Traditional marriage in Igbo land (Igba Nkwu Nwanyi n'ala Igbo) is among the most esteem cultural practises among the Igbo accent, i.e Anambra, Abia, Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo and some parts of Delta State in Nigeria. And it is vast becoming a mandatory tradition among the Igbo tribe! It is performed when a young lady is being given out in marriage. The traditional marriage ceremony is the last phase in traditional marriage procedures. And it is fondly called "Igba- Nkwu" in Igbo language. The first phase in a traditional marriage is when a young man meet a young lady he admires and of which he is interested in marrying her. The first step is for the young man to sensitize his own family of his marital interest in the lady. Then another is for the young man to make a traditional proposal to the young lady, but some series of flings must have occured between the young lady and the young man before a proposal will take place!

Note: Before the official proposal will take place, both families will venture deep and delve on some compatibilities such as family background, the lady's idiosyncrasy, genetic diseases etc. After all these enquiries, both the young man and the lady will undergo a blood test in a hospital, so as to ascertain their genotype compatibility! In Igbo terms, these processes are called "Iju-Ese", "Nnyocha", "Njurita", "Igba-Nju" etc.

This proposal should be done in an official way, and should take place in the presence of the lady's parent or guardian. In Igbo language, it is called "Igbanye-Ihe". This is a procedure in which the young man that is interested in marrying a young lady will buy a gift for the young lady whom he wishes to marry! This gift is to be presented officially before the parents, relatives and some kindred fellow of the young lady.

* A Traditional Marriage Bride

This gift is usually a coconut and bread or any other officially presented gift, and this gift will be presented in the young lady's family, with the hope of her accepting this gift! If the young lady accepts this gift from the young man that presented the gift, it is significance that the young lady has accepted the young man's marriage proposal! After this proposal, an engagement ring is usually slotted into the lady's third finger of her left hand, and this is significance that the young lady is engaged! In Igbo terms, they do say, "Agbanyego ya Ihe!".

After the acceptance of this gift from the young man that intends to marry her, the next is for her parent or guardian to initiate a bride price on the young lady’s head and which is to be paid by the young man.

In Igbo Land, bride's price differs, just like in Imo State, but not all, especially Mbano and Mbaise areas do place an exorbitant bride price on their daughters, but not in all parts of Imo State! Culling from an experience, Ideato North and Ideato South have a moderate bride price! Anambra State, Enugu State, Abia State and Delta regions are good to go because they have a cheaper bride price on their daughters! But some parts of Ebonyi State do require a cow in place of a bride price, especially within Abakiliki axis!

After when the man has paid the bride price, the young lady and the man will engage in a courtship which will reasonably last for months, meanwhile in the interim, the young lady will be preparing for a three weeks stay at the man's house, and this is tribally called "izu-na-ato" in Igbo terms. After when the lady had finished her three weeks stay at the man's house, she will come home with gifts bought for her by the young man that paid her bride price. After that the young man will be preparing to pay a visit to the lady’s house so as to collect the list of what will be needed for the Traditional Marriage Ceremony fondly called "Igba-Nkwu". The list will include what the lady’s kindred Umunna, females from her kindred who are married Umuada, her fellow females Umu-agboghobia etc will require.

The requirements are usually kegs of palm wine, tribally called "nkwu-elu" or "mmanya-ngwo", Kola nut "Oji Igbo", Alligator pepper "Ose Oji", cartons of beer e.g. Star, Gulder, Harp, 33", Hero (Ooompa!), Legend, Guinness Stouts, Bottled or Canned malt, Soaps, Textiles etc depending on their demand. Some towns like Achina, Umuchu, Akpo, Umuomaku, Enugu-Umuonyia, Nkpologwu, Amesi, Uga, Ekwulobia, Oko, Umuona, Oraeri, Ezinifite, Onitsha, Ichida etc usually have a cheap bride price! When the young man have met the following requirements either in cash or physically presented, then the day of the traditional marriage ceremony will be negotiated between the man, the lady's family and her Kindred (Umunna).

* Refreshment Items (Item 7)

After the negotiation of the ceremonial date, the next is for the young man to venture into printing of invitation cards for the marriage ceremony. This invitation cards will be used to invite people to the Traditional Marriage Ceremony, but some people, especially close relatives, will receive oral invitation, while some will be treated with specialty. The young man will also be preparing for the traditional marriage outfits too. The outfits will include traditional bridal attires (as pictured above), Ashebi girl's attires etc. A day before the D-day, some special preparations will take effect, such as erection of canopies, decoration of the whole ceremonial arena with balloons and fabricated nylon tapes etc. On the D-day, species of food will be prepared for the guests, buying of items like grinded groundnuts "Okwu-Ose", garden eggs "Anara", Alligator Pepper "Ose-Oji" and so on, which will be used for prayer and refreshment purposes. On the same D-day, a special seat, normally a cane weaved seat will be brought to the ceremonial arena, and to be positioned within the High Table circus. This ceremony is to be ignited with musical plays; sooner the music will be brought to a halt and will be preceded with a special prayer by an elder from the family using a cup of palm wine, kola nut and alligator pepper. This prayer is deemed to seek the protection of the Almighty God in the Traditional Marriage Ceremony, and as well to guide the bride and bridegroom in their marriage. The opening prayer is followed by the introduction of the guests by the master of ceremony "MC", but before this, the guests and the celebrants will already be seated, but the bride and the bridegroom are not going to stay together because the introduction of the Bridegroom by the Bride has not taken place, so the bridegroom will seat alone in one of the specially cane-weaved chairs that were made available by the wedding organizers, and the bride will not be at the ceremonial arena. As the introduction of guests by the master of ceremony had exiled, ushering in of the bride by the Ashebi Girls will follow it up. The Ashebi Girls are those girls who are uniformly dressed, standing in a two-way serial line at the back of the bride when she is coming out to the ceremonial arena. After the ushering in of the bride by the Ashebi Girls, the bride will get seated where her parents are. 

The next is for her father, or a male member of the lady’s family to present a cup of palm wine to her, telling her before the guests that they don’t know who her husband is, and that she should show them whom her husband is. By now the bridegroom would have gone into hiding, so that the bride will locate him, and for sure this is one of the most fascinating and ecstatic moment in the ceremony, coupled with a lot of effrontery. And the memory lingers in the mind of the bride; even years after incident took place. And the bridegroom will hang among his fellow youths, waiting for the bride to locate him. When the bride finally sees her husband, she will head directly towards him, kneel before him, drink 1/8 of the palm wine in the cup and hand it over to her husband, and her husband in return will accept the palm wine, drink it all and stand up in company of his bride to the specially prepared cane-weaved seat located in the high table circus.

* An "Igba Nkwu" High Table Setting

And this is accompanied with a lot of cheers and applauds from the MC, guests and both families. After this, is acrobatic displays fondly called "Ida-iya" by members of the both families. After that, both families will present kola nuts to the high table, and the kola nuts will be shared among the families and some guests. And after that a kola nut prayer will be anchored by the eldest man from the bride’s family, and this prayer is for aegis on the new traditionally wedded couple, and also for Almighty God to help them in their union.

When the prayer has ended, the elder will break the kola nut, and any guests who were given a kola nut will break it along side with the elder who prayed the prayer. Then the guests will take their kola nuts home so that the kola nut will describe itself to those who didn’t attend the traditional marriage ceremony. In Igbo Language it says, "Oji ruo ulo, o kowaa ebe osi were bia". After this is the presentation of items like drinks and other things as listed earlier to Ndi Umuada, Ndi Umunna, Ndi Nluudi, and Ndi Umu-agboghobia who were related to the girl’s family. After that, food and drinks will be shared among the guests by the Ashebi Girls. During refreshment, comes the "Bridal dance". 

The bridal dance this is a phenomenon whereby the new traditionally wedded couple will stand out for a dance to the tone of the DJ’s music. This dance is accompanied by the members of both families i.e both of the bride and the bridegroom, and some guests do take part in it. The bridal dance is generally characterized with the guests spraying currency notes to the traditionally wedded couple, although this spraying of money has been banned by Nigerian Government, although some people do inculcate this habit, and it is generally called "Ija-ego" in Igbo. As the bridal dance cum refreshment is over, the next is closing prayer by any member from either of the family. As the closing prayer had exiled, DJ’s music will precede it, and by now the guests will be departing to their various nooks and crannies. The depature of guests is significance that a Traditional Marriage Ceremony have come to an end!
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