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Essay: MARRIAGE CEREMONY AMONG YORUBA by : 10:59 pm On May 7, 2018

A foreign magazine has requested articles on some traditional ceremonies of your people. Write your contribution describing any one ceremony such as marriage, funeral or child-naming.


The Yoruba people live in the South Western part of Nigeria. They number about thirty million people. The Yoruba people are very ceremonious indeed, they celebrate every event from birth to grave. They are very lively and homogeneous. This write-up will focus on marriage ceremony among  the Yoruba people.

Marriage is one of the important ceremonies in Yoruba. The people are traditionally polygamous in nature, except few of the educated elite who practice monogamy. Marriage ceremony itself can be divided into three stages. There are the pre-ceremony stage, the introduction and the actual marriage ceremony. Even those who ignore traditional marriage cannot but undergo certain traditional steps before  their marriage can be complete.

The first step is when a young man sees a lady of his choice. Then he informs his own father who will in turn contact a respectable member of the lady’s family to break the news. This is behind the stage action as the two of them (lovers) cannot face each other  to utter a word. After the contact, if the latter’s family agrees, then the  two will now see and talk to each other for the first  time. At this stage the family of the boy will bring a palm wine with three heads of kola nut to the lady’s family. Their acceptance of this gift is an indication that the girl has agreed to marry the boy. Regularly, the family of the boy goes to help the lady’s family to farm.

After some years, then comes the introduction. The introduction to the world-be spouse in itself is a great ceremony when the family of the man comes with a large number of people to that of the lady. They will bring with them a lot of things which are traditionally symbolic. These include yam tubers, salt, fruits, palm oil, alligator peper, kolanut and so on. The most symbolic of the gifts are kolanuts which pushes evil away, alligator pepper which has hundreds of seeds that symbolize fertility for the wife. The family members of the man are introduced first while those of the lady follow. The family of the bride prepares a special delicacy – pounded yam with ‘bush meat to feed their guests. Here the lady follow. The family of the bride prepares a special delicacy – pounded yam with ‘bush meat’ t o feed their guests. Here the lady is formally asked whether she will marry the man thrice. If she says ‘yes’ the whole family of the groom, irrespective of the age, will p*******e flat on the ground thrice. This is an indication that they begged the parents before she would be tempted to come out of her house and the special age grade grip her and in the night, the bride may not be aware, she would be tempted to come out of her house and the special age grade rip her and carry her up in the sky. If she does  not struggle with them, they allow her to walk on her own  till she reaches the husband’s house but if she proves recalcitrant, they punish  her severely before they get to her  husband’s house. The following morning a large number of housewives from the bride’s family will bring her personal effects for the ceremony the new wife is to enjoy seven days of grace, during which she cannot do anything by custom. They bathe her and feed her as well. The bride dances while the groom too dances. It is daily  affair.

On the third day of marriage ceremony, the groom sleeps with the bride for the first time. If the bride is a virgin, some cotton wool is used to soak the blood of virginity and sent to the family of the bride. Virginity is a precondition to honoring father and mother-in-law in the olden days. A lot of gifts are sent to show that the parents kept their daughter intact; but if not a virgin, disgraceful gifts such as half-filled keg of palm wine, half-filled match box are sent to the bride’s family, a symbol of being overused before giving them. On the seventh day the bride dances with a large number of admirers from her husband’s house to her father’s house.

Another feast is made by her parents to entertain the large crowd that follow her. This is supposed to be her last journey to the father’s house. This time she carries all her personal effects and other valuables back to her husband’s place at night while going back. It is customary that on her return she should never meet her husband at home. It is an age-long  tradition which has no rational explanation.

In conclusion,  traditional ceremony, if well handled, is by far more interesting than the modern wedding which is aligned to us as Africans. In Yoruba land, a women does this once in her life time, whereas the man can do it as many times as he can afford, as polygamy is the order of the day in traditional Yoruba society.


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