The Igala people are said to have originated from the Arab Country of Yemen, now situated in Niger-Benue Confluence Region of the Middle Belt Area. Infact the Igala Language has alot of similarities with the Yoruba and the Kanuri Language. The Igalas are said to have a kind of chronological relationship with the kingdom of Nupe and Anges.
The Igala People have their traditional ruler at Idah, known as the Attah of Igala; among several cultural ceremonies of the Igala People include Ogbadu, Ogani, Ubi, Oya (marriage ceremonies).
We shall in this text shade a little light on the marriage process and ceremony in Igala Land.
Usually, girls were ready for marriage between the age of fifteen and eighteen (15-18).
As far back as 1875, courtship begins among individual during a trip to the river, stream, farm or during the moonlight play.
Sometimes parents go out to look for Wife or Husband for their children; even brothers and sisters do same for their siblings.
All these will later lead to engagement. Sometime when a baby girl is born, suitors will begin to approach the parents by sending firewood or bundle of yam or even pot of water, saying “ANAMI” (which means My-In-Law).
During engagement, investigation are carried out by both families to inquire of any disease, scandals and crime that may likely bring shame to them. In the absence of such scandals, the first step in marriage commence; the parent of the groom pay a casual visit to the girls family on an appointed day with a gift of few kolanuts among others. Declaring the intention of marriage.
The acceptance of the Kolanut by the girl in question is an indication of “Willingness and agreement”. The first step is called “UYON We EMUGBA” (interpret as follows; should you like me, then accept my gift).
The second step is the payment of dowry; which includes gift for the father, mother and siblings of the Bride; and members of the extended family would be part of the settlement by the Groom’s family.
After which, a date will be picked for the marriage ceremony, which usually takes place in the home of the bride’s family. Close to the date of the ceremony, the Groom is meant to send food stuffs or money for the occasion.
On the day of the marriage ceremony, there are lots of merriment where the Bride and the Bridegroom will be presented to the two families and the public. After the Bride prize is duely settled. Kolanut, palmwine, clothing materials and dry gin played prominent role in this ceremony.
An Elder from the Bride’s family normally presides over the ceremony by saying prayers and breaking the kolanut. Before the ceremony proper, the “Bride to be” will be sent to the Bridegroom’s family to spent fourteen days (14) or three market days in other to familiarize with her new family.
After the marriage ceremony, at sun set, the women and age grade from the Bride’s family with her friends lead the new Bride (who is now call Eyawo) to her husband’s house with all her properties.
While the family of the Bridegroom will be feasting, drinking, singing and dancing waiting for the arrival of the Bride. In most cases, the entourage of the Bride, normally send advance message to the Bridegroom that an obstacle is preventing them on their way, which required the Bridegroom to send money or gift items to remove the obstacle.
On arrival at the Bridegrooms, the new couple are expected to have their first sexual relationship, when both families are still staying with them.
The mother-in-Law’s demand for the bed spread on which the new couple slept; if there is stain of blood; the Bride is regarded as a virgin; and she will be accorded more respect, accompany with many gifts, including money. In the event that there is no blood stain on the bed spread, the bride, her family will be put to shame and such bride might be treated with disdain.
The reason all girls are advised to keep their virginity until they are fully married.
- Adejoh Akoh: (25 Sept., 2015): Marriage in Igala Land.
- Pat Uche Okpoko: (1990) Cultural Resource Management. An African Dimension. Wisdom Publishers Ltd.
- Sule Bello: (1999) An Appraisal of Cultural Practices, Education and Development in Africa; Cultural wise research journal of the National Council of Arts and Culture Vol. I
- Sadibo & Jacob, 2006: The making of Nigeria Niger — Benue Confluence connection (NCMM Museum of Colonial History Lokoja, Nigeria).