Efik is a tribe from Calabar, Cross River State in Southern Nigeria and weddings are a big deal among them. In fact, it is seen as a celebration of the entire community. Efik weddings are not only occasions to join two lovebirds together in matrimony but also an opportunity to showcase their rich cultural heritage, traditions and customs.
Every true Nigerian knows about our rich cultural heritage. With over 250 ethnic groups, Nigeria is one of the most diverse nations in the world in terms of ethnicity. Weddings play a significant role in our society and they are usually occasions to display our diverse culture.
Although most Nigerians have tilted to adopting parts of the Western culture in marriage ceremonies, the traditional wedding is the first and usually one of the most important parts of a wedding.
So, if you are dating an Efik person and you intend to get married to them, you should pay rapt attention to these interesting facts about Efik weddings:
1. The Marriage Proposal
The marriage proposal in Efik weddings is also known as the “mbup ndo.” It is usually undertaken by the parents of the couple because it is believed that marriage is a union of both families involved. It begins with the groom’s family searching for a suitable bride for him to marry.
Factors like her character and family background are taken into consideration during this selection process. After finding a suitable maiden for him, the groom is informed and advised not to turn her down because she meets the approval of his family.
On the other hand, if the man in question finds a girl of his choice first, he has to inform his parents immediately. Once he does, they carry out a secret enquiry about her; her family, her character and so on just to ensure she is a suitable fit for their son. Once they are satisfied, they go ahead with the marriage plans.
2. Delay in Response
Another interesting fact about Efik weddings is that the bride’s family never responds to the first letter sent by the man’s family. In most cases, they reply after a third letter is sent. According to tradition, the reason for this is to determine the willingness of the latter to marry the girl. It also gives them ample time to also carry out secret investigations on the man as earlier done by the family of the man. It equally shows that the woman isn’t cheap and as such her family is not desperate to respond to their intention to marry.
3. The Old ‘Fattening Room’ Tradition
Six months before their wedding, Efik maidens are secluded for training and sent into a separate room called the ‘Fattening Room.’ In this room, they are fed with the best of meals and excessively pampered.
They do this because it is believed in their tribe, a woman who has a full figure with a healthy waistline is more desirable to be looked upon. They are also massaged three times every day from head to toe as such is believed to make them more endowed. The older married women also teach them about womanhood by exclusively intimating them on how to take care of their home, their husbands and their children.
This tradition has, however, been modernized due to the advancement of civilization.
4. The Involvement of Both families
As stated earlier, Efik weddings involves both families. The families of the couple play a very vital role in the proceedings of the wedding ceremony. The family of the man is expected to look for a bride for him and he is often obliged not to say no. In the case that he does, she still has to be assessed secretly by them. Once they accept her, the family begins the marriage proceedings by sending a letter to the girl’s family.
The girl’s family on the other hand is equally also involved. They screen the man in question secretly as was done for their daughter. It is very important to note that once her family has accepted the proposal of the man, her counsel is sought. She is bound to accept as the process of seeking her consent is only a formal way of informing her.
Since the Efik people take their traditions very seriously, it only means that they honor those who laid down these traditions — their ancestors. Before any marriage ceremony begins, their deities and ancestors are invited by pouring a drink on the floor. In doing this, they believe the dead are being fed because it is their belief that the living is protected and guided by the dead.
6. Distinct Wedding dressing
Efik brides are always outstanding in their attires. They either wear the Ofong Ukod Anwang — a fancy attire which includes a knee-length skirt, blouse ( that covers only the bust) and a fancy body made out of beads or, they wear the Onyonyo — a big long flowing gown. They also adored their hands and legs with gears known as the Ekpa ku kwa, while adorning their necks with coral beads and holding a decorated staff.
Efik grooms aren’t left out. While they wear a white shirt, they tie beautifully patterned wrappers known as the Usobo to match. They then wear a beaded jacket, beaded shoes, a top hat and hand the Okpomkpomon (a long piece of cloth) around their necks.
When it comes to drinks, Efik people don’t play. The groom is expected to bring drinks for nearly everything. These drinks are offered at the end of the traditional marriage to show appreciation. They include:
- Drinks for expressing intentions ‘MMIN UKOP IKO.’ They usually include 1 bottle of brandy, 3 bottles of Star, 2 bottles of big stout, 4 Guinness malt and 2 bottles of soft drinks.
- Drinks for the introduction also known as ‘MMIN MBUB.’ It includes 1 big bottle of 1501, 1 bottle of dry gin, 6 bottles of Star, 2 bottles of red wine, 6 bottles of big stout and any quantity of soft drinks with 30,000 Naira cash.
- Drinks for knocking on the door known as ‘MMIN UKONG USUNG’: 1 bottle of Brigadier brandy, 1 bottle of Star and 2 bottles of soft drinks.
- Drinks for prayers also known as the MMIN AKAM: 1 bottle of dry gin, 2 bottles of Star and soft drinks
- Drinks for appreciation, MMIN EKOM: 1 bottle of St Remy, 1 bottle of dry gin, 1 bottle of brandy, 2 bottles of red wine, 6 bottles of Star, 4 bottles of Gulder and stout, soft drinks and 10,000 Naira cash.
8. Response to Pregnant Brides
Another interesting thing about the Efik is that they frown heavily at pre-marital sex and pregnancy. If a bride gets pregnant before the wedding, a fine is imposed on the groom. This fine for engaging in premarital sex is usually a goat and some drinks. This fine is known as ‘ebot usong enyin’ as it helps to check against fornication. This fine, however, is only to be paid by the man and not the woman.
9.Money Given To The Bride
Another notable fact about Efik weddings is that a bride who has lost her virginity is offered money. This money comes in different denominations and is said to be given to her to stop her from lusting after other men. This money is known as ‘Ukpam Anwa.’
If the bride is a virgin, she is given money known as the ‘ Okpono Ndidi.’ In this case, weaved raffia is tied around her waist to show her purity. The groom then pays money to cut that raffia, symbolizing that he is the one who would take her virginity.
10. The Bride Receives Her Dowry
In Efik weddings, the dowry is given to the bride. It is believed that she should use the money to start a business in her husband’s house and not become a liability to him in marriage.
Which of these facts about Efik weddings do you find most interesting? Kindly share in the comments.
You may also like Praise & Dayo’s Colorful Yoruba Wedding. Bookmark www.naijacupidweddings.com for more interesting content on Nigerian weddings.