Twirly Tuesday: Yoruba Traditional Engagements (Part 2)

Happy Tuesday Twirl Peeps!!! Hope your week is going well so far. Are you excited for part 2 of this post or what?!! If you haven’t read the prequel to this post yet, please read it here so you’re not kept out of the loop! 🙂

As promised, Adepeju Adeyanju aka Peju, (a young Nigerian woman and professional project manager based in Lagos whose most favourite thing in the world to do is attend weddings!), has written this part with extra pics!! Follow her on twitter @Pjobaby. Watch and learn:

“On the day of the traditional engagement, usually a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday; the venue of the event (a hall or under a marquee) is well decorated. Family, friends, guests and of course the couple are looking forward to a happy day. Each family usually pick uniform clothes called “aso-ebi” to distinguish each side, to create a level dress sense and add colour to the event. The “aso-ebi” could range from traditional Yoruba fabric called “aso-oke” as head ties, shawls and caps. It could also be another type of fabric, Damask like fabric as head ties, shawls and caps. The head ties and caps could also be paired with laces. The head tie is called “gele”, the shawl called “ipele” and the cap called “fila”. It is often to see bride’s side adorn particular colour(s) and groom’s side complementary colour(s). Of recent, both sides have been seen wearing same aso-ebi.

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A Groom awaiting his Bride’s arrival

The venue arrangement is split into two with both sides facing each other or a stage. The two sides are for bride’s family and friends; and then groom’s family and friends. Couple’s parents and immediate family members arrive venue early to welcome their guests, other family members arrive and seat accordingly. Traditional drummers or a live band may be playing at the back ground. The anchors of the day are called “alagas”, they are not usually family members but are professionals who anchor traditional engagements. There will be two “alagas”, as spokesperson for each side.

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Bride being escorted in

The spokesperson for bride’s side is called “alaga ijoko” meaning seated spokesperson; while that of the groom’s side is called “alaga iduro” meaning standing spokesperson. Standing spokesperson because he or she is representing the groom’s family to beg for bride’s hand in marriage. Both “alagas” come with their own traditional drummers, voice overs and back-up singers. I will also add that though the event is an official one, the “alagas” make it interesting with their approach of drumming, singing, praises, prayers and coordination. The ceremony begins with the “alaga ijoko” and his or her drummers and back up singers singing praises to God. The groom’s parents, family and friends are asked by the “alaga” to step out of the venue and they are led into the venue by their “alaga” with singing, drumming and dancing.

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Bride’s parents pray for her

The groom’s side dance straight to where the bride’s parents and family are seated and greet them. The men prostrate or squat while the women kneel on both knees chorusing “ekaasan ma, ekaasan sa, ekaasan gbogbo ebi” good afternoon sis, good afternoon madams, good afternoon all family members. The groom’s side hereby go back to their seats. The “alaga ijoko” then recites the opening prayer or calls upon a bride’s family member to do so.

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Groom prays for his bride as bride wears his cap for him well (awwww…)

The “alaga ijoko” now asks the “alaga iduro” what the mission of the groom’s family is in a jovial way and in the same jovial way response is given. For example the “alaga iduro” may say they have come to beg for the hand of a beautiful damsel, who is well mannered, well learned, from a good home. The “alaga ijoko” then responds asking for air fare to bring the bride they are looking for.

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Yoruba couple in traditional aso-oke outfits

Stainless bowls are at centre stage for collecting money from groom’s family. Aside all the engagement items listed, the groom, his family and friends should be at the venue with money to spend freely and impress bride’s family. The “alaga iduro” presents their letter of proposal, which is read by a young lady from bride’s family. The lady who reads the letter is sprayed with money after reading while she dances to drummers singing. The bride’s mother presents the letter of proposal to bride’s father and may dance round with it. The groom’s parents are then given a letter of acceptance by bride’s parents.

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Beautiful Yoruba couple

I also have to add that the ceremony is a happy one for the bride’s mother. It shows she has trained her daughter enough to be good enough for a man to come for her hand in marriage and not end up a single mother or live in lover/mistress. The bride’s mother’s friends and family also share in the joy of the day.

The groom’s parents are likewise happy to see their son marry the right way. It’s time for groom’s entrance, he’s led in by his friends and female family members. Music is sung for him and his convoy to dance in and he dances straight to where the bride’s parents are seated. He and his friends prostrate to greet them, he is prayed for, he sits between bride’s parents to show full acceptance. Money is collected by the “alaga ijoko” from groom and his friends for wealth, health and children. The groom then walks to his parents for prayers and then to the his seat on stage awaiting his bride.

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Beautiful Yoruba Couple

The bride’s entrance is usually more grand than that of the grooms with more music, drumming, dancing and family and friends watching. The bride veiled and is accompanied by female family members and her friends; she dances to where her parents are seated. She kneels to greet them, she is prayed for and that is the most emotional moment for the bride and her mother.

The bride is then led to where groom’s parents are seated where she is unveiled, prayed for and sits between groom’s parents to show acceptance. She is asked to walk or dance majestically to stage to meet her groom waiting.

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Yoruba bride with her in-laws

On stage, her groom prays for her, gives her money. Then she walks to where the engagement items are to pick her favourite item. The favourite item she must pick is the Bible or Quran with the engagement ring on it.

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Well packaged traditional engagement items

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Well packaged traditional engagement items

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Well packaged traditional engagement items (love this!)

The groom gives her the ring, more prayers are said with music interludes and jokes. The other engagement items are used in praying for the couple by the “alagas”. Cake is cut and the bride’s parents hand over the bride to the groom and his parents.

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Couple in Yoruba traditional outfits called aso-oke

The couple can now step down to dance, go round to greet guests. The merry making continues. The outfit of a Yoruba couple is aso-oke gele and ipele for the bride and aso-oke “agbada” big Kaftan for the groom. They can pair it with aso-oke or lace “iro and buba” blouse and wrapper; and lace “buba and sokoto” blouse and trouser accordingly. This ceremony is often called an engagement but it is a Yoruba traditional wedding!”

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Couple cutting traditional engagement cake

So you…yeah, you, thinking of writing a post for Twirly Tuesday, stop thinking and start writing! Send them in to info@thepurpletwirl.com. And to you who has already started writing…finish it up and send to us soon. We appreciate you all for reading and contributing. Thank you. xo

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Twirly Tuesday: Yoruba Traditional Engagements

We have an article today about traditional engagements in Nigeria Twirl peeps!! How exciting! Our writer sent this aaaaall the way from Nigeria, (Abokuma, its an email.lol). Her name is Adepeju Adeyanju (Peju for short), a young Nigerian woman and professional project manager based in Lagos and she loves loves loooooves to attend wedding ceremonies. You can follow her on twitter @Pjobaby. Enjoy Part 1 of her piece:

“Yoruba people are often described as the most flamboyant, party loving and most accommodating people of Nigeria. They are from Southwestern Nigeria and occupy Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara states and some parts of Kogi state. When a man and woman agree to marry in Yorubaland especially if the woman is Yoruba. The groom to be will visit the bride’s parents under informal settings and he will be interrogated to know how serious he will be in marriage, his socio-economic background and details of his family background.

A Groom with his parents (Grooms parents are non Yoruba)

A Groom with his parents (Grooms parents are non Yoruba)

The groom’s parents will also have a chat with the bride to have a clue on who she really is and the type of home she comes from. If both parents have been friends or the courtship have been long enough for both parents to know it all, this step is skipped. Both sides also make background checks on each other from other sources to know the main personality and mental health traits of one another. If the bride’s parents are satisfied with the groom, he is asked to tell his parents to come see them for a formal introduction. The formal introduction is the first official step in getting married in Yorubaland, it is called “mo mi nmo e” meaning let’s get to know each other. It is done in the home of the bride’s parents and done during the day. The groom with his parents, some family members and friends visit the bride’s parents who will be waiting with the bride and other family members. The groom’s side do not go empty handed, they go with fruits, bottles of wine or gin, biscuits and sweets to signify sweetness and fruitfullness.

A Bride with Grooms Parents

A Bride with Grooms Parents

The formal introduction can range from intimate in the sitting room of bride’s parents with just core family members; in an interactive way where all family members introduce themselves. It could also be elaborate under a tent at bride’s family compound; with a moderator; drumming; singing and more elaborate dressing. Either way, family members present are introduced, prayers are offered to the new couple, lunch is served and the atmosphere is jovial. Both parents with the couple discuss type of wedding to hold, wedding dates and other key wedding decisions.

Bride and Groom

Bride and Groom

Bride’s parents give groom’s parents traditional engagement list. The bride’s family also give groom’s family gifts, usually a carton of biscuit to signify acceptance of their visit. To both families, bride and groom are now officially recognised as a couple and their relationship taken with more seriousness and acceptance. Both families can now be called in-laws. Everybody is looking forward to the remaining wedding events and praying for the success.

Cake to be cut at traditional engagement

Cake to be cut at traditional engagement

A typical traditional engagement list in Yorubaland includes these:

* Bride price (a token)

* Token of money for bride’s parents and some other family members

* Tubers of yam (21 or 42)

* Kolanuts (21 or 42)

* Bitter kolanuts (21 or 42)

* Natural honey

* Salt

* Palm oil

* Baskets of fruits

* She-goat

* Sugar

* Bottles of wine or gin

* Crates of soft drinks

* Biscuits and sweets

* Bible or Quran

* Engagement ring

* A leather box containing fabrics, shoes, bags and jewelry for the bride.”

Insightful isn’t it?! How are engagements and/or marriages celebrated in your country or tribe? Keep sending ’em in! Twirly Tuesday posts on any topic of your choice to be featured every Tuesday here on our blog. Kindly send posts to info@thepurpletwirl.com. Come back for part 2 of this article next week which promises to have even more pictures!! We love pics!

Have a blessed week everyone. xo