Numerous elaborate and very peculiar wedding customs are practiced in Nigeria. You should at least once in your life participate in a Kanuri traditional marriage because it is a unique ritual. The traditional and vibrant wedding showcases the dance, music, and cultural activities of the Kanuri people.
In Borno State, the Kanuris are the predominant ethnic group. In the Northern region of Nigeria, the Kanuris’ wedding is unusual in the way it is conducted.
This tribe has young marriage customs. The men get married in their 20s, while the girls get married in their teens.
According to Islamic doctrine, men are allowed to wed up to four wives.
The first marriage for Kanuri men occurs when they are 20 years old. The parents wed him to a young woman, typically between the ages of 10 and 14. The advice given to the young men is to wed a young virgin for their first marriage so they can age together. But because these young females are so highly valued, marriage is pricey.
These young brides consent to relationships with suitors who are favored by their parents. The male must be a member of a well-known family, a friend of the family, or a relative. A member of the groom’s family breaks up meetings and organizes the wedding rituals.
The following are some of the main actions that would result in a marriage union:
-Confirming to the groom the bride’s approval (i.e. to send his party to her family)
-Parents or legal representatives scheduling a meeting
-Elders asking for the bride’s hand in marriage. Typically, for this, a bag of cola-nuts, a box of sweets, and a pack of gum are presented. This will be given out to loved ones and well-wishers by the bride’s family.
During the Ra’aki phase, which means “Declaration of Interest,” the husband presents the bride with a suitcase packed with clothing, shoes, bags, and cosmetics. The bridegroom’s sisters, female cousins, and other family members typically carry out this role. To break the engagement news in this situation, more sweets, chewing gum, and cola nuts are provided. It’s also important to keep in mind that typically, the Ra’aki is half of the Kususuram, the principal gifts that the groom gives the wife after the wedding. As a result, the Kususuram will be four boxes or more if the Ra’aki is two boxes.
The third visitation by the bridegroom’s family is to debate and decide on the dowry, which is paid in gold coins in Kanuri society.
Even though the dowry and the date-fixing have recently been combined into one event, the fourth coming is still used to set the wedding date.
In Kanuri marriages, the bride’s Luwali, or guardian, who is often a senior male paternal relative, receives the bride’s dowry from the groom with assistance from his paternal relations. The Kwororam, which literally translates to “money for asking the bride’s hand in marriage,” is given to the luwali through an intermediary from the groom if the union is between a non-cousin and a maiden bride. The bride’s mother or other senior female relatives who live nearby receive this honorarium. Also possible is a present for the bride herself. This payment is not applicable in the event of a marriage between cousins.
The rationale behind this is that such a marriage can only take place within a family because it has already been constituted and is just waiting for the right moment. If the marriage occurs, gifts and money given to the prospective bride during the courtship are regarded as gestures of goodwill from the groom to his bride. Whether the marriage succeeds or not, such gifts are not reimbursed, especially when one marries a virgin.
If all goes according to plan with the aforementioned processes, the bride’s Luwali may receive the dowry either immediately during the third coming or one to three months later. Since the son-in-law and his bride’ luwali have a shame-avoidance relationship, intermediaries are employed and haggling is acceptable under this circumstance. It can be challenging to determine the precise moment in an engagement when each party has legal standing to interfere with the other’s plans for marriage. The majority of informants concurred that any initiation fees made to the girl’s luwali (the luwaliram) before the major payment are not refundable if plans fall through at this point. If the girl or her family returns, the luwaliram is returnable.
The primary events for weddings begin on Thursday with Nalle or Lalle. The bride and other female guests use henna, which is referred to as “lalle,” to adorn their hands and legs. The start of the wedding festivities is indicated by this. Here, a large basin full of items such as soaps, slippers, perfumes, and incense popularly known as Turaren wuta and Humra will be given to the bride’s aunts from her father’s side [bawaa] where they will sort it out and exchange it with the groom’s family, after which they will share the remaining items among themselves. Other items include sacks of henna leaves, boxes full of cloth, money, kola nuts.
The Wushe-wushe night, which begins promptly at 7 p.m. on Fridays, signifies that everyone is welcome. The fathers, mothers, aunts, relatives, friends, and well-wishers attend this vibrant and thrilling event, which is held at the bride’s house on the eve of the wedding day. In this instance, the bride is escorted by her friends and family, and the husband is there with them, sitting on a temporary throne next to his fiancée.
There is a lot of traditional music and dance especially the Ganga kuraa which is performed by everybody, including the aged. The groom is invited to the bride’s residence, where he sits on a makeshift throne alone with his bride before the whole invitees. Usually, the male Lorusa is accompanied by his friends and relatives. Wushe-wushe is the second most entertaining event after the entire wedding. It is the gala night of the celebrations and lasts through the night till dawn.
Saturday is D-Day. Usually, in the morning between 7-11am, the groom with his friends, relatives, and well-wishers converge at a meeting point, from where they go to the bride’s residence for the Wedding Fatiha. Here an Imam (Islamic scholar) will preside and conduct the rites of marriage involving offer and acceptance of the bride’s hand in marriage by their Luwalis, announcement of the dowry paid, witnesses to the nuptial union, offers prayers/supplications and finally declaring them as husband and wife in front of all as witnesses. Immediately after the Wedding Fatiha, the bride’s family tends to reciprocate the groom’s effort by also presenting him with the gift of cloth, shoes, perfumes, wristwatches, the holy book, kettle and lots more. It is this gift the groom shares among his friends, sort of a thank you for being there for me.
From there the groom and his people return to a reception that follows immediately. The whole day is usually filled with joy, feasting, and merry-making; until 2:00pm when preparations are made by the groom’s family to take the “Kususuram ” to the bride’s residence. The Kususuram is the main gift the groom presents to the bride from the grooms family, just like the Ra’aki it also comes in luggage, but more than the ra’aki, usually from three (3) upwards depending on the financial status of the groom.
Later in the evening the grooms relative and friends will come over to pick up the bride where she will be accompanied by her family members to her husband’s house because in Kanuri culture the bride is not supposed to sleep in her father’s house after the wedding Fatiha or on the day of the Wedding Fatiha. Sunday morning which is the penultimate event is Kisai lewa meaning “Greeting of in-laws”. Here, the groom and selected friends of his go to greet his in-laws, which gives the bride’s parents an opportunity to advise the groom about being patient and tolerant with his new bride and so on. Many are curious to know; why are gold coins demanded as dowry for a Kanuri bride instead of its cash equivalent? What could be so special about Kanuri women to make them so regarded, dignified, so cherished and appreciated?
To answer this all-important question, one must first understand how the Kanuri people regard their women. To the Kanuris, their women are nugget pearls. They are well brought up religiously, to respect, obey and please their husbands. They are taught the art of creating a conducive home. Kanuri women are so good at being wives, that other women from other cultures dread ever having to be married to the same husband in a polygamous setting. Most often she tends to become the favorite wife of the husband. The Kanuri wife is mostly gorgeous, elegant, beautiful and highly refined with culture.
Now, the Kanuri culture is mostly influenced by Islamic traditions and the wedding dowry is not an exception. Islamically it is ordained that the bride price must be weighed to meet a minimum of ¼ of the gold coin and above. Some give the bride 12 coins of pure gold, others present 18, 24 pieces or even more. And because gold has a universal value and its exchange rate is stable and harmonized throughout the world and for most times, the bride price dowry of a Kanuri woman is therefore tied to gold and thus she is always justly valued.