The inspiration for this piece came from my friend Emeka and his long-time bride-in-waiting Ngozi (not their real names) who have been planning to get married for some time now.

Emeka lives in the UK and hasn’t been to Nigeria in a long while, and so he wanted to find out from me how much weddings (traditional and white) cost these days in Nigeria. Obviously he wanted me to share some of my July 2005 experiences with him.

As a long time friend, I obliged him and started by telling him that wedding costs will vary amongst Nigeria’s many tribes, and that it was an entirely different matter in Igbo land, a special case if you like, being that Igbo native customs and traditions make traditional weddings and the associated events seem like a haggling affair in a typical Nkwo Nnewi motor parts shop. The impression one normally gets was as that the bride- to- be was being sold, hence many eligible brothers now walk down the aisle later than they would have wished, as time is usually required for the brother to get his act together, graduate from university (at the mercy of striking lecturers), get a job (at the mercy of banks, telecom and oil companies), build a house in the village (depending on the part of Igbo land the brother is from, and also on his socio-economic background).

Emeka however insisted that I give him a rough estimate which I eventually obliged him. On hearing this he screamed out aloud, I thought he was having a heart attack. I however reassured him that he didn’t have to spend that much, after all if those artisans, farmers and low income earners in Nigeria can do it, then he too could since he was living in the UK and acquiring the almighty pounds. I reminded him that he shouldn’t forget the saying about people cutting their coat according to their clothes (not their size) when it comes to weddings.

We briefly engaged each other in a lengthy banter over the double standards in most Igbo towns and villages, where it seems that different rules are applied in marriage matters to potential suitors, one set of rules (the flexible one) for the home-based and another (the more expensive one) for the akata suitor.

Emeka was troubled because he and his bride- to- be are Igbo, he is neither a 419er or a fraudster and earns his money the hard way doing you know what in the UK, and so he just couldn’t understand why he should spend all that money, (savings from months if not years of sweat) in what he termed a ‘ritualistic wedding ceremony’.

When he called me again a few days later, I knew that trouble was brewing, and that probably our conversations may have stirred up some troubles in his household, or should I say his heart.

‘I think I know what I’m gonna to do’, Emeka said, in his fake Britico accent

‘What then’? I enquired

‘I will simply go to Nigeria, and meet my in-laws, if they won’t come down to my level and accept me the way I am, then I will call the marriage off’.

‘It’s not that simple as you think, also the matter is beyond your in-laws, it is an umunna (kindred) matter’.

‘To hell with umunna’, he retorted. ‘I don’t care about them’

‘Anyway, take it easy’, I cautioned. ‘I understand your frustration but if you love your woman, you can’t simply walk away because of the demands of tradition, no matter how expensive they are. ‘And how does Ngozi feel about this whole matter’? I enquired

‘She feels sad but there is really nothing she can do. Anyway, we may just have to postpone the wedding’ Emeka said.

‘That’s not a good idea, anything can happen, you never know’ I pleaded.

‘But that is not to say that I should pay through my nose because I want to marry’ he replied. ‘You live in this country and you know how hard life here is’.

‘No one is forcing you to marry’ I almost told him, but felt that he wouldn’t find it funny.

‘Well, what more can I say, pray about it’? I finally advised him.

‘Unless my in-laws will be willing to accept credit card for the dowry and other expenses’.

When he said this, I burst out laughing; he joined me in the laughter as well.

Afterwards, I told Emeka what a brilliant idea it was and how it would actually make life easier for brothers and sisters living abroad who are used to the buy-now-pay-later arrangements, if potential in-laws can be made to accept credit cards for dowry and other bridal expenses. But at the same time, I knew that the idea will never fly in Nigeria, why?

Many suitors and potential sons-in-law may end up marrying people’s daughters with fake or stolen credit cards, a situation that may lead to the in-laws sending ‘repo’ men after them to repossess their daughters, as they would normally cars, houses and other items purchased on credit with default payments.

Back to Emeka and Ngozi, they should have been getting married this Christmas (2005), but have since postponed the date indefinitely for economic reasons.

Emeka is not alone though, this issue currently affects many young eligible Igbo men, the women are also not spared because they won’t leave their parents’ homes until they are well into their late 20s and 30s, maybe it is time for our elders to re-visit some of our customs and traditions to see how today’s singletons can be encouraged, and not discouraged from saying I do.

December 21st 2005.


Join the conversation through disqus comments or via our forum. Click on any of the tabs below to select your desired option. Please engage decently.

  • Disqus Comments
  • Facebook
  • Forum Discussion

1 2 3 4 5 6
Re: .Charge The Dowry To Your Credit Card
Soul Sista posted on 12-22-2005, 03:48:18 AM
Sabella, take time oh. Some mischeivous Ngbekes will interprete this your contribution to say that non-Igbo ladies are cheap! And, trust me, you don't want to go there :-). The man loves an Igbo woman, leave him to marry her they way they do in Igboland, abeg. This one that you are recommending other women to him, how far? He has found his special someone.

Uche, but this your friend, be like say e get real problem oh. How e go take marry now? Dem don postpone the wedding, no be so? Do they have a game plan of how soon they can come up with the coins?

I like the idea of a token symbolic amount for bride price because I don't think you can ever pay all that a family has spent on their daughter. Moreover, the woman is not a chattel now, so how far with huge sums of money? I suspect that these huge demands are more a corruption of the culture and a sign of the depressing economic times than tradition. Is it possible for the bride's family to defie the Umunna/nne? What will happen if they do? I cannot imagine waiting indefinately if you have found the right person. What have others done in the same situation?
Re: .Charge The Dowry To Your Credit Card
Nonyellum posted on 12-22-2005, 03:50:10 AM
Sabella you're lost, please do not corrupt our men.

I like for a man to pay dowry on me, and believe me a lot of men like to. This tradition I want them to keep.

I just think there should be a "small" fixed price, because parents are NOT trying to sell their daughters.
Re: .Charge The Dowry To Your Credit Card
Sabella Abidde posted on 12-22-2005, 04:15:41 AM
Soul, no, no I am not saying that our non-Igbo sisters are cheap. Otio, mba, mba, mba that is not what I meant. Only that our Igbo brothers have choice; and choice na good thing. And again, Yoruba and Ijaw and Benin and Edo girls no get too many shakara as per marriage. Life simple. And simple is good. No be so?

Me I be all-rounder Naija man wey get inlaws from all the zones in Nigeria. When it comes to marriage and the lady na Igbo, haba, na wetin happen? You pay for this and that and that and this and everything in between. No be marriage? Abi the thing pass marriage? Woman for house plus man for house and later them do that thing then bomboy come. Henhenhen. Make them simplify the thing. Simplification is good. No be so?

Look, I get Igbo paddies for Houston, Seattle and Minneapolis wey go home marry the love of their heart: all Igbo girls. Why do "three jobs" just to marry Igbo when you can do just "two jobs" to marry Yoruba, Fulani or Calabarian. Two is better than three. No be so?

To date Igbo, na wahala; to be fiance, na wahala; to marry, na wahala. Haba, na wetin? Kuku ma, every naija know say to marry Igbo you must (1) be strong financially and in every sense of the word ; (2) be prayerful; and (3) be very, very, very prayerful and strong. No be so?

There you go...My Sista, tell me: abi you be Igbo?
Re: .Charge The Dowry To Your Credit Card
Sabella Abidde posted on 12-22-2005, 04:34:24 AM spoil Igbo guys? I laugh...I chuckle...I laugh some more. Me spoil Igbo fellows. Haba, na which one you dey? You wanna blame me for other things, too? Otioooo mio lowo ni oro yen.

Did Uche Nworah quote you a figure (dowry plus Church matter plus traditional marriage matter and other small-small things)? I don't know Uche, never met and don't know anyone who knows him and so I don't know his matter. I only dey see his articles and his pictures, plus say him yab me one time.

But as someone with roots in Igboland...with inlaw in Igbo land...with at least 20 Igbo friends all over the world, me, I go tell you: $5-40k depending on your lot in life. If you be one "poor person," it can be "less-painful" and that's assuming say na Naija ya yanch dey.

But if you dey obodo Oyinbo or for UK or weting we dey call AWAY, you pay more; if the woman na well educated woman...hahahahahaha you pay much more. Say, you day yanke and the woman na lawyer or doctor or one of theose higend professions, chei, chei need more than visa or mastercard.

Haven said all that, me na Igbo woman I go marry once I find the one wey no be Nurse or born-again. You think say I no like good and better things?
Re: .Charge The Dowry To Your Credit Card
Anike posted on 12-22-2005, 04:37:40 AM
It is time we abolish this dowry thing. Look, women are claiming that we live in a modern era; that the world is globalizing, and that we have equal rights and all that; and that whatever a man can do, a woman can do. Ok...I agree and I am not doubting that.
Men! now they'll agree just to skip dowry. I say equal rights begins after the marriage. Why am I not ibo?
Re: .Charge The Dowry To Your Credit Card
Sabella Abidde posted on 12-22-2005, 05:15:03 AM
Anike...Oh no, you can't shift the post and change the rules once the game has begun. If you are talking rights and modernization and all that...then no big dowry. Ok, ok, ok, I will do dowry but only as part of the marriage rite (and a very small amount...token).

I am assuming you are "Sisi-Eko" by virtue of your name, so what is a reasonable amount? Ok, make we yarn tomorrow as sleep don dey close my eyes.... o'diaro...oda ro oo
Re: .Charge The Dowry To Your Credit Card
Emj posted on 12-22-2005, 05:27:00 AM
ride on bro, charge the expenses to your credit card. Anyway on a more serious note u can charge it to the Nation's Swiss Account.
Re: .Charge The Dowry To Your Credit Card
Anike posted on 12-22-2005, 06:36:08 AM
Anike...Oh no, you can't shift the post and change the rules once the game has begun.
If not, why not?
If you are talking rights and modernization and all that...then no big dowry. Ok, ok, ok, I will do dowry but only as part of the marriage rite (and a very small amount...token).
Are you marrying a small woman? No! So, why the small dowry?

I am assuming you are \"Sisi-Eko\" by virtue of your name, so what is a reasonable amount?
A reasonable amount, in my book, is all the amount the parents spent on books and school fees, in its entity (no discount), duck by a)50% if you are equally Educated (masters vs masters... b) 25% If less (masters vs School Cert or Form 4 c) 75% if more (masters vs PHD).

Modernization? Arghh!

Re: .Charge The Dowry To Your Credit Card
THE LIGHT posted on 12-22-2005, 08:25:44 AM
I find it ridiculous that in this day and age, people who are enlightened and exposed will subject themselves to the dictates of culture and tradition handed down by ancestors who obviously acted based on the reality of their times.

Laws, i believe were made for man and not the other way round. And only laws handed down to us by God can't be reviewed.

My thinking in this matter is rather than discard culture outright, we could review/adjust them to suit the realities on ground. I know of cases where guys went into terrible financial mess as a result of borrowing to satisfy all kinds of people who claim to be stakeholders in the life of their wives.

As for Ndigbo, i think its high time we stopped imposing unrealistic targets on young men. Several fellows have gone into fraudulent practices all in a bid to meet the high standards in Igbo Land.
Re: .Charge The Dowry To Your Credit Card
Uche Nworah posted on 12-22-2005, 12:51:35 PM
Deep thought, i'm not sure you will like to hear my initial reaction when i heard my own, thank God for my wife's soothing words and encouragements, and God's grace of a discerning spirit. we are where we are today, like they say all's well that ends well, but for sure it is not a journey for the faint hearted.

Odinaka, this one wey you dey ask for specifics, e be like say you sef don dey plan your own, abi the bell don dey toll? make you send my invitation o!

sabella, i know yab you o, i only 'disagreed' with your wife seeking modus.
1 2 3 4 5 6
Please register before you can make new comment