By Ikenga Ezenwegbu
Dear Future Son-in-law,
Before you firm up your decision to marry my daughter, I need to declose for your enlightenment, the tradition of my people from time immemorial as it concerns marriage which would not even change with modifications to meet modernity.
Payment of bride price and fulfilment of all traditional rites and those of the new religion (in the church or mosque) are just for you to have my daughter to live with you, warm your bed, keep you company and have children from you.
My daughter’s nativity or membership of Anayo Nwosu, Ezeonwaneti, Ezenwegbu and Ezeoguine family is intact. Her marriage to you is like a permanent residency not a citizenship of your kindred but your children sired by her are yours. Hers is like Igbo’s status in your Nigeria.
Until recently, no Nnewi woman bore her husband’s surname but the name of their fathers, villages or town. My mum was called Nwanyị Nnewichi; she was from Nnewichi village in Nnewi but married my father who was from Otolo. My uncle’s wife who hailed from Calabar was called Nnanyi Mmọnwụ. Igbos call people from old Cross Rivers state Ndị Mmọnwụ.
My daughter knows that she is your wife not your blood relation. She will strive to make you happy so that she will be happy. She will work for your prosperity, for her security and economic well being of her children.
Nnewi people don’t believe that Oyibo’s philosophy that marriage is indissolube. It’s dissoluble in Nnewi. So, bring home my daughter if you feel you cannot put up with her again.
You’re not to beat my daughter while standing up. Beat her thoroughly only when both of you are naked; she would even be begging you to k**l her. That kind of fight would give me more grandchildren.
Nnewi people would gladly return the bride price you paid on head of our daughter at anytime hence you don’t need to k**l her. Just bring a keg of palm wine with a leaf of ube tree tucked into the wine container. You don’t need to say anything, the drink with ube leaf will do the talking. Once this presented, the divorce proceedings have commenced, ending with refund of bride price. You don’t need to go to court. It is our tradition.
If you beat my daughter, you have beaten the ụmụnwoke nile kwụ amụ or all the able-bodied men in her father’s extended family. They will arrange a deterrent or corrective beating for you. And you would be taken unawares. You shall be beaten because you have abused the terms of your leasehold. You don’t own your wife. She is not yours. She belongs to me and her kindred.
Note that when my daughter dies, you have the option of returning her corpse to my kinsmen for burial or to bury in your house in your home town not just anywhere. Either option has its costs and responsibilities.
If you choose to bury my daughter in your place, you must arrange for my kinsmen to come remove her spirit from your family via Ibu Ozu Nwada rite otherwise her spirit will not leave your kindred which could be tormenting to you. Her spirit must return to rest with her kinsmen.
Be assured that I have raised my daughter to the best of my abilities and have infused in her the best of Nnewi traits. She believes in hardwork and she will push you to succeed even against your wish or limits. She will help you cut down wastes.
She wouldn’t allow a lazy relation to build survival nest in your home.
Once you marry my daughter, you would be welcome into a shared destiny relationship with me and her brothers. We shall break a bank to support you and your endeavours to ensure that you can fly if you have wings. We are not a pest to our inlaws but a host.
If you believe that a marital relationship is a walk on a path leading to a stream not that to the forest, you are the one to marry my daughter. This is because Nnewi people believe that akpụ ọhụ anyị na ndị ọgọ anyị bụ nkụtụkọ nkụtụtọ meaning that the relationship between them and their inlaws is supposed to be enjoyable.
See you soon.