MARRIAGE RITES OF THE MADA PEOPLE OF TABU VILLAGE IN AKWANGA, NASARAWA STATE

MARRIAGE RITES OF THE MADA PEOPLE OF TABU VILLAGE IN AKWANGA, NASARAWA STATE

 



MARRIAGE RITES OF THE MADA PEOPLE OF TABU VILLAGE IN AKWANGA, NASARAWA STATE 


Tabu is a village located in Akwanga, Nasarawa State in North Central Nigeria. There are five types of marriages, which are acceptable traditionally. These are: marriage through parental betrothal, marriage by elopement, marriage by exchange, marriage by inheritance and marriage by force (also known as capture marriage).  


Betrothal by Parents

This was the most acceptable form of marriage in Tabu  land. It is initiated by the parents of the intending couple. A newly born female child would have her forehead marked by a man who wishes his son to get married to her. The mark is a sign that the girl is already engaged. He follows this with gifts to the mother of the infant girl. The presents to the parents of the girl continue as a way of showing that the family of the boy have not changed their minds. When the girl is about ten, a formal introduction is then made. 


At about the age of sixteen, bride price is paid. The bride price consists of twelve goats. It is followed by fried termites (begbin), which is garnished with beniseed (be-shishi). There is also beans that have been cooked with large amounts of palm oil. Once these are done, the next thing is to announce the date of handing over of the bride and celebration of the wedding. The event is marked by dances and other cultural performances. Of these performances is the nneginte (raft zither performance)

Preparation is very cumbersome. The groom’s family sends guinea corn (be-kpur) to be used in making wine (mea ler kpan). This is in addition to twelve fowls to be used for the ceremony.

On the day of the traditional dance, the bride and her friends take two pots of wine to the family of the groom. Elders (men and women) from the groom’s family set out to the bride’s home. They spend the day drinking and returning at sunset. The bride and her friends have their bodies (except the face) decorated with white beniseed (be-nja). The two pots of wine they had brought are consumed by the elders who did not travel to the bride’s village. Drinking continues until late remains with her parents for days before her final release. Within these days, the boy pays the bride price, without the necessity of an elaborate wedding ceremony. 


Marriage by Exchange

This involves the exchange of sisters or relations as wives. It excludes the payment of a bride price. There is a remarkable bright side to this form of marriage. It prevents domestic violence or neglect of matrimonial responsibility on the side of the man. Also, a woman married this way cannot be killed by witchcraft except where there is a consensus between her in-laws and her relations. The dark side of this marriage is that where there is a divorce on one side, a bride price from the other end must be paid or the wife must be equally divorced. If one of the women is barren, there is sadness on the other end. 


Marriage by Inheritance

In this, a man marries the wife of an elder brother that dies. Sometimes, a son marries the youngest wife of his father, following the death of the father. However, the woman involved must consent to it. There is no bride price involved. If, however, a woman refuses to marry the relation of a dead husband and eventually goes on to marry someone outside of her in-laws, the new husband must pay a bride price to the family of her late husband. Where the bride price is not paid, any child resulting from the marriage actually belongs to the family of her late husband. 


Forced or Captured Marriage

This type of marriage was responsible for inter-communal conflicts in Mada society. A woman is ambushed and taken by force to become a wife. If she happens to be married, that is when conflict ensues. If, however, she is a girl, the bitterness may not lead to a conflict. If she detests the marriage, she finds an opportunity to escape, eventually. This, however, was often after a child or two. Back home, she will never enjoy the status of a girl. Rather, she will be considered a divorcee, as she has been defiled. 


Except for Forced Marriage and Marriage by Inheritance, which are not celebrated, due to the circumstance surrounding their contraction, the other three involve festive performances. The dance performance is meant to show manhood and valour.  For instance, on the wedding day, two teams of able-bodied men from the bride and groom’s sides gather for a contest. The men from the side of the bride carry whips. The most courageous from the other side crosses over to the other side, as the dance continues. He reaches and seizes the bride, the whips lashing at him while doing so. He is expected not to show any sign of weakness. Neither is he expected to retaliate. After he succeeds in dragging her to his side, the two teams join in a jubilant dance, celebrating the success of the event. She becomes a wife after a test of virginity.

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