1 Mar 2020

Igbo Tradition (OmeN’ala) And Feminism


First, let me inform whom it may concern, Igbo tradition (OmeN’ala) is not anti-women, rather it protects women. OmeN’ala is the customary law of Igbo people. It is our way of life and it is duly recognised by the Nigerian constitution.

Like every other law, its application depends on its understanding. So, if you understand OmeN’ala, you will realise that there are rights and privileges for everyone (men, women, children). OmeN’ala governs land, death, marriage, etc.

Igbo Traditional Marriage:
Igbo traditional (OmeN’ala) marriage goes further than bride and groom wedding. The marriage is between the bride’s kindred and the groom’s kindred. And the payment of dowry is the consideration given in that marriage as a contract between the 2 kindreds.

Bride price (dowry) is a broad subject that is very much misunderstood. Without the bride price, there is no marriage. And the couple will never have their rights and privileges without dowry.

So, if a feminist who detest dowry, invites guests for her ‘traditional wedding’, hire a hall, put on the most flowing African attire without the presence of her kindred, that will never be a traditional wedding.

Again, if a bride who disagreed with her father, perhaps, because she took the sides of her mother in a bitter divorce, wears the most expensive African attire, without the presence of her father or his representative, the marriage is null and void.

Remember, traditional wedding is a marriage between 2 communities. And it’s the bride’s father that will introduce the groom’s kindred to his/bride’s kindred.

In fact, 90% of the list of items given to the groom for the traditional marriage belongs to the kindred. Even the dowry (60 Naira) is paid to the kindred who will later hand it over to the bride’s father.

And to the feminist who sees the payment of her dowry by the groom as if she is being sold, I suppose you worth as little as 60 Naira. Obviously, the payment of dowry (60 Naira) is symbolic.

However, as a feminist, or a bride who detest her father for whatever reason, instead of embarrassing yourself with your sham traditional wedding, try other types of marriages such as:

Marriage Registry:
This route is very simple. For this type of marriage to be legally binding, the parties must be of age (18 years+, in Nigeria), of sound mind (reasonable). Then, just you and your groom plus 2 witnesses.

Subsequently, you and your husband (assuming you are not the husband and the man your wife) will sign the marriage certificate just as your witnesses will countersign the certificate.

As you can see, no father’s consent, no kindred and no dowry - since you are not for ‘sale’. The marriage certificate will be handed over to you as the woman that married her husband.

Thereafter, as a feminist, I reckon you won’t like your husband to take you home, which is what Igbo traditional marriage is all about.

You will rather take your husband home since you have satisfied the European’s traditional wedding as stated in Ephesians 5:31 - "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."

Dear Feminist, OmeN’ala is our way of life. If you cannot adhere to our customary law - OmeN’ala Igbo, please try another way of life. And don’t try to interfere with our way of life.

By the way, for every feminist Igbo woman who questions Igbo tradition (OmeN’ala), there are millions of others who understand and accept OmeN’ala.