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Guidelines for the Financial Aspects of the Urhobo Traditional Wedding (Emueruo r’Aye)

By C. E. Oyibo
Chicago, Illinois, USA
February 2011

Weddings, in general, are scarcely inexpensive undertakings. In the West, suitors are admonished to earmark three months’ salary for the purchase of the engagement ring; in ekw’otor r’ Urhobo, by contrast, the financial prescriptions are not always as clearly defined. The general requirements of the Urhobo traditional wedding, though familiar to many an Urhobo traditionalist, may appear nebulous to the uninitiated. A man wishing to marry an Urhobo woman in the traditional form must contend with such seemingly esoteric requirements as the presentation and support of kolanut, sedigwe, and kidio-owoh—each of which carries monetary accompaniments that often vary with the whims of the family and community.

To further complicate a potential suitor’s quandary, the traditional wedding, like many aspects of the Urhobo culture, is an occasion that is shrouded in a measure of mystery—especially to non-Urhobo and Urhobo raised abroad of home. Urhobo culture is steeped in nuance, oratory and protocol, and the Urhobo traditional wedding, being a vital aspect of that culture, manifests these characteristics in amplified tenor.

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the growing body of documentation on the Urhobo traditional wedding, in hopes that the mystery surrounding the occasion is unraveled and that Urhobo sons and daughters (as well as non-Urhobo stakeholders) might be better apprised of the financial aspects of its requirements. As details of the proceedings of the Urhobo traditional wedding per se have been thoroughly documented elsewhere[1], this paper focuses on guidelines for the financial aspects of the requirements of such weddings, those requirements themselves having been distilled from the substantive subject-matter knowledge held by Urhobo elders and the most ardent students of Urhobo traditions.

The guidelines presented here are based on a list of requirements of the financial aspects of the Urhobo traditional wedding originally compiled by the Oyibo family of Mosogar, for the benefit of the family member who may find himself befuddled by the business of the traditional wedding. That list, as well as these guidelines, are intended to imbue the wedding proceedings—from planning through solemnization—with a level of predictability in regards to its financial aspects, and to eliminate, or at least minimize, extraneous and capricious impositions.

A few words of advice to he who wishes to use the guidelines:

  1. The guidelines are just what they are offered to be—guidelines, intended to provide the reader with a sense of the financial aspects of the traditional wedding; by no means are they immutable. Do use your judgment to determine whether, and to what degree, to adjust the amounts prescribed.
  2. Be duly diligent to ensure that the guidelines suffice for your situation—that is, that there are no additional requirements of you; and, also, that none of the requirements are extraneous to your situation.
  3. Use the guidelines to acquaint yourself with the chronological protocol of the Urhobo traditional wedding, as well as, importantly, to gauge the typical monetary outlay, as part of your planning process.
  4. Be aware of variable expenses that may apply to your situation, such as those that may be required for entertaining, feeding, accommodating, and providing gifts to guests and the extended family.

The guidelines now follow. The currency (₦) is the Nigerian Naira.

1.0 Reception by Brides Family and Reciprocation by Grooms Family (Udede v’Uyere r’Egware)

The reception consists of welcome remarks by the Otota (designated speaker) of the brides family, introductions of members of both families and guests, and the presentation and acceptance of kolanuts and drinks.

Following the reception by the brides family, the groom’s family reciprocates with the following:

  Item Purpose
(a) 1 plate of kolanuts (evwe) The traditional presentation of kolanuts.
(b) ₦2000.00 To support the kolanuts (igho ra vwo che’vwe).
(c) ₦400.00 To elder(s) for the breaking of the kolanuts (igho ra vwo be re’vwe).
(d) 2 bottles of hot drinks The traditional presentation of drinks.
(e) 2 bottles of wine Ditto.
(f) 2 cartons of beer Ditto.
(g) 1 carton of stout beer Ditto.
(h) 2 cartons of malt beverage Ditto.
(i) 2 crates of soft drinks Ditto.

2.0 Presentation of Mission or Intent

  Item Purpose
(a) 1 bottle of hot drink To present the mission or intent.
(b) 1 bottle of hot drink plus ₦500 To accompany request for commencement of marriage formalities.
(c) 1 bottle of hot drink plus ₦1000 To induce the presentation of the bride.

3.0 Fees Associated with Presentation of the Bride, Acceptance of the Marriage Proposal, and Formalizing the Nuptials

  Item Purpose
(a) ₦1000 For the youth of the family (imeghene).
(b) ₦1000 For the young women of the family (emete r’uvweyin).
(c) ₦1000 For the wives of the family (eya r’uvweyin).
(d) ₦1000 For the bride’s mother’s family.
(e) 1 bottle of hot drink plus ₦1000 Sedigwe.
(g) Variable ‘Spraying’ of the bride’s mother by the groom and groom’s family.
(h) ₦1000 For the presentation of the bride.
(i) ₦1000 Kedio-owoh.
(j) 1 bottle of hot drink, 1 plate of native kolanuts, plus ₦400 For prayer for the couple by the bride’s father.

4.0 Settlement and Payment of the Bride Price and Other Nuptial Fees

4.0.1 The Bride Price

  Item Purpose
(a) 1 bottle of hot drink plus ₦6000 Obrigho.
(b) 1 bottle of hot drink To accompany payment of the bride price.
(c) Bride price To be determined by bride’s father.

4.0.2 Fees Accruing to the Bride’s Father (Ose r Ovwa)

  Item Purpose
(a) Variable

Igho r’erhu, ubiokpo ve ogbru. Fee for articles of traditional clothing:

  • 1 traditional hat (erhu)
  • 1 traditional staff or walking stick (ubiokpo)
  • 1 traditional man’s wrapper (ogbru)
  • 1 traditional shirt

4.0.3 Fees Accruing to the Bride’s Mother (Oni r Ovwa)

  Item Purpose
(a) ₦5000 Igho rugbe rha re. Fee to recognize and appreciate the labor pains the bride’s mother endured during the birth of the bride.
(b)

Variable

Fee for articles of traditional clothing:

  • 1 traditional wrapper
  •  1 traditional blouse
  •  1 traditional head-tie

4.0.4 Fees Accruing to the Bride (Ovwa)

  Item Purpose
(a) ₦15,000 Igho r’ikogho - Fee to recognize and honor the brides chastity.
(b)

Variable

A box or suitcase of articles of clothing.

4.0.5 Other Fees

  Item Purpose
(a) 3 bags of salt (Ughwaka) Fee to recognize the women of the brides family and to compensate them for their effort.
(b) ₦5000 Igho r’ usuovwa (or Igho r’ usuopolovwe) - fee to escort the bride to her matrimonial home.

5.0 Wedding Dinner and Other Festivities

  • In-laws to entertain guests outside the arena of the wedding ceremonies by providing music, drinks, food.
  • In-laws to arrange with brides mother to prepare and serve native palm-oil soup (ogwo’figbo).
  • In-laws to present gift items to all who are present at the ceremonies.

Footnotes

[1] A Text for Isoko-Urhobo Traditional Marriage in the Diaspora (external site).

Acknowledgements: The Oyibo family of Mosogar, for compiling and providing the original list that served as input into this paper.

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