the bride to the groom, and it is also a celebration done for thanking God for making the marriage process possible and a reality.

The event is conducted by the Alaga iduro from the bride’s family usually a female afterwards the Alaga Ijoko continues when the groom and his entourage enter the venue, he is not allowed in until he pays an amount of money.

The groom prostrates before his family and then before the bride’s family as a way of welcoming them and a sign of respect, After that, the proposal letter is read by the youngest girl of the bride’s family.

The bride then enters the venue, and she is the last person to enter the venue, she then kneels down before her parents for prayer and supplication and afterwards, she kneels before the groom’s family also, and then she is unveiled by the groom’s parent, this enables her join her husband and dresses him up with a cap (Fila) which connotes her acceptance of the proposal.

The Alaga Ijoko then instructs the bride to move near to the place where the engagement gifts are placed and she is told to pick the most cherished item to her.

She picks it up and a ring is attached to it and she moves back to her groom, he puts the ring on the fourth finger of her left hand and they move on to cut the traditional marriage cake.

Read Also: List of Traditional Marriage Requirements in Abak LGA, Akwa Ibom State

It is at this instance that the dowry is handed over to the persons entitled to it, the bride’s father returns the bride price to the groom after taking a minimum amount of it, to show the world she is not selling her daughter and he advises the groom to treat her well.

At this juncture, the wedding knot is tied and both parties are now officially joined together, the ceremony thereby ends with eating, drinking, rejoicing, dancing, felicitating and walking the couples off.

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