• UIU-LA Admin

Igbo Relationships PT 1 (Views, Kinship & Marriage Selection)

In the eyes of the Igbo community marriage is not a matter for the man and woman alone; it concerns the close kin of both sides. Marriage arrangements are negotiated between the families of the prospective bride and groom. In other words when you are entering a marriage with an Igbo person you are also marrying their family and vice versa. With regard to the paternity of the wife’s children, they belong to the lineage of the husband. When a woman has children out of wedlock, however, they belong to her natal lineage, and not to that of the children’s father. This fact is very important to know when it comes to future marriages of offspring and who has rights to give them away.


The Igbo Views on Marriage

A significant part of a young Igbo girl’s or a young Igbo man’s childhood training is geared toward their future roles in the family and as useful and responsible citizens. Women are fully involved in matchmaking and usually participate directly or indirectly in the actual negotiations of marital arrangements for their sons or their daughters, in cooperation with the male members of the families concerned. Women have powerful and active behind-the-scene roles in seeking out the girls they would like their sons to marry. The approval of the mother is vital because the young bride is generally expected to live with her mother-in-law and to serve her for the first few months of marriage, until the new couple can set up an independent household and farmland. Mothers always want the absolute best for their children so that is why it is always encouraged to develop a strong relationship with your in-laws.

Kinship

When marrying within the Igbo community one of the very first things to consider is each other’s kinship (bloodline) to make sure that you are not accidentally marrying within your extended family. For people marrying in that are not from the Igbo community this step is almost not relevant. However for those with have parents from different Igbo states this has to be looked into for example (Mother from Imo state and Father from Delta state).




Kin Groups and Descent

Igbo society places strong emphasis on lineage kinship systems, particularly the Patronage (father’s decedents), although some Igbo groups, such as the Ohaffia, have a matrilineal descent system (mother’s decedents), whereas groups like the Afipko Igbo have a double descent system (both sides are considered). In all the Igbo groups, one’s mother’s people remain important throughout one’s life.


Kinship is the relation by the bond of blood, marriage and includes kindred ones. It represents one of the basic social institutions. Kinship is universal and in most societies plays a significant role in the socialisation of individuals and the maintenance of group solidarity. The two types of kinship which exist are related by blood or related by law/marriage. Through kinship there is a transmission of goods, ideas and behavior. Kinship is defined as a sense of being related to a person or people through descent, sharing or marriage. This provides the base for an examination of different styles of partnership, community and reproduction across the globe.


Due to this wives are normally found outside of the village to prevent inter-family marriages taking place, which is why it is common to see dual state marriages. But once they are married the wife and the children will claim their father’s state going forward.


Most common one we see now is when both parties find each other themselves and make the decision to both be together and go and inform their families. However unlike western ways of doing things it is an absolute rule to ask permission from the bride’s family before starting the marriage process.

Marriage Selection

The Igbos have 3 types of selections when it comes to marriage:


1: By Parents before Birth- Typically done by very successful families

Also known as arranged marriage’s which are still common within certain Asian communities, most people today are unaware that traditionally wealthy families within the Igbo Kingdoms would have arranged marriages between their children as a way of maintain wealth and status. Although this type of selection has died down it is still important to be aware of its existence. This type of marriage would have been common during the time of our Great Grand Parents.


2: During Childhood- To marry when both are of marrying age/due

Similar to the above at this stage of selection both families would bring their children together when they are younger to see how they interact with each other, and then would again bring them together once they are of marrying age this time leaving them together for a longer period of time in a room where they can get to know each other more to both decide that they are happy to marry each other. This traditional method was used as a way of securing social status. Families were very selective around whom they would want to be a part of their family. This type of arrangement was common with our Grand Parents and is still done today by wealth families.

3: Man and Woman free to choose each other (Most common form today)

Most common one we see now is when both parties find each other themselves and make the decision to both be together and go and inform their families. However unlike western ways of doing things it is an absolute rule to ask permission from the bride’s family before starting the marriage process.



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