a calabash of palm wine (pic courtesy: flickr)
“Come and marry my daughter” usually goes with strings attached.
In Igboland, Iku aka is the first step before marriage. It’s the custom for a man to be accompanied by some members of his family (which includes his parents) and respectable elders from his people to the house of the woman he intends to marry. After the exchange of greetings, breaking of kola, and serving of fresh palm wine/up wine, the eldest male from the man’s people discloses to the woman’s family the reason for their visit. If the woman’s father or any other responsible male old enough to stand on his behalf is pleased with their intentions, he would respond by calling out the young women in the house first. He would ask the man seeking for a wife to identify who he would like to marry afterwards. This is usually a very a simple test.
Two weeks later or thereabout, a bride price (dowry) is negotiated. The man returns with his people for the traditional marriage at a fixed date.
No responsible Igbo father will give away his daughter to a stranger or some passer-by in the name of marriage. Regardless of the money that may be offered aside from the bride price, he will not give in if he suspects or considers his daughter’s suitor as dangerous or promiscuous. But this is not always the case. Some will offer their daughters without following the marriage tradition. This is dangerous and it often leads to a wrecked marriage.
Away from marriage now…this idea of being presented with the carrot of easy outcome is risky, especially when there is/are laid down rule(s) that will not only be to our own benefit, but to that of people around us. Doing what is right pays…every time. I confess that I’ve tried the easy way out in the past. The result was ***! That is, if you know what I mean.