By C. E. Oyibo
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, 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:
The guidelines now follow. The currency (₦) is the Nigerian Naira.
1.0 Reception by Bride’s Family and Reciprocation by Groom’s Family (Udede v’Uyere r’Egware)
The reception consists of welcome remarks by the Otota (designated speaker) of the bride’s family, introductions of members of both families and guests, and the presentation and acceptance of kolanuts and drinks.
Following the reception by the bride’s family, the groom’s family reciprocates with the following:
2.0 Presentation of Mission or Intent
3.0 Fees Associated with Presentation of the Bride, Acceptance of the Marriage Proposal, and Formalizing the Nuptials
4.0 Settlement and Payment of the Bride Price and Other Nuptial Fees
4.0.1 The Bride Price
4.0.2 Fees Accruing to the Bride’s Father (Ose r’ Ovwa)
4.0.3 Fees Accruing to the Bride’s Mother (Oni r’ Ovwa)
4.0.4 Fees Accruing to the Bride (Ovwa)
4.0.5 Other Fees
5.0 Wedding Dinner and Other Festivities
 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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