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African Traditional Marriage: Ibu Nmayi

Updated on January 11, 2014

Abiriba traditional Marriage: "Ibu Nmayi"

Before the advent of Christianity and other religions, every tribe has its own way of marriage. In African, the traditional marriage is called “African traditional wedding or Traditional wedding/marriage.” This is to differentiate from white wedding or Church wedding. In Abiriba, a community located in Abia State Nigeria, it is called “Ibu Nmayi.”

In the past, traditional marriage is enough for a man to marry. It can still be said to be valid today in most places in Africa. However, religious belief has made most Nigerian to combine traditional and church/white wedding. This is especially so now that most Africans are embracing the Western religion and culture at the expense of their own cultures and traditions. Therefore, the traditional blessing is not considered enough by some people. Consequently, the church blessing is the ultimate because, as they believe, that is where the true God exist. Moreover, most Africans now belong to one church or another.

“Ibu Nmayi” in Abiriba involves some traditional rites. However, it literally involves a man taking drink to a girl’s family and if the family accepts the drink then they have accepted the man. The man can then pay the bride price. Then the girl and her friends will dance out and welcome the man and other guests- a term called “Ima nzu” which is a symbol of good luck.

In the modern times, some changes have been made. For instance, a special cake is made which symbolizes palm wine. That is the drink the man comes with.

Traditional marriage in Abiriba is a thing of fun and joy. The man’s age mate (peer group) or friends normally ask the bride some questions like how many children she wants in the marriage among others. All these are things of joy and that among others have made traditional marriage in Abiriba to be unique and widely talked about in other parts of Nigeria even across the world.

There is a video glimpse of some women carrying items. That is called “imnyi ife” which involves the man sending some items/properties to the girl and her parents that she will need in his house.

After the traditional wedding, the white/church wedding follows even though the couples are now traditionally married. However, some people may still ignore the church wedding. It all depends on belief and financial capacity of the man. However, the first step is usually the traditional marriage which is called “Ibu Nmayi” in Abiriba the ancient kingdom in Abia state Nigeria.

Ima Nzu in Abiriba
Ima Nzu in Abiriba | Source
Church Reception
Church Reception | Source

The bridal dance with her friends

Dance continues

Traditional marriage cake

The cake plus women carrying properties

Dance after Church wedding


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