The important part of the marriage process is the bride price and it is universally accepted to strengthen marriage.
According to research, bride price differs from tribes and depends on the tradition and customs of each family.
Some persons believe it is a way to strengthen marriages while others simply believe it is a way of selling the female child cheaply.
Whatever the case may be, it is expected that both families take the right steps and decisions while their families are proposing marriage. Some of the areas examined in this write up are the Yorubas, the Hausas, the Igbos, the Deltans and Edos and the Akwa-iboms.
In the western part of Nigeria, bride price is low. In Ondo state, it is revealed that cowries are used as bride price but today, some families collect N25 while some collect the sum of N500 depending on customs. A visit to Igboora in Oyo state recently revealed that bride price in Yoruba land is very cheap.
According to Mrs Olufunmi Oriade, certain items including a cow, a bag of rice, a keg of palm wine, vegetable oil are added to the bride price list because it is important for the groom to share in the responsibility of feeding the wedding guests.
In Yoruba land, bride price include Bible, box/suitcase of clothes, umbrella, palm oil, engagement ring, yams, vegetable oil, alligator pepper, kolanut, fruits, rice, maize, sugar cane, salt, soft drinks, traditional clothes, honey, she-goat.
Cash for the traditional marriage she said include bride price N5,000. Other cash gift is N10,000. These monies are shared into categories which include children, kinsmen, unveiling the bride’s list among others.
For the Hausas , bride price could be higher, depending on the wealth of the families. After agreeing on the bride price, the next stage is samara which is fixing a date for the wedding ceremony.
The price starts from the minimum amount called “Rubu Dinar” in Hausa, an Arabic phrase translated as “quarter kilogram of gold piece” to the highest amount the man can afford to pay. The preference is for the bride price to be low as possible because Islamic teaching teaches that less amount paid as bride dowry price produces the most blessed marriage.
In Delta state, the bride price is also not expensive. It varies from families to families and villages to villages. For instance, in Abraka (Urhobo) the bride price is N120.00 while at Ebhosa (Ishyan) in Edo, it is N60. Other prices list include bag of salt, palm oil vegetable oil, cartons of wine ,crates of malt, bible, umbrella, bottles of soft drinks tubers of yam, cartons of beer, plates of kolanuts, box of clothes, jars of palm wine, N1,500 cash for dowry, N5,000 cash for bride’s mother, N3,000 for bride’s father, N9000 for men in bride’s lineage, N6,000 for the women in bride’s family
It is a well known fact that bride price is the highest in the eastern part of Nigeria. Bride price differs from state to state, village to village and families to families. If the prospective in-law is wealthy, some families might take advantage of that fact and inflate the bride price. In the past it used to be expensive but it is now affordble.
The list of items are shared into four sections which include the Umuada (the kindred’s daughters), the Umunna(the kinsmen) the ikutu aka/nmepe uzo (knocking on the door/opening the gate and the general cash gifts which all runs into hundreds of thousands.
Some believe that due to the high bride price, some igbo daughters are more mature than others.
According to Mrs Chinyere Chukwu, some igbo men spend years saving up money for marriage due to the huge amount that has to come out of their pockets. “most bachelors are nervous about what is in the igbo traditional marriage bride list” Parental discipline gone overboard.
According to her, the bride price list is in four stages, the first being the gifts for the daughter which include wrappers (George or Abada such as Hollandis, ABC, Nigerian wax), igbo styled lace blouses, igbo ichafu-scarfs, shoes and bags, jewelry (wrist watches, earrings, necklace, and rings toiletries (bath soaps, body cream, washing detergents, perfumes etc) beverages, drinks and a lump sum of cash gift.
Others include gifts for the kinsmen, which include kolanuts, palm wine, bottles of drinks, cartons of assorted drinks, tobacco snuff, goat, sum of cash. The third category is known as general gifts which is known as ‘to open door’. Here, the bride price is negotiable but other items include cartons of malt, cartons of beer, crates of soft drinks, tubers of yam, bags of rice, onions, bags of salt, stock fish, meat, groundnut oil and palm oil, etc while the last set is the cash gift.
Bride price removes shame and insult from then woman since she is legally married.