The Ebira (also spelt Igbira or Igbirra) are an ethno-linguistic group of Nigeria. Ebira (Tao) is a tribe in Kogi state in the Northern part of Nigeria with a population of 1.5milllions inhabitants. Many Ebira people are from Kogi State, Kwara State, Nasarawa State, Federal Capital Territory – Abuja, Edo, Okene, Okehi, Adavi and Ajaokuta. Okene is said to be the administrative centre of the Ebira-speaking people in Kogi state, not far from the Niger-Benue confluence. The word Ebira means behavior when translated literally, with ethics and hospitality as compliments.
Ebira people are peace loving and accommodating and their hospitality nature has been the reason why many people from different part of the country considered the area as their second home. Ebira land is a blessed area rich in solid mineral resources and economically viable for any type of business.
Ebira (Igbirra) people have unique features of their culture with its ethnic aestheticism that can be appreciated most in the event of traditional marriages.
When a man sees a lady he intends to marry, he discusses his intentions with her, and if she is interested, asks him to bring his people to express his intentions to her parents.
In respect to the Ebira tradition, the man does not walk to the parents of the woman to disclose his intentions; his parents or elders mostly the women do this, by going to the lady’s parents to introduce themselves and also to inform them of their reason for coming to the house.
After this is done, the parents of the lady then conduct a thorough investigation on the upbringing, background, family history and so on, of the intending groom to unravel any history of madness, terminal diseases or criminality in the man’s family. This is with a view to deciding whether or not to give their daughter’s hand in marriage to a family with a tainted reputation in the society. If their findings are appreciable, an approval is given to the man to visit the bride-to- be from time to time to get to know themselves properly.
A date is chosen for the formal introduction of both families and this is called “Ise Ewere” which means ‘what has been in secret is now in the open’. During the celebration, there is usually the presentation of gift items made by the family of the groom to the family of the bride.
The gift items usually include:
1. 42 tubers of yam
2. Hot drinks / Assorted wines /Minerals
4. Walking stick
5. Dried fish or bush meat
6. 10 liters of palm oil
7. Bag of salt
8. Palm oil
9. Groundnut oil
10. Clothing materials in some boxes
11. Jewelries and Adornment for the lady
12. Cash for the clan members and family elders
13. The groom may also decide to present two wrappers to his bride-to-be but this is optional.
On the day of introduction, it is not necessary that the man attends the occasion as his family members do the necessary things on his behalf. The bride’s family in turn, entertains the groom’s family with food and drinks. The families interact with one another and formally introduce every member of both families.
After this is done, the date for the Traditional marriage is fixed. The tubers of yam and other items brought are distributed to neighbors and members of the extended family. A lot of significance is given to this, to solicit for their prayers for a happy marriage as well as to ensure the acknowledgement of the community that the lady now has someone she intends to get married to.
The amount to be collected as bride price is also agreed upon by the parents of the bride and it depends to a large extent, on the financial strength of the man. Apart from the bride price, there are other things like “ozemeiyi” that is “I am attracted to her” which a certain amount of money is attached to, and “otanuvogei” that is “joining hands together”. There is also “idoza” that is “farming price” paid to the bride’s family because Ebira people are predominantly farmers. In the olden days when every young man had to farm, the groom and his friends appoint a day to farm for the father of the bride but these days because most young men don’t farm any longer, they pay money instead.
On the day of the Traditional Marriage, women in the man’s family are seen singing and dancing carrying tubers of yams on their heads to the lady’s house. The singing and dancing continues at their arrival at the lady’s house where the ceremony kicks off. The ceremony is usually colorful with display of dances by maiden groups mostly the bride’s friends and by women groups. A religious leader and the parents of the couple offer prayers for them to bless their marriage and a certificate is thereafter given to the couple by the religious leader.
Thereafter, the lady is escorted by her friends and other women to her husband’s house with her belongings.
If you have any addition to this tradition please let us know. Thanks