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The Edo-speaking people of West Africa, especially in Southern Nigeria, have lived where they are now, for THOUSANDS OF YEARS. The beginning of Edo history is lost in antiquity-in a mythical time frame work. Edo history did not begin from the 7th century A.D. People have moved in and out. The Edo people people did not migrate enmass from Sudan, Egypt, Babylon, or Greece. It is doubtful if they even emigrate in waves. Chief Jacob Egharevba in chapter one of his book BINI Titles (1956), quoted his source as P Amaury Talbot, ” According to P.Amaury Talbot in his Book ” The Peoples of Southern Nigeria,” Vol.II Chapter. Paragraph 6 and 7: ” Considerably later, perhaps about the seventh millenium B.C., a furthe wave of Sudanic Peoples began to pour in , first the Edo ( Benin) and EWE (Popo) and then the Ibo, followed may be about the second millennium B.C. by the earliest Yoruba.” Then he gave his own interpretation-” Perhaps in a more correct phrase, ” The Sudanese, therefore come first-Yoruba, Popo, Edo (Benin), Ijaw and Ibo, then the Semi-Bantu Ibibio, Ukelle and other tribes of the Northwest followed by the Boki, Ekoi, and Bafumbu-Bansaw; and finally the Bantu.” Almost every African tribe came from the Mideast.

For thousands of years, Edos have been getting married. It is unfortunate that , there is no more powerful corresponding word in Edo lexicon than ORONMWEN, that captures the meaning of the word MARRIAGE, as in the anglo-saxon sense. The closest word we have is ORONMWEN All we have are descriptive phrases about marriage- ” Okhia ye omo ye oronmwen,”-he wants to give the daughter away in MARRIAGE. ” Okhia rie Okhuo,”- he wants to marry a woman. ” Okhia romwen odo,” she wants to marry a husband . But sometimes an Edo man/ person would say, ” Ma khia du ugie oronmwen,” we want to perform the festival of marriage.

Before 1897, girls were generally regarded as ready for marriage between the ages of 15 through 18. Courtship can begin among the individuals during the trip to the river to fetch water or during the moonlight play-EVIONTOI. But sometimes parents actually go looking for a wife or husband for their children. This led to the BETROTHAL SYSTEM where marriage were conducted with or without the consent of the individuals involved. Sometimes such betrothal, took place when a baby girl was born. Suitors would begin to approach the parents by sending a log of wood or bundle of yams to the parents of the child. You are likely to hear statements such as -” Imu’ Ikerhan gboto”-I have dropped a log of firewood. When a boy decides to get married and the parents have accepted the bride as a prospective daughter-inlaw, messages go up and down between the two families. This is called IVBUOMO-SEEKING FOR A BRIDE. Series of investigations are conducted by both families-about disease, scandals and crimes which may affect the families. The term of the marriage which of course may include the DOWRY would be settled in some families. Gifts for mother of the bride and IROGHAE- members of the extended family would be part of the settlement. Then a date would be set for the ceremony which would take place in the home of the woman’s family. This was called IWANIEN OMO in the old days The go-between for the two families must be somebody well known by both families. There would of course be a lot of merryment on the day of marriage when the bride and the bridegroom are presented openly to the two families. Kolanuts and wine are presented The OKA EGBE of the woman’s family would normally preside over the ceremony. Prayers are said and kolanuts broken at the family shrine.

Rituals vary from family to family. The woman always sit on her father’s lap before she is given away. Amidst prayers, laughter and sometimes tears, the woman would be carefully hoisted on the lap of the OKA EGBE of the bride’s family. Many years ago, the woman would be sent to the bridegoom house about thitrteen days after IWANIEN OMO and gingerly hoisted either on her husband’s lap or the OKAEGBE of his family. They are done immediately nowadays in the home of the bridegroom. The bride, now known as OVBIOHA would be led by her relatives to the husband’s house with all her property Meanwhile the family and friends of the bridegroom are feasting,drinking, singing and dancing while waiting for the bride to arrive. As the family and friends of the bridegroom awaits the OVBIOHA, messages will arrive suggesting that there are UGHUNGHUN-barriers on the road. The bridegroom has to remove the barriers by sending money to the party, bringing the wife to him or else the wife will not arrive

As they approach the house of the bridegroom, you can hear the echo of OVBIOHA GHA MIEN ARO-ARO, meaning ” Bride ! be proud/ the Bride is proud.” Arrival at the bridegroom’s house is immediately followed by the ceremony of IKPOBO-OVBIOHA-washing of the bride’s hands. A bowl of water with money in it would be brought out. A woman in the bride’s family, sometimes his senior wife would bring out a new headtie, wash the hand of the Ovbioha in the bowl and dries her hand with the headtie. Both the new headtie and the money in the bowl belong to the bride.

A few days later, the bride would taken to the family altar and prayers are said for her. She undergoes what is called the IGBIKHIAVBO ceremony-beating of OKRO on the falt mortar. This would be followed by a visit by the bride’s mother-inlaw and other female members of the family to the newly wed, if they are not living in the same house. She would demand the bed-spread on which they both slept when they had their ” first sexual relationship ” after the wedding. If the bed-spread was stained with blood, the bride was regarded as a virgin and she would be given many presents including money. If it is proven that she was not a virgin, then the preparation for the ceremony of IVIHEN-OATH TAKING ceremony would be set in motion. First, she has has to confess to the older women, the ” other men ” in her life before she got married. The husband would never be told any of her confessions. Then, she would be summoned to the family shrine early in the morning , without warning to take an oath of FIDELITY, FAITHFULLNESS, TRUSTWORTHINESS, HONESTY ETC, to her husband and family. This ceremony is the equivalent of the oath people take in the church, mosque or marriage registry. Once the oath taking ceremony is over, she would be fully accepted into the family. She immediately becomes married not only to her husband but to the family and sometimes to the community.

Christianity, Islam and Westernization has already weaken the Edo traditional system of marriage The traditional ceremony, is sometimes done the same day with many of the rituals avoided in the name of christianity or Islam.

Many women would rather die than take the oath we described above. It was the oath that kept our women out of prostitution for many years. Edo women were regarded as very faithful, trustworthy, honest with strong fidelity to their husbands. Neighboring tribes wanted them as wives. It made divorce on the ground of adultery, less common in those days. The scorge of prostitution which has eaten deep into Edo women’s life ( as reported in the news media) should be placed on the shoulders of Christianity, Islam and Westernization.

Ademola Iyi-Eweka

The book is meant for people who are hopeful but seem not to have yet found their purpose on earth. This book will help enable people and communities to progress with a peace of mind towards their destiny.

Need daily devotion materials for you and your family early in the morning or late at night? I used this daily at night to instruct my children about want I expect from them now and into the future. We pray about the devotional message to a higher power, which makes them feel that the expectation is an achievable goal. It is very good at helping you and your family stay focused in improving your quality of life and making better decisions. Always use this daily!

Edo Baby Names: