In Igboland, The Igba nkwu is the fourth stage in the marriage process. It is a very colourful event involves Kins men of the bride and groom, relatives, friends and so many others.
The Igbo Traditional Marriage Ceremony
The first visit of the groom-to-be to his prospective in-laws is called ‘Iku Aka’ which means to knock. Before the ‘Iku aka’ the groom enquires about the bride and her family in what is called “Iju Ese”. For the “Iku Aka”, he is escorted by his father, some elderly relatives and some members of his family with some gifts such as Palmwine, alcoholic drinks, kolanuts etc. He introduces himself and his family members to the bride-to-be’s family, The groom to be communicates his intent to marry their daughter, after that he asks for the bride’s parents’ consent.
The father of the bride asks his daughter if he should accept the gift brought by the people seeking her hand in marriage. The supposed acceptance of the gifts by bride signifies acceptance of the man and his people.
If the bride accepts, their gifts are accepted and shared there and then, and further visits would be scheduled in order to discuss and negotiate the “Ime Ego” which is the Dowry of the Lady.
After this, the Traditional Marriage Ceremony proper called “Igba Nkwu Nwanyi” commences. The bride makes her first appearance dressed as a maiden with her maiden friends, she greets the inlaws and her people.
In her second appearance, she sells to the people then in her third and final appearance, she dresses up in the igbo traditional attire for married women, that is blouse and wrapper with a red, native coral bead necklace, and a flambouyant headtie (Ichafu). Her father pours her a drink (palmwine) to take to her husband. So, she and her maidens go in search of her groom who is hidden in the crowd. After searching him out, she kneels at his feet giving him the wine, he drinks from it ( signifies acceptance) and helps her to rise (signifies they are officially man and wife). They dance hand in hand and the parents of the bride and groom bless their marriage.
The bride’s family gifts her with house hold items start her new home, these include cooking utensils, bed-sheets, suitcases, boxes, bed, pillowcases, plates, clothes and other essential things she’ll need to begin their new life; with all these, the bride goes along with her sister or a maiden to her groom’s home for the first time, this is called “Idu Uno”. The bride’s sister can go back home after a few days to give feedback to her people.