Getting married in Nigeria according to customary law requires certain processes to be performed. The introduction ceremony is one of the most important steps that must be performed by an intending groom seeking a woman’s hand in marriage. Every tribe in Nigeria has a unique way that introduction ceremonies are expected to be conducted according to their customs. In this article, we will be explaining the way the Igbo introduction ceremony is performed. If you’re intending to get married to an Igbo lady, read this piece till the end to ensure you do things the right way.
How the Igbo introduction ceremony is done would be discussed below:
Why is the Igbo Introduction Ceremony Important?
Before we proceed to explain how a groom-to-be to an Igbo lady is expected to perform the introduction ceremony according to Igbo customs, let’s briefly state its importance. The first step after a man might have proposed to an Igbo lady and she’s accepted to marry him, the introduction ceremony is what to do next as it allows the would-be groom to meet the family of the groom alongside his family members. This procedure is important because it is what makes the intention of the would-be groom to be officially known to the family (extended family, including elders) of the bride-to-be.
How is the Igbo Introduction Ceremony Done?
This section of this piece will discuss the procedure of how the introduction ceremony is done according to the Igbo tradition. We will be explaining the procedure for the Igbo introduction ceremony under three subheadings. These are:
- Iku Ika or Iju Ese (Door Knocking)
- Consent from Extended Family
- Ime Ego: Bride Payment
Step 1: Iku Ika or Iju Ese (Door Knocking)
The Iku Ika or Iju Ese is the first part of every Igbo introduction ceremony. Iku Ika means ” to knock on the door”, while the English translation of Iju Ese is “to ask or inquire”. In this stage of the introduction ceremony, the would-be groom is expected to visit the family of his bride-to-be. The groom-to-be will have to be accompanied by his parents and a few family members and some friends. It is important to note that some discretionary gifts are to be brought along to be presented to the family of the bride-to-be. A gallon of palm wine, some kola nuts, and alcoholic drinks or wines are part of the items the groom-to-be family is expected to bring along.
It is in this stage of the Igbo introduction ceremony that the family of the bride-to-be will be told of the interest of the groom-to-be in marrying their daughter. The man intending to marry the Igbo lady will not be the person to make this announcement to the family of the lady. Instead, an elderly person that accompanied him, such as his dad or uncle, will act as a spokesman at this visit.
After the announcement made by the spokesman of the groom-to-be family stating the intention of marrying the bride, she would be called upon to give a response in the presence of everyone in the gathering. If she gives a positive reply, that is, a ” yes”, the gifts (kola nuts and drinks) brought by the family of the intended groom would then be accepted by the bride’s family and shared there. The parents of the girl will also be required to accept or deny the proposal made to marry their daughter. In the situation whereby the response the bride-to-be gives to the marriage proposal is a “no”, it brings the meeting to an end.
The groom and his family will be given the traditional marriage list and bride price document after the would-be bride and her parents have given a “yes” response to the marriage proposal made by the groom. Then, the would-be groom and his family would be expected to inform the family of the bride when it would be the possible date for the traditional marriage.
Step 2: Approval from the Bride’s Extended Family
After both the bride and her parents have given their consent, the extended family of the bride is also expected to give their approval. This happens after the “door knocking” visit has been completed. But before the extended family of the bride-to-be gives their consent, some secret emissaries would be instructed to investigate all there is to know about the would-be groom, including what he does for a living and his family background, among other things.
It is after the research made by the secret emissaries has proven that the groom-to-be is capable enough of taking care of the bride that the extended family can give their consent. The groom and his family will have to pay a second visit to the bride’s family to receive the consent of the elders of the bride’s extended family, as well as receive additional information on the customary marriage requirements to be met.
At this juncture, the dates for the traditional marriage rites and ceremony can be scheduled and things can progress from there. This second visit also requires that the groom and family bring along several gift items such as kola nuts, palm wine, beer, soft drinks, and a goat.
Step 3: Ime Ego: Bride Payment
The Ime Ego (meaning bride price) stage is the final aspect of the introduction ceremony. But before the day slated for the bride’s payment, the groom and his family would already have asked the bride’s family about the customary engagement items to bring. The day for the bride’s payment involves negotiations between both families (that is, the groom’s and bride’s families) to arrive at what the worth of the bride’s Ime Ego would be. The bride’s payment is symbolic and does not determine the real worth of the woman.
After the bride payment is concluded, the date for the traditional marriage ceremony would have to be chosen by the groom’s family. But if the engagement items are provided on the date set of the Ime Ego, the traditional marriage ceremony (Igba Nkwu) will be held on the same day.