Aku Marriage Guidelines
Marriage practices are a reflection of culture which defines a society or community. Culture itself is a subject of reformation, and Aku community is not only a reformed community but also a reform-minded community that is positively responding to the changing needs of the society. In this article, Mr. Aruma M.O., a retired school administrator and former Secretary of the Aku General Assembly (AGA), chronicled the reforms that attended marriage practices in Aku leading to a properly articulated guideline. Published in The Platform, Vol. 1 No. 1, 2005, a development-oriented magazine of Club 13, Aku, Igbo-Etiti LGA of Enugu State, pages 26-27, the article articulates “Aku marriage guidelines” which provide the reader with necessary roadmap to travel through the Aku marriage system. See details in the link that follows.
AKU MARRIAGE GUIDELINES
By Aruma, M.O.
Former Secretary General, Aku General Assembly
As dynamism is to culture of a place so it is to the marriage system in that place. There have been a persistent public out-cry in Aku for the past decades over the violation of by-laws enacted on marriage system in town. This public outcry and deaf-ear paid to it had negative impact in the social lives of the town; hence many of our sons decamped and started marrying outside the town. Sets of committees were set up previously to look into this problem but each time their findings and recommendations were met with deaf-ears too and consequently short-lived. As a result of recent happenings and more public outcry in Aku against the observed
cost and great expenditure incurred in marriage, rampage violation of by-laws, chaotic situation in marriage anti-social ills emanating from all these defects, in-stability and un-viability of some marriages, the Aku General Assembly, (A.G.A), set up a committee to review the situation and come up with blueprints to narrow and streamline matters in the interest of peace, social harmony, cordial interactions and cordial relationship in the town.
The committee met early last year, reviewed the previous by-laws enacted on marriage, tracing it back to pre-war days and deliberated on the causes of violation of such laws after few years. They observed that many factors were responsible for these violations and failures. The following factors were observed by the committee to be the causes of the violations:
- The importance attached to the material wealth of the bridegroom rather than the love for each other and the mutual bond of the families concerned,
- Some young men usually like to puff and display wealth by way of showing off,
- Some of our children like to imitate outsiders who display their wealth.
- The “who are you, you petty-men to challenge me and my wealth”
attitude of the big guys (Aristocrat) .
- Lack of enforcement of such by laws when enacted.
All these to mention but a few are the cankerworms that eat deep into the fabrics of the by-laws used to be enacted.
After series of interviews with elders of both sexes in Aku to ascertain their views, the committee came up with these guidelines and recommendations:
- That bride price and all the accompanying preliminaries shall be the same for every class of marriage contracted between Aku indigenes,
- The man will carry the following sets of wine to the intending wife’s parents:
- “Manya Oju Eshe” is a jar of palm wine and a carton of beer (Star or Life beer),
- Father’s Wine: A jar of palm wine and two cartons of beer,
- Wine for “Umunna”: Three jars of good palm wine and three cartons of beer,
- Mother’s Wine: Two cartons of beer and a jar of palm wine,
- Grand mother’s wine: A carton of beer and a jar of palm wine,
- A relation of the girl’s mother will have a carton of beer and a jar of palm wine.
- The number of people carrying wine to the intending girl’s place should not be more than four people, bearing in mind that they are only entitled to a bottle of beer from each carton and a cup of palm wine from each jar.
- During the time of bride price payment, the following laws hold, irrespective of the class of girl:
- Bride price is five thousand, (N5,000.00) naira only,
- Father’s relations will be given two hundred, (N200.00) naira,
- Witnesses will be given one hundred, (N I 00.00) naira,
- Money for container (Ego Otondo) one naira, (N 1.00).
- The mother’s relation will be given one hundred, (N I 00.00) naira.
- A jar of palm wine will accompany all these money that day and it will be carried to the girl’s place.
- “Ije Di”: During the first official visit of the girl to her husband’s place, the following laws hold:
The visit should be done during the day.
One married woman who comes from the husband’s place should join two girls in escorting the girl to her new matrimonial home. The two girls escorting the newly married girl to her new matrimonial home should be given two hundred (N200.00) naira. They should not sweep anybody’s compound as they usually do before, since embargo is placed on such sweeping. All ceremonies of Ije-di including music display and dancing should stop by 6.00p.m.
On the following morning, the girl should go back home with the following items: One hind leg of a pig, a neck of a pig which is termed as the remaining meat she ate, five big tubers of yams, a carton of beer and one thousand, (N 1,000.00), naira only which is part of the money realized from dancing with the husband. All gifts of cloths, pots, plates, etc. by the parents during this occasion are abolished. All such gifts should be done during wedding and no more duplication.
- Usoro Ego: Every good son-in law should regard his in-law’s home as his second home. What an in-law does to the parent-in law should depend on the resources and goodwill of such son-in-law, since it is a custom that prolongs and promotes the bond of relationship in marriage system, son-in-law should remember parent-in-law during Christmas, Easter and other feasts of the year.
- Parents-in-law may refer their sons-in-law to relations or friends they may like him to know. There should be no hard and fast rule about such references, for it is not imperative. Such references should be left to the discretion of their son-in-law who will determine the future relationship of the people and himself. No person should therefore withdraw his daughter from her husband for failure to honour such references.
- Omugo: As child bearing in any marriage is a blessing to the family, what an in-law does to the parents-in-law during child bearing cannot be measured.
This should be done with all amounts of joy and happiness, depending on how well-off the son-in-law is. Thanksgiving to God could be done since it is a joy and glory to get a child.
Hence there is no measurement on this.
- Burial Ceremony: During burial ceremony, the eldest surviving daughter of the deceased parent should present a big goat or its equivalent (not cow) at the burial ceremony of either of the parents. Other daughters should present each an envelope between one thousand five hundred (Nl,500.00) naira down the line. The flat rate of “Okpurukpu” is fifty (N50.00) naira.
Parents-in-law who have given out their daughter should only offer kola nuts and Okpurukpu to those marrying their daughter, and not goat, during bereavement.
Fine: A fine of three thousand (N3,000.00) naira only and a carton of beer will be imposed on any defaulter or violation which involves the two parties i.e. the giver and the receiver.
Enforcement: Reports of violation should be logged with the offenders elder or onyishi of the appropriate Umunna and any leader or onyishi who failed to report should face a fine of one thousand (N 1, 000.00) naira if he is found guilty.
All these are not binding on non indigenes coming to Aku to marry and any Aku indigene going outside Aku to marry. All these are the recent marriage guidelines now in force at Aku and with hope that these guidelines will not face violation like others.