Now this is where the fear of marrying an Igbo person comes from especially for those who are outside of the community. In terms of what it takes to take a bride from any of the eastern states in Nigeria, it is said to not be a walk in the park. The Igbo tribe take pride in their daughters and don’t hesitate to show any potential suitor how ‘highly rated’ she is. The Igbo bride’s traditional wedding list is probably one of the most discussed topics whenever a man indicates interest in taking an Igbo wife.
The “Bride List” is simply seen as a gift/reward for raising such a beautiful and talented daughter that should be shared amongst those that helped in raising and nurturing her (typically her compound).This list factors in all of the achievements of the Bride such as education, career, progression etc. Items can be negotiated (Top-tip is to have a good negotiator on your side) The list can be modified depending on the family of the bride, i.e. the bride to be can negotiate on behalf of the groom’s family so that the list is trimmed.
Just like every other traditional marriage in Nigeria, The Igbo traditional paying of dowry is very important and the process/lists differ from state to state or clan to clan. It is an obligatory part of completing the Igba Nkwu (traditional marriage) as the items on the list are said to be symbolic, covering different part of the marriage.
EXAMPLE OF A BRIDE LIST
Typical Igbo Traditional List for the Groom also applicable of Mbaise of Imo state.
Section A: UMUADA (All Kindred Daughters)
– Wrappers and Blouses (Nigerian Wax/Hollandis or George)
– Jewellery (Gold plated earrings, necklaces)
– Head ties and Shoes (a pair each, different colours.)
– Hand bags and wrist watches (Different types and colours)
– Toiletries (Body creams, bathing soaps, detergents, etc.)
– Beverages and food items
– Cash gift (not specific)
– Ogwe ego Drinks (Malt & Minerals)
Section B: NMANYA UKWU (Big Wine) UMUNNA (Kinsmen)
The items in this category will be shared amongst the heads of the extended family of the bride to be.
– Bottles of Seamans Schnapps (millennium brand)
– Kola nuts
– Gallons of Palm wine
– Cartons of Beer,
– Malt and Mineral drinks
– Heads of Tobacco with potash
– Rolls of cigarettes
– 1 goat
– Cash gift (not specific) Ego Umuna
NB: Items in Section A&B are usually in 3 pieces or in cartons, cannot be negotiated by the groom’s family except the bride’s family is lenient enough to cut down the items, or the numbers of items to be presented in these sections.
Other cash gifts that may be demanded during the course of the ceremony Ego nfotu iteö
(cash to bring down symbolic cooking pot) – 1,000
– Ncha kishi udu (Toasting of wine) = 1,000
– Ego Ogo cherem (money for the in laws) = 50,000
– Ego maternity (money for future maternity) = 1,000
– Ego Onye Eze (money for village chief) = 1,500
– Ogwe Ego (lump sum) = 5,000
Section C: NMEPE UZO (General list/Opening of Gate)
– 30 tubers of Yam
– 2 bags of Rice
– 2 bags of Salt
– 2 cartons of Star Beer
– 2 cartons of Guinness Stout
– 2 cartons of Maltina
– 6 crates of Minerals
– 3 bottles of Seamans Schnapps (millennium brand)
– 30 bulbs of onions
– 1 gallon of red Palm oil (10 -25 litres)
– 1 gallon of Groundnut oil (25 litres)
– A basin of Okporoko (Stockfish)
– 2 pieces of Goat leg (Ukwu Anu ewu)
– 25 loaves of Bread
– 1 carton of Tin Tomatoes
– 1 carton of Tin Milk
-1 carton of Tablet soap
– 20 Pieces of canned facial powder
-1 gallon of Kerosene
– 20 heads of Tobacco
– 10 packets of cigarettes
– 5 pieces of George/Hollandis/Nigerian Wax
– 3 pieces of Umbrella
– 1 Big Box (Apati)
– 2 Big Basins
– 2 pieces of Igbo Blouse
– 2 pieces of Headties
– Gold necklaces and Wrist watches (minimum of 2 pieces)
– 1 piece of Lantern/LampôIkpo
– Onu Aku Nwayi (Bride price) Non-negotiable, though some families makes it very minimal and almost insignificant. (Reason being that they are not selling their daughter).The things we do for the ones we love.
Ultimately the reason the list is so long is because the bride’s family know that once she is married her commitment is now to her husband and his family. All the kids she will have will automatically belong to him and his family, even when she dies and is buried she is buried in his compound. The list represents all the gifts and support they would have received if she was to stay with them and not get married.