Marriage in Igboland, it is every parent's dreams for their sons and daughters to get married and have children and retain the status of their various family names in the community and in the society in general. But there has been worries in having this achieved because many young men who are old enough to marry has been held back due to what it takes to marry and satisfy the in-laws unending demands.
It is often a common sight to see men as old as 40 remain unmarried not that they do not want to marry but because they lack the resources to do so. When you take some critical look into many Igbo communities you would simply discover that marriage is meant for mature men and not "boys" in (quote).
The questions arising from this therefore is, who are the men and the boys as long as marriage in Igboland is concerned? In answer, you would simply discover that the real men in the context here are the ones rich enough to meet the excessive demands of what it takes to marry in some of the Igbo cultures and not necessarily in age-wise.
Only those who are equipped financially are the very ones that could afford on the average, the exorbitant bride prices and provide all the items that are found in the long list of the In-laws requirements.
Some of this list includes but is not limited to the followings:
*Bags of rice,
*Goats, even cows,
*Tubers of yam in great quantities,
*Cash for various items and different categories of people in the communities both far and near.
*Sometimes another condition attached may include training one or two of the bride's siblings up to the university level which excludes every other eventualities which arises from time to time within the family.
After looking at all these, to be sincere, trust the Igbo men, they would simply keep postponing marriage because its only those buoyant enough that can afford between N400,000:00 to N1,000000:00 which some traditional marriage rites requires.
Another thing not readily coming to the minds of those cultures that demand too much for marriage ceremonial rites, is the situation of things in the country, where graduates are seen struggling with primary six drop outs at various bus stops and and in other menial jobs, just to eke out a living; therefore with all these put together, the least thing that crosses the mind of an average Igbo man is marriage.
Most of the Igbo girls on their own are not helping matters because they are looking for ready made men; which is blamable on their female colleagues who are likely to scorn them for settling for less so to say.
We've heard some heartbreaking stories of young boys and girls who agreed to marry each other when they finished from school and settle down with a well paying job, but who later couldn't live together again because of all it could possibly mean for the young man by the time he finishes from school with a job that could rarely take care of him not to talk of the second person.
There was a particular story of a girl who abandoned a young man who struggled for her tuition fee while in the university for a primary six wealthy businessman in Anambra State. Even though the lady objected initially to getting married to the trader but the realities on the ground could not help matters. That's just the fact, she ended up marrying him and abandoned the person who struggled to pay her school fees. So sad but true.
Sometimes by the time the young man eventually gathers enough money for the girl of his dream, so many things would have gone wrong and the girl may change her mind or the man himself may have seen someone else who is ready and willing to patch up with him anyhow. And you knows what that means, 'the lady on the wait receiving a phenomenal wedding invitation'!
Must the sad conditions continue to pose hindrances to the Igbo young men and women who are ready to settle down with their choice mates? Well, the high requirements in Igboland marriages has attracted the attentions of some states in Igboland necessitating them to do something about this 'evil wind' that blows neither them nor their sons and daughters any good.
Communities With Adjusted Bride Prices In Igboland:
*A community in Awka Anambra state, Nibo local Government Area has brought down the cost of traditional marriage rites to enable their sons and daughters to get married.
With few bottles of drinks required for traditional ceremony and other little things here and there and N1,000:00 bride price you are done and would be given your wife.
That is a far cry for what used to be as high as hundreds of thousands to do. Even though some communities have their own conditions within the area, preferences are usually given to the men from the same community and a little different for those who are from outside of the communities.
*Another community in Anambra State, Uhuobo community in Okija Ihiala local government area, has also sliced their bride price to the lowest level for their sons and daughters to get married.
For instance, the bride price is no longer fixed because it is now more of a family thing than community decision and the 20 cartons of beer requirements formally has now been reduced to 4 cartons! Is that not steps in the right directions knowing that marrying from a family automatically ties the two families together.
Expensive marriage is not good and is badly affecting eligible suitors who want to marry and makes them turn their attentions to less important things in life.
While some communities are looking into this with the views of helping their children become more responsible in marriage and enjoy their union, others are still peeping from afar off.
In Abia state for example, marriage rites vary from one community to the other. While some communities are quite affordable, others are as high as one could think of, and those on the high sides are witnessing higher rates of collapsed courtships.
Places like Ngwa, Ikwuano, Mba-ano, some parts in Ngwa South, parts of Ebonyi State like, Afikpo North LGA, Ukawu in Onicha LGA, Mbaise, and other areas like that.
Those in support of higher bride prices usually come up with the arguments that it helps to deepen the men appreciations for their daughters but which is not, it rather cheapens them because they are usually viewed as a purchased property/article that could be handled anyhow they like.
There are some of the aforementioned communities that demands between N400,000 to N500,000 for the purchases of all that is listed on the paper apart from the traditional ceremony proper which must be fully funded by the man, and which gulps another N350,000 to N500,000 differently.
Sometimes if you decides to buy the lists by yourself, be certain to risk so many items being rejected making you to eventually spending more than you would have if you give them the money. Isn't that pure and outright wickedness?
Unfortunately too, it is all bouncing back and is telling much on the daughters of these communities who are being rejected or who are eloping with men of their choices only to be entranced with all kinds of hardships and shames of having to go back and settle all that they initially tried to avoid.
Would it not be better to have the elders of these communities with expensive bride prices and marriage rites come together and proffer some practical and lasting solutions to this problems that has been affecting their children, instead of leaving them to have their merciless gods to contend with by choosing some easy ways out, like running away with a man, having children for him and risking all sorts of curses from their homes and having no values in their husband's eyes.
If we believe that we all have our traditions which we must abide by irrespective of the modern civilizations, we will then know that it is necessary to do things with that in mind. It is true that marriage requirements will never be the same in all the states and tribes in Igboland. Which is a fact, but we should all know the ideas behind marriage contracts which love and compassion takes precedence in.
What makes marriage enjoyable is never the high bride prices paid nor any other hardships that the man is made to encounter during the wedding traditions, but the real love that is shared not by the husband and wife alone, but that which extends to the both families of the husband and the wife.
Sometimes and if cares are not taken, this love is overshadowed with long lists of endless requirements that the man is made to pass through during the marriage ceremony, which leaves him not only exhausted at the end of the strenuous wedding rites but also with just enough anxieties over the accumulated depths and how to go about paying them back.
Marriage in Igboland With Affordable Requirements
Abam and Isukwuato in Abia state are among these. With less than N150,000:00, all the requirements are met and you are done with your wedding. Some families even go below that and look for what to start you up with so that you could live peacefully together as husband and wife.
For these types of considerate communities in parts of Igboland, what matters most is not the money paid, but for the couple to live comfortably and in peace. There used to be a standing traditional marriage rule in Igboland which pegged the bride price at N60 or even less but the problem are being compounded by some greedy parents and ambiguous customs of some states in the Igboland.
Parts of Ebonyi State is on the high side but places like Izzi and its surrounding are wonderful when it comes to their marriage requirements. It is simply described as easy and straight forward venture to marry from there. They believe that instead of burdening their in laws with series of marital obligations, there are better things to do instead of that. They can even go as far as giving you a portion of land for free and empower you to the best of their abilities just to make sure that their daughter is happy with you.
But that is not so with Afikpo in the same State which make marital requirements very cumbersome for both families. Ukawu too in Ebonyi State is another funny place with endless list and requirements where you are made to pay for all the expenses that accrued right from birth of the girl to the point of getting married, and if she attended a higher institution, that makes the requirements double.
A man who went there earlier in 2015 to marry, recounted his experience by saying that it was not easy thing as he was made to go through several process which were both time consuming and expensive.
He related that after going through all these, that lady eventually changed her mind. So what do you think?
If the stress he went through were really what mattered, do you think that the lady would have changed her mind even when she knew very well that none of the items that the man brought could be refunded back to him?
Bride prices, traditions of various tribes in Igboland pertaining to marriage is an issue worthy of being properly looked into. Therefore, let those who are concerned but who could do something serious about it and make things easy for the youths who are interested in getting married from any part of Igboland, to go ahead without all those yesteryear marriage requirements or the modern trends of material wealth which had held a good number of prospective husbands and wives down for years.
Marriage in Igboland, for it to be enjoyed, should stern from the heart and not from unending lists that almost cripples the man or men wanting to get married.
If those traditions that guide marriage were truly said to have been made by some group of certain elders of their various communities and villages, would it be out of place for the same sets of elders to gather back and look into the exorbitant natures of their marital requirements and revisit the conditions and make it favorable for those who want to get married to their man or woman of their choices, and have it brought down to the present realities of today's economies and living standards.