One Week, One Proverb


a calabash of palm wine (pic courtesy: flickr)

Case 17:

“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.

41 thoughts on “One Week, One Proverb

    1. Haha. Our people say that “a proverb is the palm oil with which (good) speech is eaten.” O bu okwu ziri ezi, nwanne m.

      Thanks for your comment.

    1. Oh no…far from it. It’s a way of life; one of our core values. In fact, most men and women from my tribe prefer to get married traditionally before going to the altar (white wedding).

      Well, I believe love, tolerance, and understanding are the basic ingredients for a good marriage. I don’t know much about marriages in the west, but I was once told by a friend in New York that the bride at a wedding ceremony is the only one allowed to appear in white. That’s a good thing because the bride gets all the attention on that day. Here, it’s not the same. On the day of the a when a man and woman finally weds in church, you’ll find some people in the congregation wearing white as well.

      1. Thanks for that info – I quite like the idea of that tradition. I assume the couple know each other before they go to the woman’s house and it’s more a case of getting permission from her family, as partly still happens in England?

        I agree with those ingredients for a marriage, but I wouldn’t mind who wears white, although yes it is tradition for the woman just to wear white.

        1. You’re correct. Both are expected to be lovers already. The visit to the woman’s house is just to make it open to all and to respect the land on which they walk on everyday.

          Well, let me take you back to pre-colonial Nigeria, the days of my great-grand fathers. Then, they had what was called arranged/blind marriage. It’s a situation where two families agree to get their children (who don’t even know themselves) together as man and wife. If I’d found myself within such period, I would’ve gone against such tradition 😦

          Thanks for telling me telling some bit about how the English do theirs. That’s beautiful.

        1. OMG! Are we that popular that you were able to comment, and correctly too, about modern day wedding in Nigeria? I mean…I’d expected such a comment from a West African, but it shows you are quite an observer. Yes, that’s what in vogue when it comes to attires for marriage nowadays. It quickly distinguishes the family of the man and that of the woman from their many guests. This situation is mainly found in the marriage of the rich/well to do.

    1. Absolutely. I’m glad you share the same view with me in spite of what was used as the topic. It’s not in my best interest to offend my female readers. As always, thanks for commenting.

    1. I agree completely. My mother usually says that “marriage is a parcel; what you see is what you get.” Well, my people believe that the customary process that leads to marriage is good step. Yes, I admit that it helps to a great extent, but it’s not a guarantee. The sacrifices made for a marriage to move on are all that matters. No marriage is a smooth ride.

      Thanks for your comment, Ronnie.

    1. Yeah, when we are not sure of what we are doing, that becomes a problem. Also, what may seem right now may lead to a bitter outcome later.

      My writing? It’s not easy, my brother. I’ve been rusty as of late.

    1. Definitely, Barbara. A firm foundation is a blessing. That’s what everyone prays to have, or build on. Marriage…it’s a story with many versions.

      Thanks for commenting.

  1. Interesting… I live in a Muslim country so can relate completely…x

    ps: I will mail you soon regarding what you sent to me…x

    1. Awwww…that will be nice! I thought you forgot completely and was considering writing you again today.

      About marriage: I believe Muslims have theirs as well. It’s rich, too.

  2. Uzoma, thank you for this education! In America, some African-Americans “jump the broom” when they get married because our African ancestors (who were slaves) were not allowed to get married. Back then, when they had their “quasi marriage,” they literally jumped over a broom. A couple members of my family “jumped the broom” when they got married. Some men still go to their bride-to-be’s father and ask for her hand in marriage. My husband actually asked my dad if he could marry me, which was crazy because my dad was in prison at the time, but we went to the prison and he asked him! I know…that is another long…story lol My husband has a very traditional way of thinking. He loves tradition and I eh… can take it or leave it most times. Hmm…this is getting long. Sorry : / If you want to know more, shoot me an e-mail Blessings to you and thanks again for sharing : )

    1. Wow! I used to consider blacks over there in the U.S., Europe, and other places outside Africa to be a different people because of their environment and language. But I am interested to know more and will write you after this reply…

  3. I so enjoyed reading of these marriage traditions Uzo. Especially that most fathers are responsible and won’t allow just anyone to buy their daughter.

  4. With many ways upon the earth, it is always interesting to learn a few more with in their relationships to one another, and to peoples’, thanks, Uzoma…

    1. Really? Oh that’s wonderful. I’ll google it then and read about it. I love India, so this will be one more thing I know about the big country.

      1. actually there are multiple traditions as the country has varied clans,sects,states which differ in their traditions and customs.You can say it as a country which can represent at least 25 countries in having that many languages, cuisines,histories and landscapes as well!

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