Issue of Bride Price in Igbo Culture: A historical Journey into our Past& Present.

"Bride price" is an English rendition of what is now ụgwọ isi nwaanyi which initially wasn't the original term for that Igbo cultural practise. Culture is dynamic

"A naghị ere nwaanyị ere"
This is an Igbo adage stating that a woman cannot be sold.

Let's get to business of discourse.

Ask your grandparents what is called "ịtụ ngọ". In some Igbo culture it's called "ngọ" or "ịgba ngọ" or "ịkwụ ngọ nwaanyị".
It is this culture that was replaced with what we now called bride price which in some cases, cause some of our young people to see marriage as a big task. You must be over materially rich before you get married. The rapid change in the societal value for money makes it so.
Remember in the past, there was nothing like money. Money was alien to us. Although there were methods of exchange for goods and services. Ayọrọ was there. Okpogho was there. These weren't paper money, but cowries and a metal-iron used for exchange of value.
During this traditional rite called ịtụ ngọ, the man about to marry a wife will not be there. Stick or broom will be used for ịtụ ngọ by the ụmụnna of the woman. Each stick or broom represent whatever they demand from the in-law.
It could be cloth or any item which is affordable. It might be cowries depending on what is agreed. It is a symbolism of bond and value of a woman. Deep respect for her worth. Symbol of unity.

This ngọ is for the purpose of the groom to show appreciation to the bride's family.
If tomorrow, the marriage is dissolved through another traditional rite called "ịgba alụkwaghịm" (divorce), the ngọ will be returned so that she will be able to remarry another man; and then, her ụmụnna will be able to do another ịtụ ngọ. It means the bond is broken.
There were processes in Igbo traditional marriage rites that cost just a few thing. From ịjụ ese, ịkụtụ aka and ịtụ ngọ/ịkwụ ngọ. These activities cost palm wine, kola and a few things like food.
In some communities, relatives and friends might contribute to support someone. Marriage rite cost almost nothing.

Bridal families also support the union materially.

During ịtụ ngọ, there is no amount of thing one must bring.
As western civilization came, money was interchanged in form of ịtụ ngọ. Even at that, there was no particular amount one must pay. Anything. The reason is not for the purpose of buying up the woman, but to show appreciation and regard for the woman.
To create something so significant as a bond. It serves as a purpose of bond between the two people getting married.

I know a man who collected N10 naira as ngọ of his daughter. He told his wealthy in-laws that Igbo culture anaghị ere nwaanyị ere. He too is not hungry or poor
But he understands this aspect of culture.

NOTE: Ịtụ ngọ stands for the bond between the man and the woman getting married, not as money the family of the woman will use to feed. The bond can be broken when they eventually get divorced by returning the ngọ.
Be it money, material thing that was given as ngọ nwaanyị will be returned once the marriage is dissolved.

Borrow borrow culture and greediness destroyed this important aspect of our culture. We now give lists, lining up like vehicles in Lagos traffic.
We now decide how much to be given to us. yam, bags of rice, wrapper for all the family, build a house for the bridal family, train her siblings in schools, be feeding the family of the woman, feeding the ụmụnna; list for ndị youth, list for ụmụada, list for ewu na ọkụkọ.
It should be noted that this greediness is not Igbo culture but families. We should draw the difference. Some families are just wicked and would like to frustrate their in-laws cos of quest for money. They are culturally ignorant. But those who really understand are different.
The dynamism of this aspect of culture re-changed its name to suit a borrowed tag "bride price", now called "ịkwụ ụgwọ isi nwaanyị".

When a slight misunderstanding ensued in a marriage, the some men roar:

"I used my money to marry you.
Lee nwaanyị m kwụrụ ụgwọ isi ya. See a woman I paid her bride price".

Because of this dynamism you will see a lot of bachelors in Igbo land today waiting to make it big before they get married. You see the married ones struggling to live up to unncessary expectations.
There was no list upon list in our culture. All this nonsense and exhobitant bride price came as a result of greed of some people, especially after the war. Just as our adage says: "ihe ọjọọ gbaa afọ ọ bụrụ omenala". When evil persists, it becomes a culture.
I was confused last time I attended a traditional marriage ceremony in my village. Things have changed. I asked one of the elders why such drastic change. He said, when they travel to another place to marry, they would be given high price of things. Lists. Bride price.
They now saw they were dashing our women out; therefore they readjusted to compete with others. Imagine. It is now like a competition.

I know a man in my village who told his ụmụnna not to bring such greediness to her daughter's day. None of them train her for him.
He urged his in-law to do what he could. He shouldn't go more than his strength.

Culturally informed men who understand this aspect of our ways of life don't fix high rate of price. A naghị ere nwaanyị ere.
They will collect something as ịgba ngọ since money can now replace other things in the past.

Nowadays, some greedy parents now keep their daughters for the highest bidder. Bride price is now poverty alleviation program.
Once a man finished spending, some begin to maltreat their wives after considering how much they have spent.

We need to change this and stop hiding such greediness in the name of "it is the culture and tradition of our land". You and I are the culture.
You and I are the tradition. There is no culture or tradition without a people. things have fallen apart.

The outrageous list should be kicked against. It is very bad.

Bride price bụ okwu Bekee. English word, not Igbo.

Since dynamism is here, can we go back?

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then there is no need going to do your Trad in Igbo land. Elders agaghị ahapụ omenala mewe omenelu.

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