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(This song for this video is sung by a popular Igbo Nigerian Afrobeats artist, Flavour Nabania)

 

 

For Igbo (ee-boe) people, marriage is not a matter for the man and woman alone; it concerns the close kin of both. Marriage arrangements are negotiated between the families of the prospective bride and groom. The Igbo traditional ceremony is in stages, but they can be done a few days apart – it all depends on when the groom can get all the engagement gifts ready.

According to Ndigbo (the Igbo people) traditions and customs, the Igbo traditional wedding involves the following stages:

1. Marriage Introduction (Iku Aka or Iju Ese)
2. Consent From Her Umunna (Extended Family)
3. The Dowry/Bride Price Payment (Ime Ego)
4. Wine-Carrying Ceremony (Igba Nkwu)

 

By Igbo customs and tradition, following the Igba Nkwu ceremony, the bride and groom are officially declared husband and wife, and the groom is free to take his wife home. However, many couples, especially those here in the U.S. have both a traditional wedding (Igba Nkwu) and a white/church wedding.

Back in the day, Igba Nkwu was the only wedding ceremony of the Ndigbo, but these days, most Ndigbo couples have a church wedding (known more commonly as the white wedding) after their Igba Nkwu. Depending on the couple, the white wedding can be immediately after, a day after, or a few weeks/months after the Igba Nkwu.

Igbo traditional marriages are some of the most expensive in Nigeria. Compared to weddings in other ethnic groups, this ceremony often serves as an opportunity to showcase wealth and social status. According to native custom, the groom uses this ceremony to compensate the parents of the bride for raising a decent and responsible daughter, and also prove his worth as a man.

The Wine-Carrying (Igba Nkwu) is an integral part of the wedding. It is a feature that invited guests should look out for as it lends credence to the unique nature of Igbo culture. It is a gallant display where the bride is required to present freshly-tapped palm wine to her soon-to-be husband. She looks for him in the crowd (since he is hidden) as an enthusiastic group of men comically compete for her attention. Once she picks him out, she kneels before him as she presents the cup of palm wine for him to drink from. It is important for the groom to accept this wine and guzzle every drop. If he rejects it, he rejects the woman.

The traditional attire:

The Igba Nkwu traditional attire for the bride is usually either the traditional Igbo maiden wear (small pieces of wrapper around her chest and waist) or a george design double-wrapper with an Igbo style lace blouse. She will also wear cultural coral beads with a matching coral headpiece…or she may choose to tie an ichafu (ee-cha-fu) (head tie). The groom will don well-tailored Igbo traditional wear and will be matching with the wife. He also wears coral beads, though his beads will be longer. If he chooses, he can also wear a native hat. The women attendees and or bridesmaids can be designated aso-ebi (ah-sho-eh-bee), which is basically traditional uniform and can come in an array of colors and designs.

tradition
Sister (in pink) and bridesmaids of the bride wearing assorted aso-ebi with ichafu.

 

 

Date Last Updated: 5/9/2017

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