Are you planning to marry an Igbo woman and worried about how much your traditional engagement will cost? Then, forget everything they told you that you can’t afford to marry an Igbo woman because most are lies – the igbo traditional engagement list for marriage is not as overwhelming as people tend to make it. In this post, you will find out the things that really make up the customary ibo engagement and bride price list for traditional marriage, which is one of the most stress areas for a groom-to-be who is about to marry an igbo woman. This will help know how much your traditional marriage ceremony would cost.
Marriage Introduction & When to Present the Engagement List
If your girlfriend said yes to your marriage proposal, the next thing is to take your marriage proposal to her family, her parents first. In igbo customs, this initial marriage proposal/ introductory rite is known as ‘iku aka’ (literal meaning: knock on the door). You’ll first have to go alone to her parents and then take your family to see her bigger family (her parents and extended family). After the groom and his family receive a positive response from the bride’s family, they will also receive ‘a list’ of the next steps to enable them budget and prepare for the customary igbo traditional marriage ceremony. That list is the bride price and engagement list. Scroll down to see what it looks like.
As part of igbo custom, to marry an ibo girl, a a groom-to-be is expected to ask and receive the consent and blessings of the bride-to-be’s parents as well as her extended family. Once they all give their consent, the groom can then proceed to complete the rest of the traditional marriage rites, which includes: the bride price payment (ime ego) with presentation of the engagement list, and the formal traditional wedding party (the igba-nkwu).
The Igbo Bride-Price and Engagement List
Most grooms-to-be get nervous about what is in the igbo traditional marriage list – so much so that they start to hear so many lies of how the list is so not-affordable. That is not true, because there’s a lot of similarity between the contents of engagement lists across various Nigerian tribes. Find below the detailed list of items a groom-to-be should buy for his traditional marriage introduction/ proposal, at his future in-law’s place.
*NOTE: This list is to guide you in budgeting, and please do not buy them until you officially ask and receive it from your inlaws – that is the custom. Note also that the list varies slightly (slightly) from one igbo village to another. Read on.
Category #1: Gifts for the Umu-ada (Igbo Traditional Engagement)
In English, umu-ada means daughters. In this case, the gifts for the ‘umu ada’ would be shared among all the grown daughters in the bride’s extended family.
- Wrappers (George or Abada such as Vlisco Hollandais, ABC, Nigerian Wax)
- Igbo-style lace blouses
- Igbo Ichafu scarfs (assorted styles and colours)
- Shoes and bags (assorted designs and colours)
- Jewelry (wrist watches, earrings, necklaces and rings in either gold, silver, gold plated/ GL)
- Toiletries (bath soaps, body creams, washing detergents, perfumes and so on)
- Drinks (malt and soft drinks)
- Lump sum cash gift
Category #2: Gifts for the Umunna (Igbo Engagement List)
The items in this category will be shared amongst the males/ heads of the extended family of the bride to be.
- Kola nuts
- Palm wine (in gallons/ jerry cans)
- Bottles of hot drinks
- Cartons of assorted drinks (malt, soft drinks and beer)
- Tobacco snuff
- Cigarettes (rolls)
- Goat (1)
- Lump sum cash gift
RELATED: Traditional Wedding Checklist – things to do when planning a traditional marriage in Nigeria
Category #3: General Gifts (Nmepe Uzo)
In English language, “nmepe uzo’ literally means ‘to open the door’.
- Bride price – Negotiable
- Cartons of star beer (2)
- Cartons of guinness stout (2)
- Cartons of malt (2)
- Crates of soft drinks (6)
- Bottles of hot drinks/ whisky (3)
- Tubers of yam (30)
- Bags of rice (2)
- Bags of salt (2)
- Onions (30)
- Palm oil (one 10 or 25 litres gallon)
- Groundnut oil (25 litres)
- Kerosene (1 gallon)
- Stock fish (1 basin)
- Meat – goat leg (2)
- Bread (25 loaves)
- Tins of Tomatoes (1 carton)
- Tins of Milk (1 carton)
- Tablet soap (1 carton)
- Talc powder – big size: saturday night powder or morning rose powder (20)
- Tobacco snuff (20 heads)
- Cigarettes (10 packets)
- Big basins (2)
- 5 sets of (George or Abada such as Vlisco Hollandais, ABC, Nigerian Wax)
- Igbo style lace blouses (2)
- Igbo Ichafu scarfs (2)
- Wrist watches (2 or more)
- Gold necklaces (2 or more)
- Large suitcase (1)
- Lamp / Lantern (1)
- Umbrella (3)
Category #4: Cash Gifts (During the Ime-Ego/ Bride Price Ceremony)
These are symbolic cash gifts – the groom and his family may negotiate each one down. These include:
- Money to bring down the pot from the fire (in igbo: ego nfotu ite) – N1,000
- Money to open the wine keg (ego ncha kishi udu or in some ibo dialects, ego nkwupu udu) – N1,000
- Money for in-laws (ego ogo cherem) – N50,000 (Ogo cherem literally means ‘inlaw, wait for me. One of our readers, Chinelo, says it also means ‘the money my in-laws presented to me’).
- Money for maternity bill (ego maternity) – N1,000
- Money for the village chief (ego onye eze) – N1,500
- Lump sum cash (ogwe ego) – N5,000
The Igbo Dowry, True Value of a Wife and Modern Day Twists
The bride price and the customary engagement list are symbolical and not the true value of a wife, which is beyond being quantified. So, it is wrong for a man to compare the worth of his bride-to-be or wife to the ‘symbolic’ cash value he paid as her dowry.
- Related: White Wedding Checklist – things to do when planning a white marriage in Nigeria
- See also: Simple way to estimate /budget how much a Nigerian wedding will cost
Budgeting for Igbo Traditional Engagement and Marriage Ceremony
The igbo bride price and engagement list for grooms consists of gift items that are shared among different groups in the bride’s extended family/ kindred (the umunna, the umuada, the youths etc.), they’re not only for the the bride’s parents. While the list can be intimidating to very young men who have recently started to earn a living, with some negotiation and bargaining and pleading, the bride’s family can usually tone down a few items. To help their future son-in-laws cut down the costs of the traditional marriage ceremony, we’re seeing many igbo parents waiving their part of the list in exchange for an intending groom to make a commitment to take good care of their daughter and her future children.
If you are an igbo bride or a groom married or about to get married to an ibo girl, tell me – is there any item that was on your engagement list, which is not on the above list. Or, simply, how is the above list different from your own traditional marriage list?