A marriage engagement in the Nigerian culture, is an event that involves the parents, siblings, and other members of the couples family. There has to be an agreement between the two families. More like an acknowledgment that a marriage will be taking place. Much of the decision lies in the court of the bride’s family.
Before getting married, the young couple needs to be engaged. It includes several steps:
- In all the tribes, the groom should first come to the bride’s family to introduce himself and make an official proposal. In such situations he is usually accompanied by his male friends and the men of the family (they are older, as a rule). In many tribes (like Hausa and Igbo), they also carry gifts for the girl’s family. They might be kolanuts, palm wine, alcoholic drinks, chocolates, candies, and so on. This step is called by Hausa “Na gani ina” which means “I like what I see”. Igbo people name it “Iku Aka”.
- Then if her family agrees, the bride and the groom can spend some time together to know each other better. Besides, the bride should also approve the future husband. In particular tribes (like Hausa, for instance) they often keep to the traditions of Islam, so the young couple don’t have many contacts before the official engagement, because they are mostly forbidden. Moreover, during the Yoruba wedding the professional person is hired to control every step (they are women and are called “Alaga ijoko” or masters of the ceremony). She might be a part of the girl’s family or even a stranger.
- Yoruba woman also has to make a kind of proposal. She does it with the help of the letter reading ceremony. Besides, in Yoruba the families give the gifts to each other. It may be rice, sugar, salt, kolanut, and more.
- Dowry ceremony (also known as “Walimah” in Hausa). The money should only be given for the bride. According to Islam, the less is the amount the more blessing the marriage will be.
- Then the parents should arrange everything about the wedding. Thus, the engagement is considered complete.