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Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!!!!!!!

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you! I hope you are surrounded by your dear ones today.:) Here are two of my three Valentines while they were opening their Valentine goodies this morning.:) ( Which were smuggled in in my suitcase after the winter holiday.:) Thank goodness for Target!!!)

I had to go to a small bakery nearby for some pita bread to make pita chips to take to the beach tomorrow ( Tomorrow is a national Holiday of Eid here in Nigeria. It is a Muslim holiday that I will be posting about tomorrow) It was even decorated for the "Day of Love". I had to take a picture of these teas when I was was walking through the market section. You know you are in Africa when you see "Typhoid Tea" and "Anti Malaria Tea"!!!

I was talking to Happiness today and she was telling me that her brother would be getting married in the upcoming months. I thought since today is Valentine's day, what better question to ask than how the marriage process works here in Nigeria. She told me that it is different for many different groups of people in Nigeria, but for her tribe, Akwa Ibom, and other groups in the east of Nigeria, she could explain the process to me.

The whole process is broken down into three steps:
1) The first step is called the "Introduction". This is when both sets of parents ( the bride and groom's parents and families) formally meet. The groom supplies all the drinks and food for the get together and at that time, he also needs to present 10,000 naira to the father of the bride to obtain "The list".
Yes, I was wondering what was on "the list" also. It is a list of requests ( demands) that the bride's family has made for the groom to do before he can marry the bride.
2) The second step is called "The Bargaining". You know that nothing in Nigeria is done without why would a marriage be any different? This stage is when the groom comes back to the bride's family and "bargains" the demands made on the list from the bride's family. In addition, the groom also pays the Father of the bride an "entertainment allowance". I asked Happiness if this amount goes towards the wedding ceremony. She told me "NO!" very emphatically. She said that that money is for her father to do with as he really is for his own entertainment! I started wondering , what in the world was on "the list". She laughed a little and started rattling off the list to me:
1) The Bride price ( what the groom will pay the parents of the bride for the bride) if it is a first daughter, typically the groom will pay about 100,000 naira
2) 2 goats ( for the wedding ceremony)
3) 1 hen
4) 10 tubes (pronounced tubas) of yam
5) 2 bags of salt ( to be given to mother of bride and shared with women from village)
6) 1 basin of pepper ( to be given to mother of bride and shared among the women of the village)
7) honillias ( not sure about the spelling) 3 sets of six yards of Nigerian wax fabric
8) drinks for mother and father of the bride
9) Groom must pay for 10 packs of cigarettes, 1 foot ball ( soccer ball), assorted drinks, and 1500 naria to be split among the boys from Happiness' village
10) Groom must pay for assorted drinks, 5000 naira, hair weaves, and assorted make-up for the girls from Happiness' village
11) Her grandmother receives 10,000 naira and one of the fabrics
12) Brother receives 15,000 naira and a suit made for him and new shoes
13) Her dad receives a walking stick, hat, and chief clothes ( her dad's father was a chief in her village) and a suitcase, and the amount he has paid for her schooling so far
14) Her mom receives one of the fabrics ( typically George) on the day of the wedding, a handbag and shoes
15) Her sisters receive new clothes for the wedding
3) The final stage of the marriage process is the actual wedding ceremony. For this part, neither set of parents pays for the ceremony, it is all paid for by the bride and groom. At this part of the process, the goats are killed and cooked at the reception afterwards. Happiness said they had their ceremony at her father's home( near Victoria Island) and her friends and family all brought food to eat. They just had a big party which Happiness and her husband paid for. She said that since the groom has to pay for so much, there is saying that he won't leave her too quickly after he has spent so much money on her.:)
She also told me that it is tradition to go back to your village and have a ceremony there, but her husband hasn't saved up enough money for that yet. Since her father's father was a chief and her mother was the daughter of a chief, Happiness is considered a princess in her village near Eket. ( I am really not kidding...who knew we had real princess in our home?) I do have to say, though, that there are many village chiefs in Nigeria and many people who are of some "royalty" from their individual villages. So, if she has that ceremony while I am here...I would really love to go...of course I would have to bring security.:)
So, there you have eastern Nigerian wedding (Christian)ceremony. I have to say, it is very much different than anything I have ever seen, experienced or even heard of....but isn't that what makes life so exciting? Meeting new people and experiencing their different cultures is what puts spice into life. When I told her that my dad paid for my wedding...I think her jaw dropped on the floor. That concept was so foreign to her. Today was just another day that I was able to take a look into another facet of the vast culture that makes up Nigeria.:)

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