Before we talk about Urhobo traditional marriage, I have to commend the elites from Urhobo society because of their keen interests in having their cultural values maintained in spite of it’s ambiguous nature. In fact, Urhobo have nothing to hide as far as their culture is concerned whether good or not too good.
When it comes to traditional marriage arrangement, Urhobo people have it in quantum. If it is marriage, ‘everything goes in Urhobo and that’s just the fact!.
But to start with, who really, are the Urhobos? The people of Urhobo are from Nigeria, the largest single tribe in the present day Delta state of Nigeria. They are located within the Niger Delta and have some estimated population of 2 million. Their surrounding neighbors includes Itsekiri, Ukwuani, Isoko, and Ijaw.
They are predominantly farmers but the emergence of oil exploration has made them develop interest in other areas such as legal and other forms of occupations like engineering, education, and other white-collar jobs.
If we are to start looking at some interesting aspects of Urhobo lifestyles, we would deviate from the topic of our discussion which is Urhobo traditional marriage list and it’s requirements. So lets remain focused even as we may sometimes branch a bit for some clearer details.
The traditional marriage of the Urhobo people is so unique that if people have a tribe to single out as one that have A-ONE in all marriage arrangements, Urhobo is there to be picked!
If possible, it could have been easier to isolate traditional marriage from all other forms of marriages in the area but the problem is that, close to all the marriage forms in Urhobo, are all traditionally acceptable except for the Church or legal wedding which seems to be denying them some certain privileges that they enjoy before the introduction into their customs. For instance, Polygamous marriages.
It is true that Urhobo marriage arrangements embraces extended families and that the chances of divorce is rare but their being deeply rooted in the customs of long ago is what so many people finds faults with.
The forms of marriages allowed in Urhobo traditions includes the following:
(a.) Esavwijotor – This is a form of marriage which allows the parents of either the boy or the girl to propose marriage on behalf of their children at an early age. This often happens when either of the parents sees a boy or girl behave in certain satisfactorily ways to them. With this type of marriage, love develops only after the couple had been officially married and starts living together.
(b.) Ose – This is a form of marriage that is recognized as binding but in which the dowry has not been paid and accepted as prescribed. The couple may enjoy all the benefits of marital rights but is customarily limited as legal couple and thus could not play some expected roles of an in-law. More of a concubine in nature.
(c.) Arranged In Absentia -The male who is usually out of the country may request his parents to look for a girl and marry for him without any formal contacts between the real couples as both of them may not have seen or know each other previously. In this type of marriage which is traditionally cerebrated, the man’s brother or a chosen friend would present himself as the husband of the bride.
After the marriage ceremony, the wife would be expected to spend time with his absent husband’s family before she would be packaged to her oversea husband which is usually a 50-50 adventure.
If the husband or the wife is not satisfied, the marriage will be called off but if it clicks, it would be consummated.
(d.) The Modern Courtship – When I stated initially that Urhobo has it all when it comes to marriages and the accompanying traditions, I know what I have in mind. This last on the list is the popular type that we have in every other tribes in Nigeria.
A boy meets a girl of his choice which the parents may not know of initially but which they would later be informed. Both family then gets involved and if they agree, plans are made to solidify it with traditional rites before they go to either church or the Registry for the legal marriage.
As you may have noticed, we have taken you round for a while in this post trying to get to the proper traditional marriage list in Urhoboland; and that we have to do in order to get all the facts related to Urhobo cultures dealing with their marriage arrangements since they are all recognized traditionally.
Urhobo Traditional Marriage Proceeds As Follows
Both families usually meet at the stipulated day for marriage rites after the formal introductions. On this very day, the bride’s family would welcome them and drinks, kola nuts even with money would be presented to the visitors.
After the initial customary entertainments, the visitors are asked of the purpose of their visit through a spokesman. The visitors will tell them that they have come to marry one of their daughters for their son, who may even not be around.
After the bride’s family accepts the explanation, another traditional protocols of identifying the particular daughter ensues. The visitors are told that they have many daughters and do not know which one their son would like to marry.
At this instance, about three to four girls are made to pass through their front which they would keep rejecting until the main one comes out. The rejected ones are usually given some money as compensations.
Once the preferred comes out and her consent sought & given, which is mere formality as they may have known themselves before, the dowry will then be paid which had been negotiated and agreements reached before now.
The Urhobo traditional marriage usually culminate with the bride’s father or his representative, pouring a liberation drinks using a native dry gin known as (Ogogoro) which may be substituted with Gordon gin and kola nuts.
After the prayers by the bride’s father to bless them, the bride sits on the husband’s lap while the blessed drink is given to the husband who drinks first and gives to the wife, she takes little and hands it back to her husband to finish up.
At this point of the tradition procedures, they are declared husband and wife and the occasion turns really hot with music, dancing and gifts exchanging hands while the couple are showered with gifts of money sprayed on them.
The last part Known as “Esuo:” Is the escorting of the newly wedded back home with prayers and goodwill. Then at the husband’s compound, a special ceremony is performed to evoke the spirit of the husband’s ancestor to receive the new wife and bless them with the fruits of the womb and to remain with her husband till death in a ceremony which usually last till dawn.
We are having all these details brought to you because a typical Urhobo wedding are often misrepresented by those who are not properly acquainted with the necessary procedures of their tradition.
Because of this too and to show that they are not sleeping over the seriousness over the matters involving their marriage traditions, the people of Urhobo had even embarked on a huge project to have it put on the world’s view for proper documentations and for record keeping purposes too.
The extensive protocols of Urhobo traditional weddings are what usually make it to appear as if it is on the high side per se but which is not really so. The major issues involving marrying an Urhobo woman is that the groom cannot deny the fact that some things had definitely gone out him both emotionally and financially which makes adequate preparations a must!.
Here are what to be expected on the list of an Urhobo traditional marriage list and their purposes.
(1.) One bottle of hot drink. This serves to state the mission of coming
(2.) Another bottle of hot drink with N500.00 for commencement of marriage formalities
Acceptance of the marriage proposals also goes with it’s own requirements and these includes but not limited to the following:
1. N2,000 for the youths of the bride’s family both male and female
2. N2,000 for the bride’s mother and the wives in the family
3. N1,000 with a bottle of hot drink
4. N1,000 for the presentation of the bride and spraying of the bride’s mother by the groom’s family
5. Prayer for the couple by the bride’s father goes with one bottle of hot drink, a plate of native kola nut, and N400.00
6. N6,000.00 with a bottle of hot drink to accompany it for the bride’s price which is usually determined by the bride’s father.
Then for the bride’s father, the following gifts:
*1 Traditional hat
* 1 Traditional men’s wrapper
* 1 Traditionally made walking stick.
Then for the mother:
* 1 Traditional head-tie
* 1 Traditional blouse
* 1 traditional wrapper plus N5,000.00 cash for recognizing her labor pains.
For the bride goes the following gifts:
* 1 A box of clothing materials of various types
* N15,000.00 cash for her chastity.
For the family:
* Three bags of salt to compensate the bride’s family women for their collective efforts in helping to bring up the girl
* N5,000 escort fee to take the bride to her new home.
Then lastly, the groom and his family members also carter for the entertainments of the guests, Arranging with the bride’s mother for the serving of a native soup called “ogwo’figbo” and to present gifts to the guests at the wedding.