IGBO FAMILIES PROVIDE SUPPORT FOR NEWLY MARRIED COUPLESMay 24, 2023 10:00AM ● By Okechukwu Nzeribe
Traditional Igbo wedding dance-off. Source: Wikimedia Commons
One of the remarkable things about the socio-cultural life of the Igbo ethnic group is their ability to provide communal support to each other, especially in times of great need. The popular phrase amongst ndigbo is “onye aghala nwanne ya” which emphasizes the importance of being “your brother’s keeper” in all circumstances.
This commitment is evident in the way Igbos support themselves during time of struggle and success; It is evident in the tradition of IDU UNO which is a form of send-forth that is done by the family of an Igbo woman who just got married.
After the Igbo traditional marriage rites have been concluded, the parents of the bride would send their daughter to her new marital home with lots of gift items to help her start off in her new family home. The send-forth could actually come on the day of the traditional marriage event or several days after her family visits the home of their in-laws.
Such gift items include cooking utensils, sewing machines, and boxes of wrappers. Bed sheets, plates, spoons, and other materials they believe would aid her in playing her role as a wife and mother. In families where there is a great amount of wealth, parents also gift cars, and houses to the new couples.
To have these items provided to their departing daughter is a thing of pride for every family and a source of respect for the daughter in the new family. Parents of the bride (if not financially capable enough), spend years saving up the resources to purchase what is required for their daughter. The bride’s mother joyously gives her the items on the day of her marriage or after.
This cultural lifestyle has continued to date and has remained one of the unique ways the Igbo ethnic group offers much-needed support for newly married couples; more so, when you consider that much might have been expended during the traditional marriage ceremony.
The Igbo ethnic group is continually driven by community effort which is targeted at lifting each other up and finding ways to provide comfort for their loved ones or anyone in close relationship with them. This is why there are several support systems embedded into the Igbo socio-cultural lifestyle that has continued to positively impact Igbo society to date.
Beyond Idu Uno, both families of the couple acknowledge the bond that exists between them by the marriage of their children and take measures to strengthen that it for the relative peace in the home and lives of their children. So, it is customary to invite the other family whenever one family is hosting an event.
The Igbo culture is beautiful because it reinforces the assurance that no one will be left behind nor abandoned. Especially as the Igbo culture recognizes the importance of marriage and its impact in shaping society. More importantly, it is said that the early stages of marriage can test the wit and will of every couple and this is why the families rally around to provide marital support in every form to ensure that the marriage weathers the storm.
Okechukwu Nzeribe works with the Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, in Anambra State, Nigeria, and loves unveiling the richness of African cultures.
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