In Owukpa district of Ogbadibo local government area, a traditional marriage ceremony begins once both the groom and the bride’s families are seated. Despite being a traditional ceremony, the Owukpa people are predominantly Christians, so the ceremony is kicked off with an opening Christian prayer.
The prayer is usually followed by a speech from the bride’s family, which sees their spokesperson welcome the groom’s family and express their joy and happiness at both families becoming in-laws. This welcome address is usually a short one and normally ends with the bride’s family hoping that their new in-laws will enjoy the hospitality laid out for them.
Kola nut means life
The groom’s family usually respond to the welcome address from the bride’s family by presenting a bowl full of kola nuts to the bride’s father, bride’s mother, the women of the bride’s clan, the eldest man of the bride’s clan and the youth of the clan. This kola nut presentation also sees the groom’s family adding a wad of cash on the bowl. A few of the kola nuts are split into their constituent lobes are passed round on a plate for guests to pick a lobe.
It's not a sale but let's talk price
The next step is the bride price and with the bride price there is a bit of haggling. The bride’s family will propose an amount and the groom’s family will ask that they be allowed to pay a much lower amount. The process of stating a bride price amount and receiving a counteroffer from the groom’s family usually goes until a third counteroffer is received.
At this stage, a small group of about 6 people are selected from both families to go into an inner room and agree the final bride price. This small group people usually dialogue for 10 to 20 minutes before returning with an agreed bride price, though this agreed amount is subject to the approval of the bride’s father, who the veto power to accept or reject the agreed amount.
The bride’s father usually states his acceptance of this agreed amount after being given an update by the leader of the small group. It is extremely rare for an agreed bride price amount to be rejected by the bride’s father.
Upon hearing the confirmation from the bride’s father that he is happy with the agreed bride price, the groom’s family usually confer amongst themselves for a brief period before the marriage go-between person presents part of the agreed bride price, as it is customary not to pay the amount in full to signify that the bride was not sold.
With the bride price all done and dusted, the marriage party and merriment then begin with the serving of food and alcohol to all present.
it is customary not to pay the bride price amount in full as this signifies that the bride was not sold