Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hello Everyone, in this entry I’ll be talking about a class of cakes that I make so often and a lot of my friends don't really understand what occasion they are made for: THE NIGERIAN TRADITIONAL WEDDING! 

We all know what part of the world Nigeria is and its repute: good or WORST!  I really hate to dwell on the negativity that the world has come to associate with Nigerians.  Like most peoples, there are some rotten eggs and some "viable" ones, so we’ll only be minding the business here:  Nigerians are a people of truly rich, diversified culture.   Imagine a space of just about 356+ thousand square miles with over 250 languages, #thisiswhatyoucallrich!  There are a number of aspects of culture that run common with most of these small tribes, like "giving in marriage".  With Nigerians, the ultimate marriage ceremony is the church/mosque marriage but each requires parental consent and the TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE is clearly the parental consent these religious ceremonies need.

THE NIGERIAN TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE  is a very rich medium to large sized ceremony where the parents give away their daughter to her groom, fulfilling all traditional rites.  From the early days, it has added so much decorum and color, beyond just paying and receiving DOWRY (a certain cash or kind payment required by the Bride’s family for giving their daughter away in marriage).  Hahaha!  This makes me laugh cos 17 years ago, my parents requested just 116 Nigerian Naira from my husband for my bride price:  Mathematicians, help convert to dollars:  116/150 x 1 US dollar.  Hahahahaha!  It’s less than a dollar, people!  And I’m working overtime hours by now, still bearing children in my 40s.   I hope my husband’s reading this and understands what I mean when I say the dowry’s expired and I need a “second marriage ceremony” in which the bride price will be determined and received by me!

THE CEREMONY:  The Nigerian traditional marriage typically holds in the Bride’s home (living room) at any time of the day.  Generally, the Bride’s family plays host.  They fete the groom and his family in a ceremony filled with so much playful pomp and pageantry.  Well ahead of the event day a family to family introduction would have taken place, where the groom’s family is given a list of items to purchase for the Traditional Marriage ceremony. THE LIST is below for your viewing.

On the day of the ceremony, the family of the groom announces their arrival with drumming, singing and dancing and are met at the gates by the wives in the bride’s family. 
One fun thing about this ceremony is that any group of family members is allowed to obtain cash from the groom and his family.  The groom usually goes prepared and doles out cash like “no man’s business”.  The ceremony starts with the groom's family requesting to  see the bride’s parents and  extended family.  They present the groom to the bride's family all prostrated on the floor with his friends and family. They then request for the bride. 
The bride’s family checks off their bride’s list of items.  They receive the bride price (dowry) and prepare to present the bride.  Some cultures present other girls, dressed and veiled like a bride. The groom is expected to pick his bride.  The families say prayers for the new couple and the real partying begins.  
 There is usually  Lots of foods, drinks and dancing and finally the move. The bride’s belongings are packed up in a car and moved to the groom’s house.
How feasible it is, is usually determined by the new couple. (Did you notice Tosin's Shoes?, Tres Chic!)

THE CAKE:  Sometimes very detailed, usually a showpiece of an aspect of the ceremony:  suitcases, a briefcase of cash, a basket of fruits, a building,  jewelry cases, expensive cars, expensive lace or  George wrappers, jewelry, beads.   Tosin's cake was made to look like 4 folded expensive George wrappers.  The Cakes were Butter and Red Velvet Flavors.
Below is my Traditional wedding 17 years ago showing me dressed in “Bini" traditional bridal beaded velvet and very expensive coral beads. 

Many thanks to the couple here, Mr. and Mrs. Addeh who gave their pictures for the blog, and to Tmaj Photography: I have carefully picked out the following links to help you view pictures of Nigerian traditional weddings, for ideas for planning yours.  Some of these have more pictures on their Face book  pages so you may need to start a Face book page to be able to view them. Please leave a comment to add to or make corrections to the ceremony and the list, the readers and I will appreciate that. Enjoy!
TMAJ Photography
Traditional Weddings (Edo)
Ihuoma's Nigerian-Traditional-wedding pins on Pintrest
Wedding Digest Naija
African Weddings Magazine
Nigerian Weddings


The Nigerian Traditional Wedding Bride's List

Bible/Religious Book
Dowry: amount determined by tribal law and customs
Cash gifts for family members
tubers of XL Yams
Pieces XL smoked fish
Smoked wild catch meats
Pieces Kolanuts
Pieces Alligator Peppers
Pieces Bitter Kola
Basket of assorted fruits
1 jar honey in a crystal decanter
1 large crystal dish of sugar
1 large crystal dish of salt
Kegs or calabashes of Palm wine
Assorted drinks
1 live she-goat
Palm Oil
1 Umbrella
A Sewing Machine
1 Suit Case for the bride, filled with the following:
2 pairs of shoes
2 handbags or clutch purses to match
2 head ties
1 Gold Wrist watch
Traditional Wrappers:  Lace, George, Hollandais Wax Prints, African Prints
Matching blouses for the wrappers
Jewelry, genuine Coral beads
Other clothes: Dresses, Skirts, Pants etc