There’s a right and wrong way to go about asking to marry an Igbo girl or woman from the elders of her (extended family) and most men do it wrong and spend dearly for their mistakes – scroll down to find out. How many times is a would-be-groom expected to visit his future Igbo in-laws before getting their consent to marry their daughter? What are the things a groom expected to bring to the introduction, during his first official (introductory) visit and subsequent visits to the bride-to-be’s parents and extended family. Continue reading to find out everything the groom need to know about the igbo customary marriage introduction in this post, which is part 2 of the series “Stages & Process Involved in preparing for an Igbo Traditional Marriage Ceremony” – you can find the links to the other parts at the end of this article down below.
Stages & Process Involved in Igbo Traditional Marriage Ceremony
The igbo traditional marriage rites and process can be broken down into 4 main stages, and the groom-to-be with his family members are expected to visit the bride’s direct and extended family for the necessary discussions and bride price negotiations. First, I need to share with you a common mistake you should avoid (below) that could cause you to spend more money.
Common Mistakes Men Make When Trying to Marry an Igbo Girl/ Lady
In Igboland, your marriage proposal (with your fiance) is not enough to take her to the altar. You need to meet and ask her bigger family, her father’s family. Asking her father or Uncle (guardian) is not enough, although it’s the right first step. Note that the process is simple, friendly and not complex at all – although most men let hearsay keep them from taking the next bold step. Read on to know how to go about marrying an Igbo lady according to the Igbo custom.
Many grooms-to-be to igbo ladies make the mistake of wanting to jump this stage – some take their very first visit to the bride’s extended family as the ‘traditional marriage’ only to be told that they have to obtain the traditional marriage list and prepare to do the ‘ime ego’ (bride price payment) and ‘igba nkwu’ (traditional engagement/ wedding ceremony). Courtesy, and tradition, demands that you first meet-and-greet elders of her family, make your marriage intentions known to them, and them OFFICIALLY ask them how to proceed to marry their daughter. You should not take a marriage list unless the bride’s family officially presented you with ‘the list’, usually upon your request when you make your introductory visit. However, on the very first visit, do not go empty-handed, make a good first impression by taking some good quality gifts (usually some bottles of wines and hot drinks, and anything else) – again, courtesy demands that. That’s (almost) how it’s done everywhere in Nigeria. In Igboland, if a groom-to-be brings the engagement list on his very first visit, your intentions would be suspicious, the items you bring would be received (but not regarded as ‘traditional marriage list gifts’) and you will still be required to bring the bride’s village official/ customary engagement list gift items – meaning you will spend more. Read on for the customary way to go about asking to marry an igbo girl or woman.
Visit #1: The Introduction, Proposal/ Inquiry (Iku Aka or Iju Ese)
The igbo translation of iku aka is ‘to knock on the door’ and “Iju Ese” is translated as: ‘to ask about or inquire’. This is the very first visit of the groom-to-be to his prospective in-laws. Escorted by some members of his family, the would-be-groom makes an introductory visit and formally introduces himself and his family members to the bride-to-be’s family, officially makes known his intent to marry their daughter, and then ‘asks’ for the bride’s parents’ consent.
The Groom’s Escort Party: You (the groom) should not go alone for the ‘iku aka’ visit – you are expected to be accompanied with your father and elderly relatives, plus a few close friends (optional). Here, the groom-to-be, accompanied by his parents and a small group of close family members (one or two uncles and aunts) visit the bride’s parents to officially announce his interest in marrying their daughter, and also asking the girl’s hand in marry their daughter. His father or an elderly Uncle would be the spokesman at this visit.
Discretionary Gifts: When going for the ‘iku aka’, the groom is not expected to take any gift along, but you can use your discretion to take a few gifts – not good to go to your in-laws empty handed. We see some grooms taking some hot drinks (some kolanuts, a small gallon of palm wine, alcoholic drinks such as schnapps/ whisky, and/ or non-alcoholic wine), on this initial visit to his future inlaws.
The bride may not be present during the ‘Iku Aka’, if she does not live with her parents. If she lives with her parents, she would be called in and asked for her own consent, and if her answer is “yes”, the gifts (kolanuts and drinks) are accepted and shared there and then, and further visits would be scheduled. If not, the meeting would come to an end. If the bride-to-be lives far from her parents, her family will tell you that you will be contacted with the answer/ response, whether a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. If you receive a ‘yes’, you proceed to the ‘ime ego’ stage.