Anda di halaman 1dari 59

"- ic / (

\,' .. /-: L.
/ ~ - - ;
Report of the Committee on Bride Price
PlUCJ!: Is 6d NET
Pri111ftl IINl PllblisiiH 6y IM a--J p,;,w, Erprp
, ~ I "-- ..
'I_'he Eastern Regional has now st';'died the Report of the Committee
on Bnde-Pnce, set up m 1954 to m,csttgate the soc1al effects of the payment of Bride-
Region, and to make recommendations for the removal of any
2. In publishing the Report, the Government wishes to express ita appreciation
of the excellent and painstaking work of the Committee. It wishes a1ao to make clear
its attitude to the recommendations of the Committee, in order that there may be no
doubt on the matter, and in order that the most rapid and effective implementation of
the Report may be achieved.
3. The Government accepts the Principal Recommendations of the Committee
contained in Part IV of the Report, and also the Other Recommendations and
Observations which follow immediately thereafter, aa the basis for future action.
The Government commends the recommendations to the people of the Eastern Region,
and seeks their whole-hearted co-operation in seeing that the recommendatio{IS are
brought to realisation.
4. The Government undertakes to pursue the recommendations of the Committee
energetically, by legislation either at the Regional level, or at the Local Government
level. In particular, the Government intends to introduce legislation on the lllattmS
of divorce, child marriage, the custom of a woman bearing children for her father,
the "Osu" system and the matrilineal system of inheritance. The Govenuneut accepts
that it is its duty to act as an inst":'ment of enlightenment in these important social
EsiN A. EsiN
l)n: l'l FltK T\l TIIF '1-:X.'\TT\H l\l0/\'\1,

h,,nour "' l'"""'nt our
2. Our ,,( \WI"l' a.< f,llows:
Em1cu, NtOI!IUA
30th Ol:tober. 1954
"T tit, S<.><:ial of the payment of bride-price in the Eatem
and. to make any !'l'l'llm":'endations 10 Execution= Council it mipt think
ht wuh ne" to n-m,wal ,,, any anomaly or hardship."
3. \WIT a..-<ked to th<' j,,u,.\\int: places: Oaoja. Ogidi, Nntwi, Awb, Aba,
Abonnema. l'yo. (Ahoada), Owerri and Orlu.
4. It was d..Oded that a cinular letter should be sent out to all Nation= Autboritiea
and Local Government bodies and to tribal and other l'nions and that the mat:IU should
receil-e due publicity by notic-es in the press and announcements over the Nipian
Broadca..<ting Sen;c-e, This \\'liS drawn up by the Chairman and dispatdled on 16th
July, 1954. A copy at Apptndix I. Information as to the sc:ale of dowry
and the social effects of its in the numerous dans and oommittees througbout
the Region was asked for. The ,;ews of pri\'ate individuals \ftre also invited and
some 350 letten u-ere sent out.
S. A pn:lirninary meeting \\'liS held in Aba on 6th August when the wriacD eYidmce
then received was re\;ewed. It was decided that it would be neor:ssary to visit four
more centres for the hearing of oral namely Port Hamrun, Onitsha, Okigwi
and Umuahia. It was decided that a visit to Brass ought to be Then: the
marriage systems, although in some respects similar to those found in Degema Division,
nevertheless present special problems not with anywheR else in the Region.
However, in view of the difficulty of securing laum:b tnnsport md acaxnmodatiOD
while in Brass, Executive Council were not asked to approve a visit there. l:nsteMI
we asked repn;sentatives to Abonnema and a few did in fact come. Approval
to visit the four additional centres mentioned above was giftll on 11th August.
6. Our itinerary appears at Appendi% 11.
The Written Evidem:e
The response to our appeal has been very gratifying and- 413 letten ba-..:
been received. A fair proportion of Native Authorities and Local Go'fer111M1lt bodies
Rplied to our letter and the response from the Unions Uld from persoos seeiag nOiia:s
in the press-particularly the Ecmrt OwdooA and the West Atnc- Not, was wry
OODSiderahle.. A high proportion of the letten received was from J'OUDif men, though
the views of older men are well repn:sented. The womeo, on the otiM band, wflo
as tan little in public aft'airs pro\'ed to be rather backwud in IXIIDinc
forward, though a few opinions haw been received. As far as the wri- eYideace
is concerned, there is no divergence of opinioo bet-..:11 - and -. both youag
and old.
i. The t.ii,is.ions from which havt' received most lctttn- arc Okigwi and Owerrl.
havt" also many from Orlu. \\e this. as an indication of where the
re-or le arc most worned about the amount of their dowry.
The ()r1al E,;dence . . . . . .
8. Co1;"1es of our lhn_erary were to Dtstnct who were asked to gtvc
due publiCity to our to I_nvite representatJ,es from clans ar:'d f!roups
to atttnd. People from wh1ch we were not asked to VISit were tnnted to

re<" .
. In most centres we had. a good attendance and f':'und the peof>le most willing
lain their customs regard1ng marriage and the soc1al effects ans1ng from them.
n,:"%nh place which was really disappointing was Onitsha where the few who appeared
lained that only short notice and little publicity had been given. At Aba the
"-as small, while at Orlu, Okir;, Umuahia, Isoba (Ahoada), Uyo and Ogoja
it was so large as to be almost overwhelming.
10. \\'e were informed when we went to Owerri on 6th September that the people
were holding a mass meeting on the I lth to discuss the question of limiting dowry
and they asked us if we would return on 13th September to hear the result. This
""' were able to do.
11. At Uyo the attendance was very good, although the people were not co-

change and any Government interference was most unwelcome. They said that if
anv limitation was placed on the amount of dowry payable, husbands would be unwilling
to "continue the time-honoured custom of helping their wives' parents after marriage.
VI-nether or not this is the sum total of what determined their attitude we cannot say.
12. Here there is a conflict with the written evidence as a fair number of letters
have been received from this area complaining that the amount of dowry is too high.
13. Generally speaking, however, there is complete agreement between the oral
and written evidence. The onlf discrepancy apart from the one already noted is
that letters from some areas say the present dowry is a little higher than what we found
in our oral enquiries. This may be due to the)desire on the part of correspondents to
emphasise the social evils, or more probably, to a tendency to write generally about
specific cases where amounts above the normal have been paid. Where this discrepancy
oecurs, the figures given in the oral evidence have been quoted. A summary of the
evidence received appears at Appendix III.
The Compreheaaiveness of the Report
14. In view of the fact that we were asked to visit only ten places we do not think
that our enquiries were meant to represent anything but a sample of conditions in
the Region. In spite of the volume of the written evidence which is considerable, and
even though we did in fact visit fourteen centres and in some of these representatives
appeared to give evidence from other divisions, our report cannot be said to be fully
comprehensive. Careful consideration has been given to the written evidence and
we have tried to limit what appears in this report to what we regard as confinned.
the information contained in Part Ill in respect of places we did not visit
I& mcluded for completeness, though we do not regard it as fully confirmed.
15. \\"l' :-:.lwuld likt. to mention here that many complaint!\ have hecn received from
the ptnp!t' PI dl\isions not on our itinerary that the Committee ha!\ not visited their
(l. P.trt Ill ns. as the evidence a description clan hy clan of
marn;tgt. systems 1.11 thc1r trad1t10nal together with an account of how they have
changed with the 1mpact of CIVilisation and the introduction of ::i. full money
economy. It might he thought at first that a lot of historical details are not pertinent
to our cnqtnry. I lowe\cr, we are strongly of the opinion that unless the traditional
form of marriage is compared with conditions obtaining in the present era the social
effects which we were asked to investigate cannot he properly assessed. The picture
on which to hasc our recommendations would not otherwise be complete.
Use of the term Bride-Price
17. :\1any complaints h>'e been received against the use of the objectionable and
derogatory term "bride-price." Until recent years the word
dowry" was always
used. This is an English word which has a different connotation in English than
usually ascribed to it when referring to African marriage systems. The Uyo County
Council ha>e asked us to use the Ibibio term "Mkpo ndo" when referring to the
Ibibio marriage, which means-"the thing which a man gives when he marries a
woman." We have decided to stick to the word "dowry" throughout our report and
we define it as "those things whether cash, gifts in kind or labour services which a
man gives when he marries a woman and which are regarded in a case of divorce as
refundable." In this way we draw a distinction from "petty expenses"-the incidental
expenses of marriage such as the presentation of drink, gifts to the bride's parents
and relatives and to those who gather to settle the dowry, the cost of marriage feasts
and the cost of sacrifices and ceremonies at the time of marriage which may be paid
for by the bridegroom, but which in a case of divorce do not form part ofthe refundable
18. The following description, which is in general terms, applies particularly
to the Ibo system of marriage. It applies throughout the whole of Owerri Province
with the exception of parts of Bende and Okigwi Divisions and to Onitsha Province,
particularly Onitsha and Awka Divisions. It also applies to the lbo clans in Ahoada
Division, but not to the Aro District of Enyong nor to Onitsha town:
The Traditional System
19. If a young man wished to marry a girl, he would first approach the girl and
obtain her consent. He would then take some wine to her parents and inform them
of his intentions. After the wine had been drunk he would be asked to return home
and might expect to hear nothing for a few days. The girl's parents would then consider
the matter and make enquiries about the young man and his family. They --:ould
consider whether or not the young man's family had a reputation for stable
and whether its women-folk had produced large families. If there was ap.y
in the family or any member of it was a thief this would probably be a bar to the mamage.
A meeting would then be arranged between the two families to talk over the proposal.
The young man would be asked to attend and to bring more wine.
20. Marriage was thus not merely a matter for the contracting .Parties; _it was
the concern of the two families. The question of consent lay first With the g.rl but
it was the parents who had the final say.
21. lkforr final w.t> reached. it wa> usual for the !(irl to pay the young
man a trial ,isn which la>tcd a """ d.l\> onh. On htr retmn she would he asked by
ht1' parTnts if !'.he rf'3lly did want tn mrr: the man. In some clans there were
t""O trial pt"riods and on her return hnmc on each occasion. the same question would
1-.., put to her.
21. During the period of betrothal which usuallt lasted sewral years the young
man labour senices to the girl's parents. These took the form of assistance
in farm work, particularly with the original clearing of the bush and the making of
yam of assistance in the building of their house and sometimes palm cutting and
also. During this period he usually gave presents to the girl's parents
of things like palm wine, yams and firewood or, if he was a hunter, a share of any animal
he killed. It was obligatory to gin certain presents at festival times. In
this way the parents were compensated for their trouble in bringing up their daughter
and for the loss of her sen;ces on the farm when she married. In some areas the
parents received in addition livestock such as cows or goats or a special gift of yams
as an additional recompense. This was the origin of the dowry. It was never fixed.
The number of years during which labour senices were rendered varied with the
age of the girl when the marriage was first agreed upon and where cows and goats were
also given their number varied with the wealth of the young man and his family. VVhen
the girl went permanently to live with the voung man there was usually some ceremony
to mark the occasion and a feast, (someti.mes more than one) would be given. The
payment of dowry was not the essential element of the marriage contract. It was
the of consent, ratified by the acceptance of drink that was really imJ?ortant and
generally the marriage ceremony, often sacrificial in nature, was also essential.
23. When the bride went to her new home she was given presents by her parents
of seed yarns and cocoyarns and of household and farming utensils. 1':1 this wal;
foundation of a new home was laid. The labour services and the presentatiOn of penodi-
cal gifts by the husband to the wife's parents continued after marriage. Family ties
went thua strengthened and ageing parents were cared for. Cases of d!vorce were
adjudicated by a village elder or group of elders and in such an event the grl's parents
became responsible for refunding the dowry. Divorce was far from common
very rare where there were children. If trouble arose between a husband and Wife,
the two families would endeavour to affect a reconciliation.
24. In some areas, such as Owerri, marriage was contracted when the girl was
in her childhood or infancy. A father would select a wife for his son and during the years
they were growing up the father would make periodical presents to the girl's parents.
Here there was a departure. from the usual course of events, in that consent lay with the
parents and not with the girl herself. However, a distinction must be drawn here between
child marriage proper where all the presents given were treated as refundable and
child betrothal where it was merely a question of an understanding between the two
families and any presents given were not refundable. In any case, the girl was generally
required to give her consent after she had reached the age of puberty before the arrange-
ment could be ratified and her formal consent was usually called for in the marriage
ceremony. She might be handed a cup of wine during the course of the ceremony.
She would take a sip and hand the cup to the bridegroom or a member of his family.
If she handed it to a member of her own family it meant she did not accept the man
as her future husband.
The Pre-war yeara
25. With the impact of Western civilisation, changes began to appear in the tradi-
tional oyotem. Pseudo-forms of currency such as cowries and monilias, brass 1111d iron
rods came to ht: n"ed for tr;\ding which had previously been hy barter only and gradually
morl' mln took up fixed employment leaving them with_ n? time in which to render
the traditional labour service...;;. The dowry came to be patd m these fonns of currency
and it came to be fixed. Rut it was fixed at a level within the range of the
ordinary palm-cutter, farmer or labourer. I_t dtd not remam constant throughout
the vears, hut ,aried with the general prospenty of the people. In many areas there
was a fall in the amount of down during the years of depression in the early 1930..
Graduallv these pseudo-forms .;r currency _replaced by money a_nd the dow':Y
came to he paid in coin. The gifts at fest1val t1mes whtch had prev10usly been tn
kind began to be commuted to money. In some areas, however, the
did not occur until during or after the second World War. But what obtamed m the
traditional form was preserved in its essent1als. Marnage was the concern of two
families. The betrothal period lasted a number of years and the dowry was pa1d by
instalments. There was a degree of stability and divorce was not common. Prostitution
was abhorred and was virtually unknown. It sometimes happened that a girl became
pregnant before marriage, but almost invariably public opinion would force her lover
to honour his obligations before the child was born.
26. There are exceptions to this. In Onitsha town the dowry soared to as much
as 60 to 70 during the years immediately prior to the First World War and a limitation
was first imposed in 1920. In the Njikoka District of Awka it was as high as 60 in
1919 and was paid in cash. And in areas where girls' education started early there
came into being a small differential for education in the payment of dowry.
The War Years
27. During the war years a change took place and the servicemen are held to have
been largely instrumental in bringing it about.
28. Many of them entered the Army as young unmarried men and when they found
that the Army pays marriage allowances they soon became alive to the advantages of
acquiring a wife. Money was dispatched to their parents who were asked to look
around and find them wives. Girls were called upon to marry young men they had
either never seen or had forgotten and the period of betrothal, so important in the
traditional system, had no place in such marriages. Soldiers returning from overseas
who had not yet acquired a wife came home with the object of doing so as quickly as
possible. Men with daughters of marriageable age were dazzled by the money they
were offering and often made their daughters marry them, irrespective of the fact that
they had already been betrothed to others and in complete disregard of the girls' wishes.
Instead of arrangements being made by the two families the soldiers negotiated them-
selves with the parents of the girls they wished to marry. The dowry rose. Often
it was paid in one lump sum, instead of by instalments. Gradually the idea dawned
that to marry off one's daughter was a way to acquire wealth and that idea has persisted.
There is even evidence that on this account the birth of a male child today may bring
29. But this is not the whole story. During the war years there was more money
about. The price of foodstuffs rose and farmers got much more for their yarns. Th"
dowry in the years immediately prior to the war varied according to the general pros-
perity of the people and the correct interpretation of what happpened is probably that
the dowry rose because there was more money about and the servicemen were in the
vanguard of their allowances and gratuities. Wealthy traders are not unknown in
some areas to have bid high for the girls they wished to marry and played their pan
in raising dowries.
,,(\, h,I\T l'tlUtill\U.'l( hi tht tl$.1 War.:lllll !'HI llol\t
tiw-n- &IY ,,thfor fa,.-h,r.-. "hid1 ou'\'tlunt h'r _l of the1r1
n_thf. lft"at imronant;T atta..:lwd h' thr whh.h expected
\\,11 the "' 1\t'\\ lhm_w. u is nurdy a quc."slon of cooking
l"l'ts anti \'lms but a St"\\'11\ m.tchuw. :1 :1 tan trunk und htaps of clothes
and pockt-t Thr amuu;lt ,,t is tixttl so as to l'ovcr the cost. of
Girls' r,.h;l'4lti''" hc."hirhl that of with the result that educated
in gr<"at With thi" h"' ""rown tlw on thr part of parents that
ha'"" the" ri.:ht to f't"\.'0\'t"f tht tf thtir dauJ.!htc.r.:.' they .marry,
The, rrsuh is in Owerri for xample, lllkl may ht p:ml !or an lllllcratc grl and
200 for with Standard Yl, whik th<' dowry on a c.rttiatcd teacher, nurse or
mi,lwife may h<- as as [.\00 .
. 31. TM high dowry is to a extent for the fall in morality in the
Rcgwn and all the, c'OilSfijU<nc.-s it has m t wake. Doth men and women
att forced to rtrnain singk after the age at which they would !'ormally mar':}' and
the adjustment and adaptation nl'Ct'sta) in both partner.; to a mar_rage 1s more
and less rompkte. It is frequrntly stated that the b1rth rate IS decbning
though ,.;thout recourse to statisti<'S and the ne<e,;.sary data we have no means of
pro\"irlg this and indttd the last census tend to prove the contrary. A truer statement
may wtll that tM birth rate is not increasing a,;. rapidly as it otherwise would be if
marriage today were easier.
32. The practice of men and women living together is becoming
panicularlv in the towns. Manv children are today born out of wedlock. are
hc&ing UJw towns to practise prostitution merely because as long a.s their parents de-
mand an exorbitant dowry they know there is little likelihood of their getting married
if they remain at borne. Prostitution, moreO\er, is not confined to the towns. It was
previously abhorred. Jl:ow it is to a large e:-:tent condoned and the fear has been
voiced that the women of the East prefer prostitution to marriage.
33. The following comments, all from Okigwi, are so expressive, they are thought
worthy of quoting in full:
"Far less people marry and many have died celibates-What a tragedy.''
"Villages and towns teem with unmarried girls creating a large door for a regu.
lar visitor-the devil."
"Polygamy has been discouraged consequently agriculture had not got sufficient
hands for greater yield."
34. It is also often said that today cases of procuring abortion occur all too fre-
qyeot!y. In many areas, for example in EtChe Clan in Ahoada Division it is strongly
apinst custom for a girl to have a child unless she is married and the temptation to
ftSOI't ID this illegal procedure must be great.
35. Men wishing to marry are driven to extremes in order to raise money for
the dowry. Not only do they burden themselves with heavy debts at exorbitant rates
of inJerest, but they also pledge land and personal belongings. Sometimes men aro
tempted ID stal and misappropriate public funds for the purpose. A marriage which
starts off uncia- a heavy cloud of debt has little chance of success and bickering& and
quands generally ensue. Broken homes are often the result. Before the war if a
wife approached her father with a long tale of maltreatment by her husband he would
in a glaring set about refunding the dowry, but today when he has accepted a
heavy BUm which be knows he has no chance of refunding he is obliged to tum a deaf
ear on ber entreaties.
31l lt
.._ r
-nth :.
id th:1_1 l... llo not gi\'e in
thn :-tll
1w !
\lu-..1 1\Hhltr. llw dtnunt of rhotcc on the female stde has
ds.lppl:nnl :
ul !1
. 11! hall In Orlu, for

nun h.
.... 111 in!!: :1 wilt. w111 he anxwus to get a return for hts
., tn,
!lh t.
n11 anlll1cr is more like that of a serf than a social
;:-. //as J/
1 1
,,,d/1' riHn? The question as to whether more is really
p:1id way of do\\ry .11 1\u presl'nt time than formerly. In terms of
tlw :tnswlr is ''' ,.
slr , l'S. lltl\n'n'r, the ,alue of money has fallen and what ts more
important th:11_1 the.. t.".'lsh paymc..n_ts i:-\ a c?mpari_son in terms of values. It
cannot he dcnc..d that p:1id in \ormcr ttmes dtd represent a constderable sum

in tams nf prcsl'nt-day ,alu<.'s.. In Nsukka, for example. three or four cows
wrn In ()zuhulu (<lnitsh.t lli,iswn) the dowry was at one time five to ten bags
of ctmrils. .-\ h:q.! or L'm\rits w.ts then rated at 1 and a four gallon tin of palm oil
in those da\s Lost on\\ Is. In Oguta it was formerly paid in yams and was fixed at
forty stac..ks, there he;ng thirtY yams to a stack. There is insufficient information
in ti1is report to carry the ;m:tly;is. f;u, hut it does seem that the dowry on an average
illitcr:tte l!irl has not risc..n Ycrr much. (The position in the case of educated girls is
of course,\Try ditl"ercnt). .
3H. The question which naturally follows is where then lies the hardship ? The
answer is that in former tinws there wa.s a long period of betrothal and the dowry
wots paid instalment<\lly mcr a period of years. The time now spent by youths in
school was fonmrly spent in working for the parents of their girl-friends. Child
marri;tgc is today dying out and if a boy attends a secondary school, he may not think
of marriage before he has reached the age when his father would have expected
him to be married. I I ere lies the need for change.
39. Other Ethuir Groups.-The lbibio peoples of Eket, Uyo and lkot Ekpene
Di\'isions, etc., ha\'e a marriage system which is characterised by" the practice of fattening
and femak circumcision and by the importance attached to the labour services rendered
both before and after marriage. The operation of cliterodectomy or female circumci-
sion is performed when the girls ate between the ages of one and two years. Before
the girl goes to Ii,c permanently with her husband she is confined for a period of several
months in what is linown as the fattening room. She does no work and grows fat. The
husband pays for her maintenance during this period and he is also required to provide
other things such as a bed and bedding, etc. Apart from the labour services rendered,
the husband is required to defray the burial expenses of his wife's parents. These
form part of the refundable dowry and much importance is attached to them. More
importance is attached to the help given by a husband to his wife's family than to the
actual dowry, which has risen though not to the same extent as in the case of the Ibo
40. The Ejik peoples of Calabar also practise fattening and circumcision. Their
dowry has not risen.
41. Amongst the /jaws of Brass and Degema Divisions, there are two systems of
marriage-a big dowry system in which the children belong to the father's family
and a small dowry system in which the children belong to the mother's family.
In Brass much importance is attached to female circumcision amongst most
clans. It ts performed after the age of puberty and is accompanied by a period of
fatte':'ing.. The amount of the big dowry has always been high and small dowry
marnage ts the commonest form today. The amount paid has not risen since before

."\)[ fcnlale circuml'ision. marriage
For details. st-r the i; lt.ruc of other 1n tlw .
b.- for <;hange.. \\"h<re\-et the dowry is high there is a demand that
. 1"'('- Ul'"el tron1 Ok,g-w, says. 1f reduced ... bachelor-ship and \'irgmity
".ould he abated .. \ wtfe would cons<qu<ntly remain for the husband and not for all_;,
:::-.:aturally young men wtshmg to marrvwant a reduction and thevgenerally ask for a big
But IS also abundant endence that parents and elders consider it is in the best
Interests ot the that it should he reduced, though naturally when a man has
tor marnage his self interest may come to the fore. A writer
. . . m 83) Remember that_" hen sla,e trade was on, the people who became
nch b) 1t were ne_wr pleased to see It abolished." As far as the ,iews of the women
ha\-e been they also wish for a drastic reduction.
. 43. Man) people have little thought as to whether this is best accomplished
b) b) the Regwnal Government or by subsidiary legislation by Native
and bodtes. Those that ha\e prefer the latter. The
only d.inswn m whtch thts has been done recently is Ahoada and for detailed comments

of one set of rules appears at

44. There have also been many instances where Native Authorities, tribal unions
and ,;nage societies have endeavoured to make rules restricting it. These of course
have not the backing of constituted authority and as such have not been an overwhelming
45. Apart from the question of limiting dowry, there is also an overwhelming demand
in the lbo area that the cost of the petty expenses of marriage be also reduced. These
include the performance of customary rites, presents given by a man to the girl's parents
during the betrothal period, marriage feasts and other expenses such as payment to those
who gather to settle the dowry. A church ceremony may cost the bridegrqom as much
as 40, particularly if he pays for the bride's trousseau, as is generally the case.
46. At the present time, divorce is sometimes pronounced by a Native Court
but more often by a village elder. There is a wide demand that in future it should be
pronounced only in court. This applies not only to the Ibo area but to other groups
as welL It is always accompanied by the desire for registration of marriages. Not
only would this give proper recognition to marriage under Native Law and Custom
but it is necessary if any reform is to come in the matter of divorce. It would also be of
great assistance in disputes over child custody. In order to avoid useles repetition
the demand for registration of marriage and the pronouncement of divorce only in
court have been omitted in referring to the limitation of dowries in Part IlL
47. In Ikom and in certain clans in Calabar Division the dowry is very low with
the result that the divorce rate is high and marriage has little stability. There is here
a demand that dowry be increased.
48. The only demand for legislation by the Regional Authority direct comes
from Brass Division where the enlightened section of the community wish to abolish
the prevailing small dowry system. They consider that this is not a matter which can
safely be left to the Native Authority.
49. Everywhere we have been we have made the suggestion that the payment of
dowry should be abolished altogether. A few of the educated, both men and women,
agreed with the idea. The vast majority received the suggestion with horror I
The Townshirs. Thi!-1- would not_ c_omplcte mentioning
!lw townships. The qul'Slinn nriscs at to how does l.tvmg m a townsh!p a
when he marries. If the man is a stranger <.md he Wtshes to marry a gtrl who tS a nattve
nf the town, he is expected to pay a higher dowry. However, our enquiries
lead us to hcllcvc that suc.:h marriage!-. arc few. usually return home
to marry. The dowry then th<." same those who are living at home.
Onitslra Division
Onitsha Township
51. Traditionally dowry was paid in labour services and in presents given at
festival times. Trading stations were first establihed in Onitsha in 1857 and thereafter
when the menfolk began to work for the firms they found themselves unable to render
these services and dowry began to be paid in cowries. In 1900 it was fixed at 10
By 1910 it had risen to 17 and by 1915 60 to 70 was being paid. In 1920 the
Onitsha Native Authority stepped in and fixed the amount of refundable dowry at 32.
During the following years, the incidental expemes of marrige increased appreciably
until by 1938 the cost of getting married was 80 to 100. In that year the Native
Authority intervened once more and fixed the amount of refundable dowry at 17 and
petty expenses, which took the form of drink at 3. This is distributed as follows:-
To the father
To the mother ...
To the bride (for clothes) ...
To the parents (for services rendered)... . . . . . . . ..
To the guardian of the wife, where she is not brought up by her
7 0
4 0
3 0
I 0
mother... ... 1 0
To the family head 0 10
To the female head of the family . . . . . . . . . 0 5
To the young men who bring the bride to her husband's house 0 5
52. It is customary for a man to give presents to the wife's parents at festival times.
Formerly these might be in the form of yams, corn, beans, peas or fish if the man was a
fisherman or meat if he was a hunter. Now they often take the form of a small gift of
53. The marriage system in Onitsha is working well. The "Ekwueme" (age grade)
keeps a watching brief on its working and the people appear to be well satisfied with
the system. Prior to 1938 young men from the township frequently went to the sur-
rounding country to look for wives, but they no longer do so and if today a stranger
wishes to marry an Onitsha girl, the above scale does not apply. He is generally
required to pay more.
54. We are informed by people outside Onitsha that because of the low dowry
the refund of which is a relatively easy matter, tbere are frequent divorces. With this
Onitsha people do not agree and they say that because a wife can fairly easily obtain the
money for a refund of dowry her husband is obliged to treat her with a degree of consi-
deration that rarely obtains elsewhere. We are of the opinion that if the divorce rate
is in fact high it is due not so much to the low dowry but to ill-considered marriages
and lack of home training on the part of parents. Formerly, the period of betrothal
was longer and more thought was given to the suitability of any marriage proposed.
The social status of the family was considered, whether it had a reputation for stable
marriages and whether its womenfolk had produced large families.
its-ha. Ltt.'( t!ut is a tbr f(lfd(lwry, of educational
lundcrcd th_t' tduc;ltillJ\ (\( :'\'or it tended to limit the
value of g1\'t.'ll h' tlu. bndl' whtn :=:he tirst to her husband's house. In
the cast" l'f p;tn.nts. nuy [100 in ,aluc. The es...o;;;ential element in
marriagt:" is tht. gi,ing of rarititd by the. rresentation of drinks. Jt always
ht-en a nlattc.r the: tW<..l familtc:=: nmnrncd. Payment of dowry is not and never has
bct-n the most imporunt bcwr.
The Nnewi Area
56. In the area of the Somhern Onitsha District Council there are six clans. The
is high in this area and i< ,,f the order of 100 to 200, depending on the education
of the bride.
57. Amichi. Traditionally. dow': was paid in labour services. A suitor would
do fann work for the father of the girl he liked for a number of years. The length of
such labour scnices nried according to the age of the girl when the an angement was
first made. The average was prob.ably about six years. Gifts ?f yams,_ cocoyams,
kola nuts and palm "ine were made at festi,al times. Labour serv1ces contmued to be
rendered after marriage. although these were not an essent1al part of the dowry payment.
58. Later dow., came to be paid in cowries. These were reckoned as follows:
6 cowries=! count.IO counts =I ukwu, 4()() ukwus=l bag. The valueofa bag of
cowries has Yaried through the years. At one time it was equivalent to L Today it
is between 2 and 3. Originally the dowry_ was 5 b_ags. It rose stead1Iy until in
the Years immediatelY before the war the ma>nmum pa1d was 40 bags, equ1valent to
29: In this era, down ranged from 15 to 29 and generally a iinle more was
paid for the educated. illiterate girls are married for ab?ut 90, girls with
standard \'I for 120 and the dowl") on a Higher Elementary teacher may
be 180. However, sometimes an educated girl of such a standard IS g1ven away in
marriage for what may be regarded a! most as a nominal dowry of about 30 and occa-
sionally no dowry is paid at all.
59. In this area, child marriage is practised and traditionally a girl may be martied
almost from the dav she is born.
60. A known as "izu-afia," or tying of cloth is performed to mark the
time when a girl passes to full womanhood. Certain expenses are associated with it
and these are generally borne by the husband though occasionally the girl's father may
have the ceremony performed and in this case he defrays the cost. However, the former
case is more usual and the ceremony generally takes place after the payment of dowry
has been completed. Traditionally the ceremony involved leading the girl to the
market She returned after the completion of the ceremony clothed. Nowadays
tradillonal form is not insisted upon in its entirety and it is often not performed
m the case of Christians. In such a case it usually takes the form of a token payment of
one guinea to the leader of the girl's age-grade. After this, the bride goes to live
permanently with het husband. It is regarded as an essential of marriage.
. 6_1. The marri_age itself is marked by a ceremony which is accompanied by much
and feastmg and known as "ikwankwu." The girl's consent is symbolised
dunng the of the proceedings, when she is handed a cup of wine. If she consents
she takes a s1p and hands the cup to the bridegroom or to a member of his family. If
she does not consent she the cup to a of her own family. This .. I;Cremony
_not an of mamage. Its celebration may be postponed, particulatly...if -the
hri:dcgroom 1s poor and m such a case the marriage is said to be "private." "Any
ch1ldren born are regarded, however, as belonging to the real father.
(12. 1t is also the cu:->lom in this clan In a case where a man no male IRsue to
allow a daughter to beget children where she in the hope that will give
hirth to a son to carry on the family name. Any children horn hclong to the maternal
grand-p;uents anU are regarded in all rc!->pccls fully legitimate.
(13. Ukpor Villaxe.-ln the years immcdioHely hcforc the war the dowry in Ukpor
ranged from 20 to ,1:;30. blucatcu girls were then few but they were usually married
for a little more -30 to 50. Today, the dowry ranges from 100 to 160, but
the cost of marriage is further increased hy costly ceremonies. Tht. incidentals associa-
ted with the "tying of cloth" ("cghughu" and "akwa") were formerly not specified but
now they are becoming fixed and fixe<l high. A bridegroom is expected to give the
parents at this time 100 yams, I 00 cncoyams and a goat. The ceremony is regarded
as an essential of marriage and unless it is performed the husband would be ostracised
in the village. The Committee are informed that at a village meeting the decision
was taken that the ceremony must at all costs continue to be performed, but its cost
should be limited to 5.
64. In this area it i expected that the dowry should have been paid in full before
the bride goes to live in the husband's house. Until the payment i complete, the
marriage cannot be said to have taken place.
65. The dowry payments and marriage customs are similar to those of Ukpor in
other villages in the area, such as Nnewi, lhiala, lhembose, Ozubulu, Unubi and
Orifite. The ceremony of "tying the cloth" (egbugbu and akwa) obtains everywhere
and the general opinion seems to be that it should continue to be performed in its
essentials. Much importance is attached to the presentation by the husband to his
wife's parents at festival timer of gifts of yams, cocoyams and wine. These are presented
hoth bef01e and after marriage and the desire har been expressed to us that they should
continue, even though the dowry may be reduced.
66. In Ozubulu, the dowry varied in former times from 5 to 10 bags of cowries
and a bag was then rated at !. At that a 4 gallon tin of palm oil cost Is. The
amount of dowry, therefore, in terms of real value' did represent a considerable sum
in those days and from our enquiries generally at Nnewi it seems that the dowry now
paid on an illiterate when viewed in this way has scarcely risen at all. The view was
expressed to us that what is paid today is related to the general prosperity of the people.
67. We are informed that the Southern Onitsha District Councils proposed dowry
should be limited to 40, irrespective of the education of the girl. From our enquiries,
however, we find that there is a considerable demand that its limitation should be on
a sliding scale, depenc;ling on the education of the bride.
The Ogidi Area
68. In Ogidi, labour services were rendered in the traditional form of marriage but
a dowry payment of yams, etc., also took place. Later dowry came to be paid in cowries
and usually varied from 5 to 10 with 20 as an absolute maximum. Customary
tributes are given at festival times. Three principal feasts are celebrated annually
and on each occasion the man gives yams, fowls, kola and wine to the girl's parents.
Nowadays it is more usual to give 1 in lieu on each occasion. After marriage, gifts
on a smaller scale continue to be given at festival times throughout life.
69. An essential of marriage in Ogidi is the making of a small gift known as. the
"uku-itor." It is usually in the form of a token payment of 3d and its acceptance by the
girl signifies her consent. It is usually given after a substantial part of the dowry lw;
been paid and thereafter the bride goes to live permanently in the bridegroom's house.
In a t.'dSt' l''f diw'n.'t', tht' "uku-itor'' is refunded o1ftrr n'paymcnt of the dowry and
l<'l.'<'ptan<T th<' ,fic>lutic>n of the marria!!< A huband will not accept the
"uku-it<'r" until after the dowry .ha been refunded a if he did it would mean he does
not t1..' hts money hack.
Dow'! in Ogidi ran!!< tody from [60 to {150. Illiterate !!iris are married
for t>tl to [SO and 100 is usually expected on a Standard YI pas.
71. In dow'! ranged formerly from 10 to 20 bags of cowries. One bag
was then ,-aJued at 30s. There were also certain additional items such as goats which
""re g;,-,n in kind. Today it is only 20 to 50 where both parties are from NkweUe
though a stranger marrying an i\kwelle girl will be expected to pay a much higher
dow'! Customa'! presents at festi,al times are important. On each occasion a
man g;,es 2 kola nuts. a pot of \\ine and 2s 6d to the elders of his wife's family.
72. In Igban'om the father's share of dowry was formerly 10 and the mother's
share. which was paid separately was 20 big yarns (or 20s as its equivalent) and 240 seed
yarns (or 12s as its equivalent). l'\owadays mothers insist on their share being paid in
kind as 240 seed yams cost much more than 12s today.
73. In the case of child marriage, the mother was given 20 yams on the occasion
of each festival or "akwali." At the time the marriage is solemnised, 10 yams are given
to the father (the "Opupa-na-arna") and 20 to the mother (the "onine-ezi"). These
are treated as fonning part of the refundable dowry.
74. Marriage is marked by the "Obuaja" cetemony for which the bridegroom
must pro,ide 10 yarns, 2 kola nuts, a hen and the sum of Is 3d. The ceremony is
performed by a native doctor before a juju shrine and involves handing the Is 3d to
the girl. If she accepts it signifies her consent. Nowadays where the bride is a
Christian the ceremony is usually performed in her ab!lence, her oral consent beforehand
being accepted. Payment of dowry usually takes place after performartce of this
75. The father's share of dowry today ranges from 20 to 60 and here there is
not as yet any distinction for education.
76. In Umuoji dowry was originally paid in sticks of yarns and palm oil and later
cowries came to be used. Before the war it did not exceed 20 and in 1946 40 was
paid. Today as much as 70 may be paid on an illiterate, and on an educated girl it
ranges from 80 to 100.
77. A young man first seeks the consent of the girl by offering her a small gift
of 6d or Is. If she accepts he goes to see her father, taking with him a pot of palm wine.
The bridegroom is required to produce for the marriage ceremony amongst other
things, a pot of palm wine and 8 kola nuts. A prayer for the happiness of the people is
said over one of the kola nuts by the family head.
Awka Division
78. Marriage systems differ in different parts of Awka division, as the following
three examples show:
79. Umunze.-Traditionally, dowry was paid in labour services and later it came
to be paid in cowries. The maximum was 6 to 7 bags, though often only 2 to 3 bags
would be given where labour services were rendered as well. It was not fixed, but
varied with the beauty and accomplishments of the girl. 7 bags of cowries in those
day was equivalent to 2 to 3.
SO. \\'hen a marriage was the following ceremony took place!
The man was asked to pnnillc a cock, c1ght yams and a pot of wine and the girl's
motlwr wcd this. food to prepare a meal. cooking, the neck of the bird was
diYidl'd into two. The man took one half, lhpped it in oil anti salt and put it into the
mouth of his future father-in-law. The latter then did the same with the other half,
putting it into the mouth of his future son-in-law. In this way the consent of the
family was demonstrated. Afterwards, the dowry was paid.
81. In this area, cowries were reckonctl as follows: 6 cowries= 1 count, 20 counts= 1
lump, 40 lumps (4,800 cowries)= I hag. They continue to be used for the payment
of dowry up to 1943 when the current price was 16 bags equivalent to 8. It rose
steeply during the years immediately after the war owing to the influence of ex-service-
men and to the fact that the cost of foodstuffs was rising. People were getting more
money from the sale of their yams and there was more money about. Traders often
bid high for their wives and they have played their part in causing the upward trend.
Today, the dowry on illiterate girls is 100 and on those with an elementary education
150. There are few girls with higher qualification here.
82. In this area, five feasts are celebrated annually and on each occasion during
the betrothal period a suitor is required to provide the parents of his intended with a
number of gifts in kind, the cost of which may be as much as 5 to 6. Before the
bride goes to live permanently with her husband the feast of "okuka" is celebrated and
this may cost the bridegroom as much as IS. All are reckoned as part ofthe refundable
dowry. Christians do not usually celebrate these feasts though at Christmas and
Easter presents are generally given to the girl's father.
83. In this area it is not the custom for parents to make gifts of seed yams and
cooking utensils to their daughter when she goes to her new home. It is regarded as
the husband's responsibility to provide these, though frequently a few presents will
be given a short while after the marriage. In the case of a Christian marriage, however,
a father often gives his daughter such things as a sewing machine, an iron bed or a
84. If the marriage is dissolved, the former husband is required to take an oath
that he will not molest the wife. This takes the form of mixing fresh "egesi" leaves
with water and drinking the contents. The girl's father is required to take a similar
oath that he will do nothing to hinder the new marriage. Divorce in this area is not
common as it must be accompanied by a refund not only of the actual dowry paid
but also of everything spent on ceremonials during the betrothal period. All to-
gether, that is a tidy sum.
85. Child marriage does not occur here, though child betrothal was formerly
common. A man would select a girl for his son and would make periodical presents
of kola and other things to the girl's father. However, the arrangement was not consi-
dered ratified until the girl had given her consent.
86. The opinion has been expressed to us that the dowry should be reduced to 50
and should be irrespective of educational qualifications. Of this, the mother's share
should be 10.
87. Njikoka.-Dowry was formerly paid in cowries and in the early years of this
century it ranged from 10 to 20 bags, the cash equivaleot being 10 to 20. It was
not fixed. 3 goats formed part of the traditional dowry and are still given today. By
1919 it had come to he paid in cash and had risen to 60. The incidental expenses on
feasts at festival times were heavy. They are included as part of the refundable dowry
and in this era they brought the total to 100. On each occasion yams, fowls, fish and
J'Hhap ... ll l'\C" .. ft:u:t:;, art' l'l'ldlr.lft'd :, (_1) (ii)
"Onwa ._.,.!\, \tor the lather). (111) ll11 (l<'r tlw motlwr) ;tn<l \") ( lltil akwah (for
thf' Twt' Pr' them l'\lntHHlt' h' cdchralt'd .lftcr m.trn:l,!..:t'.
$S IS $\ In thl' Pt hiL'hl '}'he young
rrt"'S('nf$ tht f.lthtr "uh .1 snull llf lnlllll'\. li"ll.llh 2 ... (Id 01 ;:;, It Yarics frorn
to At s..nnt' titne .dso gins palm winl'. a l'llL'k anti kola. A
cup of wine otfrn.d to the !(irl b' ha bther. She tak,,- a >ip .111d it to the
man or his relative. ln this way her consent is The n1oney is
"'""""'n thr two families who feast together and pran-r> arc otrcrcd for the
couple. The dowry is then fixed.
S9. Dowry fell during the depression in tht ea rh l'l30,- wlhn 1 he range became
S to <40. During the last war it rose and has continued to ri>e until today when
12() is paid on an illiterate and [:120 to [200 on an educated girl. The older
men say these high figures are justified because first. young men no longer render
labour senices during the betrothal period and secondly, fathers put to considerable
expense over marriage feasts.
90. The mothers share of dowry is not fixed hut ,aries with the individual arrange-
ment. It is usually 10 to 20.
91. The question of dowry has been discussed by the :'\jikoka District Council
who consider it should be limited to a maximum of [:60, plus 3 goats. Of this, the
Council says, the mother's share should be 10. Certain petty expenses such as the
carrying of wine should continue as at present. There should be no distinction for the
and the presents gi,en to the bride by her parents should not be regarded as
92. Apata.-ln former times, child marriage was usmil in this area and a child
wife used to pay ,;sits to her husband's house. The was not however
ratified until after such a wife had reached the age of puberty. Then a meeting would
be arranged between the two families and the young man would be asked to produce
palm wine. A cup was handed to the girl who would take a sip and pass it to her intended,
thus showing her consent. Her father would then ask her to accompany the young
man home for a trial visit proper, which lasted 12 days. If on her return home she
said she wanted to marry the man, her father would send for him. He would come
with palm wine and the father would have a feast prepared. The daughter would be
called to eat with her future husband. Afterwards, she would accompany him home
and the man would start to pay the dowry. There was no fixed amount. He would
pay 1 to 2 bags of cowries yearly and during each yam season he made a present of
8 yams to the girl's father and 2 to her mother.
93. The essential element in marriage was the performance of the "izuafia" cere-
mony. The husband gave 3 goats and 5 pots of palm wine to the elders of his wife's
family and 1 bag of cowries and 1 pot of wine to her female relatives. The wife was
taken to the market where she was presented with a she-goat by her husband. Guns
were fired to mark the occasion. Afterwards, the female relatives led the wife to her's house.
94. About 1913 a change occurred in the payment of dowry. It then became the
custom for dowry to be fixed by negotiation between the two families, whereas previously
the young man had paid according to his ability and no definite amount was expected
from him. In that year the dowry ranged from 10 to 25 bags of cowries, depending
on the beauty and accomplishments of the girl. In 1936, 40 bags were currently paid.
hl' ust"d in \11-l.:;;, "hen it rPSe to l10. Tmhty it is fJ0 to 90 for an
,;',1 :;: .
l'O$lS a about lt is the lor a husband to one lowl to htB cadt \Tar for as long ;ts the
lJ5. Jt has l)l'c.n tn m dowry he rcdu.ccd to.a. flat rate .of
20, irnspcctivc of l'llucatio
,d qualdtctttons, the 3 goats to he m <Hlc.ltlUin to thts.
Nsukka Division
96. The down toda\' ,arics from clan to c\,m. In smnc areas it is as high as HO
for :m illiter;.ltc girl. and .(tOO for otH' who has passed Standard Vl.
97. In Adaha the father's shatT of dowry was originally 3 cows, or in the case of a
girl of high social standing who came to her house bedecked ,-..ith ivory
ornaments, 4 cows.. I.atcr money came to he used mstead of cows and the accepted
values were as follows; \st cow J.:7 lOs lid, 2nd cow :6 15s OJ and 3rd cow 5 I Ss Od
The mother's sh:arc ("lhcnnc") was paid i.n yams anU later a payment of
50s came to be Jcccptcd. (As a standanl of companson, a goat was then valued at 1Ss).
98. The performance of manual scniccs anU the presentation of gifts of palm wine
and other things at festival times, both before and a[ter marriage also played their part.
Nowadays these gi[ts often take the form of money and young men living away from
home find it a burden to make periodical remittances to their wives' parents.
99. In the village of lgga, the people have agreed to reduce dowry to 30, 13
being to the father and 7 to the mother.
Awgu Division
100. After the war dowry rose to 80 to 100 but many attempts have been
made to curtail it to about 20 to 40. These have shown that where no restrictions
were placed on the dissolution of marriage, it can be fixed too low. The divorce rate
soars and marriage has little stability.
101. Dowry in Udi is not particularly high, only 25 to 40 being paid on an
illiterate, though that on a literate may be as high as 80. The cost of marriage feasts,
(in Nkanu clan they are four in number) is however high.
Orlu Division
102. Traditionally dowry was paid in cows or goats. It was never fixed and varied
according to the individual arrangement. It ranged from I to 2 cows or 3 to 8 goat.
Sometimes a dane gun was given. Later cowries were used and were reckoned as
follows:-6 cowries=) count, 10 counts=! ukwu, 400 ukwus=l bag. The maximum
paid was 20 bags, having a value of 10. The mother's share out of this was about
2 bags. Money was first used about 1916, though cowries were still used for some time
after this. Dowry ranged then from 5 to 12 or 14 as the absolute ma.ximum.
There was no change until 1937 when it started to rise and by I 940 it was 20 to 30.
In 1945 it was 40 to 50. Today it ranges from 80 to 200 and occasionally as much
as 300 is paid. The influence of ex-servicemen, the rising prices paid for palm
produce and the coming into vogue of women's education have all played their part in
the upward trend. The beauty and character of the girl are taken into accoun,t in fixing
the dowry, as well as her educational qualifications. Sometimes as much is paid on
the head of a beautiful illiterate as on that of a less attractive educated girl, though gene-
rally literacy adds about 50.
. lttt Rn' inlormc."d that al:ttr

all tl_w bridal pre:-:cnt:-:., parents are left

",th \'t'f:'' hHir from tht panl. Of what nmo11n:o:. the. _11\otlll'r rccei\'CS about on_
third. Thr molhrr dcl('s neci\'( many prescnt:-o from the. bridegroom apaf!
from thr do"-ry. Thr ('(\Sf of expenses is high.
104. is tir:-:.t contr:1ctcd in the following way: After ohto1ining the consen
of tht- th< young man approach<'' her father with a gift of some wine. After tht
,_;ne has hern dnmk thr young man rc.turns to his home and il father approves

tht match. he will ask his daughter to the man a trial visit. Thts lasts from 8 toll
days. she returns horn,. she wdl he asked by her lather tf she hkes the young
man and tf her answer IS yes .. he wdl he asked to bnng more mne and the relatives
"ill be summoned. The girl IS then sent back for a second \isit, longer than the fit'Sl.
If. on her return she still wishes to marry him he will be called for settlement of the
dowry. He "ill send several gallons of wine and the. rclati,es of hoth families Will
assemble. The matte is then settled. Dowry is patd m mstahnents and when all has
been paid, the father has a feast prepared, to which many are invited to celebrate the
105. \\'e understand the DiYisional Native Authority would like the following
scale adopted:
Illiterate girls
Semi-literate (Up to Std. VI) ...
Standard VI pass and over
106. The Orlu Tax-payers Association, however, would like a flat rate of 40
irTeSpective of educational qualifications. In Okwudor village there has been an
unofficial limitation of 30 since 1949. When this was imposed the surrounding
villages were approached by Okwudor people and asked if they too would impose
a similar limitation. They did not agree and so men from other villages are expected
to pay [4{) when they marry Okwudor girls.
107. The question of limiting dowry in Orlu was first mooted in 1952 and in the
following year the matter was discussed by all the six group councils who submitted
their recommendations to the divisional Native Authority. All advocated a sliding
scale, depending on the education of the girl being married. However, we understand
the matter was shelved when it first received the attention of the Regional Government.
Okigwi Division
108. There are 13 clans in Okigwi division and the marriage customs and amount
of dowry currently paid vary from clan to clan.
109. Uturu Clan.-Traditionally dowry was paid in goats and varied from 5 to 12.
In addition, there were a number of ceremonies performed during the betrothal period
and on occasion of the celebration of each, the young man was required to make certain
gifts in kind. Eight ceremonies were celebrated in the course of a year and they were
repeated usually for three years before marriage took place.
They were as follows:-
(i) "Gbudugbu" visiting the market.
(it) "lba-ahia" present to the mother-10 yams, salt, wine, a cock and
10 rods. ,
(iii) "!tu-Aka" ... present to the father-as for "lba-ahia."

(or present to the father of 100 sce<l yam, salts, a he-goat

and '"in c.
''.\chicha" presents to the mother of 10 yarns, wine, Aalt and 10 rods.
(n') "lzn".. pn:sents tn the father-S hig yam, a cock, a pot of
wine, kola, salt, pepper and tobacco.
(7ii) "Jkcji" rn,;cnt to the father -5 hig yams and a pot of wine.
(n'ii) "Ekc-iho-ama" prcscnb to the mother- I yam, salt and 8 bundles of
40 rods were then cqui,alcnt to a and were interchangeable. Later cowries
came to he used and were reckoned as follows:-
(l cov .. -rics :1 count.
10 cuunts- I ukwu.
14 ukwus I rod.
110. lf the girl was not rea<ly for marriage at the end of three years, presents
continued to he given on a reduced
Ill. Coins were not in universal use until 1940, when dowry ranged from 6 to 10.
It started to rise in 1943 owing to the influence of servicemen and by 1945, 15 was
being paid. In 1947, it was 50. The upward trend was to a large extent due to the
rising cost of living. When a divorce occurred everythmg spent was calculated and
refunded, the refund being generally made in money. Today it is about 60 on an
illiterate an<l up to 100 on a literate.
112. The ceremonies listed above are still performed today, though more usually
they take the form of a small gift of cash. The wine is, however, always given.
113. The presents given to a bride by her parents include 800 yams, cooking pots,
dresses, an umbrella, etc. They are valued at about 10.
114. Mba-ama Clan.-Traditionally dowry was paid in cows. Later cowries came
to be used when it became fixed at 2 large baskets.
liS. Marriage is contracted the following way: Mter the young man has paid
the fee for "Opening the Gate," the girl is sent to his home for a four-day trial visit.
On her return the man sends her a calabash of wine. If the parents do not accept
him as their future son-in-law, the calabash is returned immediately by a messenger.
If they do accept him, it is returned the following day by a relative of the family.
In this case, some days later a woman from the man's family is sent to bring the girl for
a second visit. This lasts 8 days. During this period she is lavishly entertained and
on her return to her own home presents of wine, soap, firewood, a large fish, dresses and
2 in cash accompany her. She also receives presents of coco-nuts, etc. from the young
man's family. At this time the man gives a present of 3-4 to the !llOther.
This is spent on refreshments. Thereafter, visits may be paid at any time at will. The
dowry is now fixed. Later the bridegroom gives a present to the bride known as "Ijedi,"
which is valued at about 10. Other customary presents amount to 20.
116. Today, dowry ranges from 60 to 80 on an illiterate and 100 to 120 on a
semi-literate. A Standard VI girl straight from school may be married for 140 to 150,
while two years later her dowry may be 200. Girls with secondary education are
married for 240 to 250. In addition, much is spent on customary presents and the
ceremony of "opening the gate" may cost a young man 12 to 15. The mother's
share of dowry is today 10 to 15. She has always received a small share. If the
parents are separated at the time of marriage the groom's relatives will decide what is to
be paid to the mother.
. 117. I:J,i,,- ('/an. -Tlw of Jowry now obtaining arc follows: Illiterate
.l.llll. Standard \'1 [l.'(l I<' [200. Stc-ondary qualifications [250 to .100. The cus.
tOnl3t)" rrt'St'lltS are particularly h1gh and amount to 80.
liS. Oboro C/mr.--Dowry was formerly paid in cowries, which were reckoned as
6 l'OWries 1 count.
60 counts = 1 ola.
The dowr..- was 1,00(.) olas. An ola is now rated at 6d. Formcrlv a cow cost 500
olas. It i> no,;. 100 to J) Ill on an illiterate and [150 to [160 on a gi.rl with Standard
\'!. Customary pre>ents claim as much as 80.
119. l. gboma Clan.-ln 1935 dow'! was only 13, of which the mother's share was
3. Custom"') present> claimed 1 !Os Od. It is now 110 for an illiterate and 200
for a Standard \"! girl. Customary presents amount to 80.
120. This is an area where there are many "Osu" or cult slaves. If an "Osu" aspires
to marT) a free-born "i\wafor" he will pay about double the normal dowry.
121. lsu Oclri Clan.-Traditionally, there was nothing fixed by way of dowry which
was paid largely in labour senices. As little as two fowls may be The husband
bears the burial expenses of his wife's family and much importance IS attached to this.
Child marriage was formerly practised and it still occurs today. A girl may be married
even from the day she is born.
122. Today dowry is about 90 to 100. There is no difference for the educated.
It is di'ided into two parts:-
(i) "Aku-obu" or father's share, and
(ii) "Epete" or mother's share.
Even today, money is not acceptable to mothers of this clan and they always insist on
the Epete being paid in kind.
123. Aro-Ndizuogu C/an.-Previously dowry was paid in cowries and was about
9 to 10 bags. At that time a bag of cowries would purchase 2 goats. Today an iUiterate
is married for 90 to 100 and a Standard VI pass for double this amount. Traditionally
there were many customary presents but today most of these have been computed into
money and are included in the main dowry. A goat and wine are always given separately.
124. Limiting dO'IJJ1'y.-There is a widespread demand in this division that dowry
should be reduced and the demand is always for a sliding scale, depending ori educa-
tional qualifications.
125. Tire Etiti Native Authority representing Ehite, Ugboma and Oboro Clans
recommends the following:-

Illiterates ... ... 30
Semi-literate... ... 40
Standard VI and upwards .. . 60
In addition, petty expenses should be limited to 5 and should be refundable.
12(1. 'l'lll' \lh:mo :"\:1tin:
]I\ iterates
Standard VI ..
J .owcr elementary ccrtific;'ltc
Higher elementary certificate
plus J:S extra for wine omd other !\!ati\-c customs.
127. The Ugiri Clan Council recommends:-
and Standard Six ...
the dowry to include all petty expenses.

128. Bende division comprises a number of clans, which are grouped together
into four federations:
(i) EluEiu.
(ii) Ala.
(iii) Odida Anyanwu.
(iv) Owuwa Anyanwu.
129. In the first three, conditions are somewhat sim'ilar and fairly typical
of the Ibo area in general. But in Owuwa Anyanwu they are very different. The
people of this area, although Ibo-speaking, have a marriage system very different from
the tribe as a whole. The dowry currently paid is comparatively low and inheritance
is mainly from the mother's family.
130. The Elu Elu Federation.-This consists of nine clan' and the dowry and the
customary presents vary from clan to clan. Formerly, dowry was paid in brass rods.
This is an area where child marriage is common and all presents given during the period
of child betrothal are treated as refundable. Labour services are important and they
are calculated as part of the refundable dowry. If a young man is working away from
home and is not in a position to render such services himself, they are generally rendered
for him by his brother or other relative.
131. The amount of dowry has risen considerably since the days when brass rods
were used. It started to rise slowly after the years of depression in the early 1930s
and during and since the war it has risen more steeply. Ex-servicemen are largely
blamed for this. Today there is a big difference between the dowry on the illiterate
and educated. The following figures do not include the cost of the wine given when
marriage is contracted, the value of manual services or the presents given to the bride
by the bridegroom after the preliminary visit to his house.
lmmmt ptJid
l)rcsrnt /)mcry
Clmt in hrms rOll
-------- -------- ----- ------
[ s d [ s d
Bmdr IS u
(I 30
Oruitem s 0
l'muhu ... 5 0
lgbe, 3 0 0 IS
ltm 3 10
() 30 0
:\Ja,i ... 3 10 0
12 10

1 10 0 15 0
L"mu-lmenyi ... 20 0 0 60 0
60-170 0
!tu 7 0 0 60 0
120 0
--l32. -n;-.- been fully and the Federal
:\ati,e Authority as a whole. The various clan councils first put up their proposals as
to what thy would like dowry to be limited to. Only two of them that
should be paid for the educated and when later a full meeting of the
was held to discuss the matter it was decided that these proposals were bad m pnnclple
and that the creation of a social caste between the educated and the uneducated was
something to be avoided at all costs. The Native Authority decided that should
be limited by legislation to a maximum of 15. This does not include expenditure .on
customary presents, wine and manual services during courtship, the Native
Authority said, should continue as usual. The mother's share of dowry IS about one-
133. The Ala Federation.-Traditionally dowry was paid entirely in
Later cowries were used and afterwards it came to be paid in manillas. Ch1ld
occurs in this area, though it is not unusual for a man to be disappointed after giVIng
pn::aents for a number of years in respect of his child wife.
134. The equivalent in cash of the amount paid during the manilla era was 10
15. Now 35 to 40 is paid on an illiterate and 60 to 120 on a literate. This
includes petty expences. The want the upper limit to be fixed at 30
for an illiterate and 60 on a literate.
135. Today, the question of choice in the case of an educated girl lies very largely
with the girl herself, though in the case of an illiterate, the parents' wishes may prevail.
136. The Odida Anyanwu of a number of clans. Conditions
differ slightly from clan to clan and as the matter has not been considered by the Federa-
tion as a whole, we give particulars of a few clans:-
137. Ubakala C/an.-Traditionally dowry was paid in labour services and gifts
of tumbo wine. Afterwards cowries and later manillas were used. During the manilla
era dowry never exceeded 15 though from 3 to 8 was more generally paid. It rose
alightly during the war years and went up steeply when the soldiers returned from
138. The question of fixing dowry has been considered by the Ubakala Clan
Council, who hav decreed it should be as follows: on an illiterate 35, of which the
father ohould receive 25 and the mother 10;.on a girl with Standard VI pass, 100,
of which the father should receive 70 and the mother 30.
I.''J I a hea\y premium for education which the council says is
/11r t\\o reasons. Firs.t. girls \\ho h<l\'C received some professional training
tJ-.oually working after marriage, much to their hushanUs' advantage. Secondly
arc not willing today to help their parents-in-law as they were in former timee.
llowcn:r . ...;inn: arriving at this Jec1sion the Council has had second thoughts and wonders
''it ha' not fixed the dowry on the educated heyond the means of the ordinary man.
'I he Council further says that inter-clan and mtcr-tribal marriages are to be encouraged
and if there is a uniform dowry throughout the whole Region they will be greatly
140. Traditionally, the question of choice depended ultimately with the parents
and this still ohtains today. At time when the dowry is paid, the suitor gives feur
bottles of gin, one to the father, one to the mother, one to the male relatives and one to
the female relati,cs. The acceptance of this drink ratifies the family's consent. The
suitor also pays a token fee of Ss for settling the dowry.
141. Ohulm Clan.-Before the war, dowry ranged from 10 to 15. It is now 30
on an illiterate, plus 5 for customary presents and 80 to 100 on a literate girl. In
the latter case, there is nothing specified for petty expenses. The mother's share ia
fixed at 10.
142. !be/m Clan. Formerly dowry was paid in cowries, having a cash equivalent of
1 to 3. Later manillas came to be used and the amount rose. They were rated at
six to the shilling. During this era it did not exceed 8. Manillas continued to be
used up to 1944, though currency had been introduced before this. After the war
it rose steeply and the ex-servicemen are held largely responsible for this. The amount
currently paid ranges from 30 to 120. Educational qualificatiom are taken into
account and an illiterate girl is not usually married for more than 60. We understand
the people would like dowry to be limited to 20, irrespective of education plus 5
petty expenses which should form part of the refundable dowry.
143. The mother's share at present is of the order of one quarter of the amount
144. Formerly the question of choice lay with the girl, though the parents had the
final say. Nowadays they rarely withhold their consent.
145. O!IJkoro Clan.-Formerly cowries were used but it later came to be fixed at
120 manillas which were equivalent to 10. Manillas were still used up to 19# when
the dowry was about 20, irrespective of education. It rose in 1949 and the increasing
cost of living is held largely responsible for this. Today, the dowry on an illiterate is
35, of which the mother's share is 12 and on a girl with Standard VI or a higher
qualification it is 80 to 100, of which the mother's share is 17.
146. Umuopara Clan.-In early times cowries were used, having a value of 10
and labour services were rendered in addition. In 1920 dowry was 60 manillas, valued
at 12. Currency was first used in 1930, when it ranged from 10 to 20, there being
then no difference for the educated. Today, dowry on an illiterate is about 60 and
on a girl with Standard VI 80 to 120. The mother's share in each case is one quarter
of the amount paid. It rose in 1945 due to the influence of ex-servicemen and the high
cost of living, when the current amounts began to be paid. Limitation to the foUowing
scale has been suggested to us:-

Illiterate girls .. . 35 maximum (including petty expenses)
Standard IV-VI ... 55 maximum (including petty expenses)
CoUege trained . . . 65 maximum (including petty expenses)
The mother's share in each case to be one quarter.
J'hr ( fn_nlnfCII :\s :Jin:td_\" pnir_lll'd OUt _thl" pe-ople ?f thia
ana though l'Pihhtums ddltTt'_nt frn111 !" lbo
ctHII\tn to llw tht" cl11l_d_rcn do mhcra th.m_cs lrtHH thtn latlur. thtlll_!..!h mlll'nl:llll"l' 1s m;ttnl_llll'al. Most farm ..
l:lnd is ht'ld and is_ 011 although if
man dt;lrctl an art:t nf '1q . .:m and staktd Ius cl:um to 11 such land passes on his
dinct to Still:-:..
1-4-S. In, itw tlf till' in the when t_hc amount of dowry snared in rcCl'llt where 1herc 1s a hag dlllcn:ncc tor thl it
is indc:cd surprisin).! to rind that in lh_is dowry is Jow, is r;!rl'ly
for till' educ:Htd anJ all ttw usual soclalcnls arc ahscnt. r\'cathcr Lhe nsc rn cost
of li,inc:
wr the intlulncc of the returning l'x-scrviccmcn nor th<" cost of has
the marria!!<' system which remains today fundamentally the same as In the
traditional fornl.
149. As in the other Federations, there arc several clans: -Ahiriha ('[an: Traditionally
dowry was paid in labour services a nU tu mho wine. brass rolls carnc to used
when it was fixed at 140. A rod was valued at 6d whtch makes the dowry equtvalent
to 3 lOs Od. Today, the amount actually paid in cash together with all incidentals is
fixed at 6 Ss 6d.
150. After the consent and the parent's consent, the young man
approaches the family with wine and meat valued at 2s and in this way the engagement '
is formallv announced. If he is so inclined, he might give a bottle of whtsky, but for
the purpOses of reckoning dowry the cost is still 2s. The next step is to perform the
ceremom of "l\kpola Ulo" which involves giving the sum of 2s 6d to the parents of the
girl. the courtship period the young man may take over the cost of educating
the girl if the parents cannot afford to do this and have no objection to the proposal,
but this and other services rendered are not taken into account in reckoning the refund-
able dowl').
ISI. During this period the young man performs the ceremony of the "Mai
Ulonta" which involves the presentation of palm wine and meat to the father, the
mother, the head of the father's family and the head 9f the mother's family. Each is
valued at Ss (total 1). He is further obliged to give token presents of Is to the girl's
parents three times a year at "lriama" (July), the New Yam Festival (September) and
"lgwamang" (December) for as long as the engagement lasts. If this is for three years
the cost will thus be 9s. In the final year of the engagement, the "Ewu Nso" ceremony
is performed, which costs the young man 1 2s Od and a further present of wine and
meat is made to the relatives to announce the date of the wedding. This is known as
the "Mai ikwunibe" and is again valued at Ss. The actual dowry is 2 !Ss Od for a
farmer and 3 Ss Od for a trader or civil servant. One might conclude this is because
trader and civil servants are regarded as amongst the more weo.lthy members of the
community, but such is not the case. A farmer is expected to render certain labour
services during the betrothal period, and hence the difference.
IS2. The actual marriage ceremonies are many and varied and depend on the social
status of the families involved. They are not included as part of the refundable dowry.
The two families meet shortly after the celebrations and take stock of the total amount
paid. These figures are recorded in a "contract of marriage" which is signed by both
1 In n:cent years the tendency has been creeping in for parent to demand a
.dowry on th_c1r educated daughters, hut no case is known where more than 15
dowry of IOR for every surviving
154. lt is surprising to find that strangers pay exactly the same as natives of the
do not allow their daughters to he taken away permanently
155. We arc informed that in spite of the fact that more is not paid for the
educated, parents do educate thc_r daughters 10 to enhance their prestige and to
secure more hghly educated sons-m-law_ lmmorahty,. rare and prostitution is unknown
in this area. lt is only discouraged by social ostracism but heavy penalties are
exacted to redress the InJured party and young men who tamper with virgins are com-
pelled to marry them. Marriage for both men and women generally takes place early
and any bachelors and spinsters who remain as a minority in their age-grade are shunned.
15(>. It is not surprising to learn, therefore that the Abiribas are happy about their
marriage customs and desire no change.
157: In Nkporo Clan, the dowry paid is 5, though it may be paid
entirely m labour serv1ccs. .In Ohafia 1t 1s up to 10 on an illiterate and up to 15 on a
girl with elementary educatiO.n, th?ugh as httle as 1 may be paid on even a college
trained girl. In Akanu Clan, 1t vanes from 1 to 10 on an illiterate and never ellceeda
20, however high the educational qualification. Nowhere in Owuwa-Anyanwu Fede-
ration is there any desire for change.
Aba Division
158. The Ngwa Clan.-Traditionally, dowry was paid either in labour services or
in yams. Later manillas came to be used and it was fixed at 2,800, which, at 6 to the
shilling, is approximately equal to 25. Out of this, the mother received 5 and [.3 or
[.4 went to the relatives. The use of manillas did not cease finally until 1948. Dowry
rose when the ex-servicemen returned in 1946 and 60 to 90 became current for the
olliterates, while as much as [.120 was paid for the educated. These figures obtain
today. If the dowry is 90, the father's share would probably be about 60, while the
mother receives 20 and the remaining 10 goes to the relatives and to petty expenses.
159. Traditionally, the young man made his intentions known to the girl's father
by presenting him with a bottle of gin (valued at 8 manillas) and a jar of "tumbo" (valued
at 2 manillas). Nowadays, these are generally converted to money. Later the relatives
were summoned and the suitor was asked to produce 2 bottles of gin and 2 jars of "tumbo"
{cost, 20 manillas). A cup of wine was handed to the girl, who took a sip and handed
it to the young man. In this way, her consent received outward manifestation. The
man is then required to pay the consent fee di" I? day varies frf!m [.2 to
10. Child betrothal was formerly common, dunng wh1ch penod labour 'SerYJces were
rendered. These were not treated as part of the refundable dowry. As from 1946,
marriage has usually been accompanied by a written agreement.
160. Today divorce is common, while prior to 1946 it was comparatively rare_
This is due to the fact that a young man finds it cheaper to entice away another man's
wife than to marry an unmarried girl. It is the practice to grant divorce as soon as [.20
has been deposited either in a Native Court or with a village elder. The balance is
treated as "payable when able" and the onus of provi!lg that. the. original dowry did
in fact exceed [.20 is left to the former husband. Th1s practice IS a legacy from the
days of "Warrant Chiefs" who first imposed the rule.
If\ I Tll1" th""" Ruul I )istrifl l 'cmnlil!4 an- \'''tml't"'rrHtl uhnut thr hi_l(h
an,t thr J'lt'\illr"lhT ,,1 dnclh't" Knd rt"l'f'ntly hrld a mn:t:t ntrctn){_ tu the
nattrr. h.,,. ,lnadf'\t ''' marriJlt"'. intd the arr.u ut their,
and thr ,"\U1umtt h(cn With 11 tlratt ot what thr;.o prnpoHt". I he lll&in
J,>\\n ish> tw lnmr-c-.1 h ,(}0 ol wh,,h {.!ll i thr ftlwr'o h:ort :ond tO tht mothtr'a
aharT. l'"th '''ll("n:rrocs tu-.: ltl l\t:" lim11t-d hl 5 and thr rulr!4. to whmn they shall
t-r l"'"l. Th" ore trr.ltrd as 1'"'1 ,f thr nfuthlahlc duwry. Th<'\' :tloo otipulatt that
,on"'" n,.,. l\C" ,:r.tnf\"'\lt\1\ly l'tl11rt auut thr totnl nrnuunt paid
,i"" n. in,in,lin.: prll\' rxJ'<'nOt"tl. l1:1s l>r<"n nl thr Rul'lll lliotrict Council
()lth..;_ In tlu rrs1-r.'l. thr mlr :m nut intrndrd tu hr rrtro.p<"ctiw of their
and th<-\' "'ipulatr that in thr ,,f a marri"ll"' contr:tctrd hdnrC' thr <"oming into
OJ'f'r&tic>n uf thr nolrs. thr actual mllmt uf dowry paid, indudin,.-: prtty rnu91
1\f' drp<,.itrd. In this.,. .. thr Council hut"'" to cut thr dic>rcr nll<'.
l!ll. 1'1" .41>.1 l'rl>ft />isrnc"l ( 'ouncil. has <'tm<i,lrred th< 'lll<'stin of limiting
dt>wry an,t it should he lixrd :1t [..15, mdudinl{ ptlt_v exp<nscs, as has beei\
di.t.-..1 h thr thrr<" Rural lliotri,t In \'i<"w of th<" fact that the population
of th<" "'":ns.hip is lary.:rh nl.<mupulitnn :nul th<" majority marry ontsicl<' its borders tht
Council di,l ou>t at tirst prnp<l9r to f..rmulatr its own marriall" rul<"s. We understand,
that th<" manN will ""-'t'i>'t' fun her <'tmsidrration.
tf\..1. n, .4JYJ ('/..,. Fom><"rly dowry pnicl in monilias to tht' value of 25.
Out nf thisthr bth<-r rr.'t'i\T<I [15 and thr mothrr [.10. lt later fdl tu 1,200 manillas,
to [.Ill. Thr f.rhrr rr.'t"i>'<'<l SOO and the mother 400. Tht' n<e of manillas
did not tinally <'t"asr until Tuday th<" dowry is [.!>ll to for an illiterate girl
and up to 100 f..r liter.rr. in this clan rducated nrt' few in numhel-.
IM. Child marria,.-:c.- was pra,tisrd in former times and still O<'<'tlrs today. All
and before the girl comes to live in het
lbS. The is assm'iatrd with marrial!" in this clan. The young
man is called to a gatherinl',' of the family snd he brinll" with him 8 kola nuts, 8 jan of
''tumbo." a bonlr of gin, a head of tobacco and halfabonleof snutf. The consent of the
family to the is syn>bolised in thr breaking of the kola. A cup of wine ia
handed to thr girl, who will taste it and pass it to the bridegroom. Dowry may be paid
eitber or aftr.r thr
lbb. The 1'\ative Authority wishes to limit dowry to 40, of which 20 is to go to
thr father, 15to thr mother and 5 to the bride.
Owerrl DiviaiGD
167. Owuri Division consists of six clans and marriage customs differ slightly from
clu to du. Cowries were formerly used Owerri Division and the method ol
c:alculati11g the8e may of interest :
6 co'l!l'lies lai ego or I count.
10 lai rg.> 1 ukwu (60 cowries).
20 ultwu = I nnu ego (1,200 cowries).
20 ego = I Oau nnu ego (24,000 CO\\'lies) or 1 bag.
10 Ogu nnu = I Ohu nnu ola.
'I1I1II "Ohu nnu ala" was the dOwt)'.
168. Or.u. C .... -Fonnuly cowries were used. The dowry was fixed at 10 bap,
::. C:..:::.

hare wa 3. In a.J.Jition, cuatomary preaen!B were given to the f h h' h Id
,nst 11hout L) mother, coatinM ahout 1 Ol Thua the m=ed
"'"". L.l H lOs 0_.1. I he mftuencc of dunng and after the war cauaed do
tn the war the father a share to [.25 and the mother's to 10.
wao httlc chan)(e on the cuatomnry presents gtven. The cost of gett" .1 d
thi ra was thus about 38 lOs 0.1. The following figures now marne unng
Uneducated: Father's share
Mother's share
Cutomary presents
Stnn.lnr.J Six an.J upwards:
Father's share up to
Mother's share up to
Customary presents

... 40
... 25
... 25
... [.90
... 100
... 25
... 25
169. Child marriage occurred and the parents of a boy would give preaenta to the
parents of a p;irl whom they had in view for their son's future wife. However, the girl
had to give her consent when she came of age. If she refused the marriage, everything
giwn n presents was refunded.
I 70. 'I 'he presents which a bride receives on going to her new home are stipulat.:d
hy custom and follow a definite scale. The father gives a dog, a hoe, and a matchet, etc.
The mother gives yarns of various kinds, kitchen materials, golltS or fowls.
171. At the birth of the first child, the husband is required to make certain gifts to
hie wife's father and mother and to the youths. All are laid down by custom.
172. Mba ltoli lketlun. Clan.-Fonnerly dowry was paid in cowries and the fathcl''a
share was equivalent to 12 lOa Od. The mother's share was equal to half that of the
fnther. Sometimes it was paid in cows and 2 cows would cover both the lilthar's and
the mother's share. Money came to be uoed iD 1918 wheD the dowry- 12 lO.Aid.
(This included both the father's and the mother's share).
173. Dowry started to rise in 1940 and by 1945 it had reached 20 to lJ.S. Today
it is 80 to 85 for an illiterate and over J:lOO for a literate. There are cases where as
much as 145 has been paid. Child llliii1'iage oa:um:d, but it is now dying out.
174. Ngor Okp<Jill Clslo.-Fonnerly cowries were uoed. Tbe father's share was
"ohu nnu ola" and the mother's share was "DDu ola ise," or ooe quarter of that of tlae
father. Money replaced cowries iD 1919 when dowry WIIS 12 lOs Od. The
share was 10 and the mother's J:2 10s Od. As iD Mba ltoli lkeduru ClaD, 2 cows might
be given as the total dowry. It started to rise iD 1940 and today it ranges from l."!J to
100 and occasionally over ,t;IOO is paid. Child marriage occurred. ABy dot!'-es g.t-
in respect of a child wife were not ft8Vdecl as refuodable, though any ->' gtVCD was.
175. Ogula Clslo.-Up to the time of the First World War dowry was genera!fY
=! ....
The mother's share was "Ohu iheasaa" (about l,3 lOs Od or GDO tbird ofthefatiou'sat.e)..
The use of cowries disappeared abeut 1933 wheo tbe cumtRt price was ,CIS (tidtlr'a
Owai E
itioD tiJOiilu of ... daa
; were formaiy Uled tbr(
' = &iepo
f) z:: 1 ubru (
= lnnuec
JD = IOann
nueco = 1 O h ~ . -
....... .,. ~
,m.,.... .{1 .(3). . lt rost-aftrr the last war to 1:>0 to SO and today it ;
up to {15tl. In th.s dn thrn .s no dt'lini!t' distimtion for thr literatr ami as much
llll 150 ma\' I'<' paul ''"an llhtrrate.
171:>. Child m:1rria!!'' ,,..,urrTd it was nevtr ratified until the J::irl had reached
the &!!\-' of dt"<.i,lin!= for htrsdf. .\nv presents may or may not he regarded
l"<'fundabk. a,,ording tn tht inJi,idual
I i7. Customary drink to tht value of 3 is gi,en at the time the dowry is settled
and this is refundahlt. Other ]>etty expenses come to 5.
Ohoh<l C/arr.-C'owries were used formerly, the cash equivalent of the father's
Mal"<' .(10 and the mother's share [5. The use of cowries disappeared in 19)8
when the dowry was 25 (father's share 20 and mother's share 5). lt rose in 1946
when 40 to [60 came to he paid on an illiterate and up to 100 on a hterate. The
same obtains toda\. The mother's share is not fixed, but vanes accordmg to the
indi,idual arrangement. lt is of the order of 20.
Ii9. Child marriage was formerly prJctised, but is now dying out.
180. :\fbaisr Clmr.-ln this clan there is now a ''ery heavy premium for education.
The do\\TV on illiterates ranges from 80 to 120, on semi-literates from 150 to !60
and on a girl \\;th Standard \'1 200 or more. Girls with secondary qualifications are
not usually married for less than 250. The mother's -:aries. If the dowry
is [,80 it may be 20; if 200, it may be 50. The amounts pa1d m thts clan are higher
than in any other clan in the di\'ision and there is some evidence to show that they rose in
this area first and the rise in other clans was to some extent due to the influence from this
181. Generally, the amount spent on petty expenses in all clans is high.
182. Limiting DCJfD1)1.-The people of Owerri division have been concerned about
die soaring dowry for some time. The Oratta Native Authority has laid down the scale
of customary presents, the value of which is as follows:-
To the father and elders ...
To the youths
To the mother ...
s d
2 2 0
0 13 10
3 2 0
... 5 17 10
183. The Native Authority has further stipulated the presents which a bride
should expect from her mother. These are valued at 6 Is 6d, while those from the
father come to 4 l'k Od. We note from the draft "Marriage and divorce rules" which
have been prepared, that the father is not entitled to receive the normal customary
presents payable to him if his daughter is proved to the satisfaction of the village elders
to be "Non virgo intacta," The rules contain a further provision that it shall be a
punishable offence to harbour a married lady for more than 24 hours. The limitation of
dowry haa been discussed by all six Native Authorities, and the following are their
{, {, l.,
Mbaise: Illiterates .. . 40 Sttndard VI... 60 Secondary 80
Mba ltoli: I_lliterates .. . 40 Standard VI... 60 Secondary 80
lkeduru: Illiterates .. . 40 Standard VI... 60 Secondary 80
Oratta: 30 for all girls; the father to receive 20 and the mother 10.
'\ [311 for all girls; the father to receive 20 and the mother L 10.
Ohoba: L..'O fnr all girls; the lather to receive 20 and the mother 10.
( lguta: [20 for illiterate [30 for educated girls.
I H4. A general meeting was held on 11th September, IIJ54, which was attended
hy ,dJOut .100 people, including representatives from all Native Authorities and the six
:'llrmhe., of the llouse of Assembly who represent the division. It was decided that
a uniform Uowry shouiJ operate throughout the division, to facilitate inter-clan marriage&
and the limit decided upon was 30, irrespective of educational qualifications. It
was further decided that petty expenses should be limited to 5 while the presents
ginn to the bride by her parents should he left to the financial means of the parents.
It is understood that this limitation was not at first welcomed by the representatives from
Mbaise and Mba Itoli lkeduru.
Ahoada Division
185. Jkwerre Cla11.-Formerly dowry was paid in manillas in Ikwerre Clan and
was fixed at 2,400, equivalent to 24. In addition, four bottles of gin, valued at 6s a
bottle were given. Three of these went to the bride's family and the fourth to the
people who gathered to settle the dowry. The manillas were paid by instalments;
it was regarded as anti-custom to pay all at once. When the bride went to her new
home she was given presents of yams and cocoyams, cooking pots and goats by her
parents and in addition two slaves were sometimes given. If divorce occurred, the
slaves, together with any children of the marriage remained with the husband. The
parents had the most importan1 say in the matter of consenting to the marriage and
child marriage occurred, though in recent years it has bel!n dying out. Labour ser-
vices were rendered both before and after marriage and if divorce occurred theae
were regarded as refundable. Their value in such an event, was carefully calculated in
terms of manillas or cash.
186. During the years immediately after the war the cost of getting married rose
to as much as 120 and ohly the rich could afford such a sum. Of this the dowry
proper amounted to only 24 and the balance of nearly 100 was petty expenses and
as such was non-refundable. As much as 10 was given as the mother's consent
fee. Of the 24, the mother's share was 7 and the father's 17. This, however, was
not uniform throughout the whole of the clan. In some villages it was more than 24
and in others less.
187. Marriage Rules are now in operation in the clan. Since they only came into
force on 1st August, 1953, it is too early to assess how they are working. Before they
were formulated general discussions were held in ail villages and much propaganda was
given to them before they were put into operation. They allow no difference for the
educated and their main provisions are as follows:-
Dowry: To the father ...
To the mother
Petty Expenses:


To the male members of the bride's family 3
To the female members of the bride's family... 2
188. All marriages are required to be registered within seven days of their celebra-
tion. They omit any provision for divorce. The rules are generally acceptable to the
people though the objection has been made to us that the maximum dowry should have
been fixed at 24. However, since the petty expenses are treated as refundable, the
rules d" all<'"_ for a of [24 and in since there wa< no uniformity
in the d:m pnor t<> then mtroJuC'Iu>n, a compromtse had to he reached.
1 Frrhr CJ,,,,_ --Formerly dowry was paid in manillas and was never fixed.
\\'hc:-n it the hride's father would give a quotation which might range frorn
50 to 4.ll\lll. The:- usually paid something then, hut, howc\'cr small the
amount he was allowed to take awav his hride. There were occasions when no
was made and if later the girl pregnant: nothing was ever demanded.
The important point was whether or not the parents hadg11en thetrconsent. By custom,
the was nt'I"Cr paid in full and if more than I ,200 manillas were paid, the girl Was
regarded as a sla1e. Parents are keen to give out their daughters in marriage for two
First. to secure the labour services of the bridegroom after marriage, and
secondl1, to obtain assistance with their own burial services. Child marriage was
pre\'alent in this clan and all presents given during the period of child betrothal
were regarded as refundable.
190. There was custom that when a baby girl was born, the husband gave a present
of one manilla.
191. :\larriage is associated with a series of ceremonies and in the 1930s the cost
of these ranged from 10 to 15. The preliminary drink (which is "tumbo" or raffia-
wine) cost 1 to 2. The mother's consent fee which was paid in the form of camwood,
yams, cloth, chalk, meat, etc., would cost 3 to 5. The bride paid a preliminary visit
to the husband's house which lasted two weeks (though on occasions it turned out to be
a permanent visit). On return to her parent's house she was given presents to the
value of about 4. The hesband then came with members of his family to settle the
dowry ("mai ukwu"--the highest "tumbo"). He then gave a token fee of 6s. Nearly
all the expenses incurred were on behalf of the mother and the wife herself. The father
recei\'ed little or nothing.
192. The custom of fattening obtains in this clan. After the wife has been living
with her husband fora year or so, she returns to her parent's house fora period of eighteen
months to two years. During this time, she does no work and naturally grows very
robust. The parents are compensated for what they spent on their daughter and the
cost to the husband before the war was 15 to 25. It was his duty to provide such
things as a bed, a mat, a lamp, ornaments and a mirror, etc. They were given to the
mother-the father had no share. If the husband did not do this, the marriage was
dissolved automaticaily, though he was allowed to keep the child if one was born.
193. The expenses which a man incurred on the burial services of either of his
wife's parents ranged before the war from 10 to 20. He gave according to his
wealth. Often a cow was given for the burial feast. If his wife was a first daughter,
the expenses were higher. It was her responsibility to provide the coffin and this was
naturally paid for by her husband.
194. Traditionaiiy, divorce was very rare in this clan and even today it is far from
. 195. During the years immediately after the war, the cost of marriage rose very
h1gh, largely due to the influence of ex-servicemen and of strangers who paid more. It
:"'ith it ail the usual attendant evils. Girls flocked to Port Harcourt to practise
prostitution and many cases of abortion occurred as by Etche custom for an unmarried
woman to have a child is regarded as an abomination. Those girls who remained at
home did not usually marry at the proper time and by Etche custom, a woman is expec-
ted to be a mother by the time she reaches the age of 21. By 1950, the dowry had
reached 120. The consent fee was as much as 15. The money was found either
hy to lsusu clubs for a period o( up to years or hy the man and his
":ifc scr\'ing the person from whom he borrowed the money in a form of bondage until
the debt was paid.
I%. Marriage rules along similar lines to those of lkwcrre came into operation on
1st May, 1954. Elaborate consultation took place before the rules were made and they
ha,c been received joyfully by the people. As in the case of the lkwerre rules, provi-
sion for divorce was omitted and it is understood that an amendment to the rules is in
the course of preparation.
197. Dy custom, burial fees form part of the refundable dowry, though the Native
Authority in limiting petty expenses has cut them out from the reckonable dowry, as
it regards the custom as a bad one. It has been the practice in recent years to regard
financial assistance given by a man to his wife's parents after marriage as part of refund-
able dowry, though presents of meat and yams, etc., given after marriage are not so
198. Ogba Clan.-These consists of three groups:-
(i) Osomini
(ii) Jgburo and
(iii) Egi.
At present the dowry varies from group to group. The customs are somewhat similar
to those obtaining in Etche clan. The preliminary visit lasted 4 days, or one native
week and when the girl returned to her parent's house, she was given a present of 20s.
In this clan, however, a man is required to pay a substantial sum before he may take his
wife to his own home. A day is fixed for this and the bride is led to her new home
by a bevy of ten girls.
199. In Osomini group the dowry in 1921 was 25 and in 1939 when there was
less money about due to a depression in trade it was reduced to 17 10s. Thereafter
petty expenses rose and soon exceeded the sum of 30. Young men developed the
habit of sponging on a would-be bridegroom for as much drink as they could extort from
200. The people are desirous of having marriage rules. Recently the Ekpeye
Clan Council has instigated a move for uniformity of dowry throughout the whole of
Ahoada division. In that clan rules limiting dowry and petty expenses to 30 are in
operation. Osomini and Igburo groups have agreed to adopt these rules, though Egi
group wish the limit to be fixed at 25. It is understood, however, that the move for
uniformity is welcomed.
201. Engenni C/an.-Engenni clan consists of two groups; (i) Okarki and (ii)
Joinkrama. In 1920 it was decided that dowry should be fixed at 30, but during
the years of the depression in the early 1930's it was reduced to 1717s Od in Okarki
Group and 21 in Joinkrama. This was distributed as follows:-
Okarki: To the father .. .
To the mother .. .
Sundry expenses
Joinkrama: To the father
To. the mother
Petty expenses ...
10 0
5 0
2 17
10 0
0 0
0 10
0 plus l bag salt
0 plus l bag salt
0 in cash and S
jars of pabn
Jn tnf 1'1:-tn"t l nH)fl presst'd for a umtorm systl'm to lactlltatc Inter.
N-tw('t"n. tht- and on 3ht D{"("f'nlht-r, 1953, a j<,int ml'rting of the
t'h' "''un,tls Jt"\.''"Jcd that should be., tixrd at t)O. of educa ..
ti<>nal <Jllaliri,oti<>n> and >hPuld 0.. disrrit->utNI a> follows:-
Tt' tht fathtr
T<' the nwthtr
To the bride
To the t-ridt"s par.-rnal relative>
To tht brides maternal relatiws . . ..
Pert) expenses are not rt"):.rded as refundable in this clan. i\larriage rules have already
been prepared and put->lishw in the Gazette fixing dowry at i lis Od in accordance with
what is obtaining in the Okarki Group as mentioned above. This is not what the
people want.
202. Di,orce in this clan occurs frequently. It is believed this is due in part at
least. to the fact that there are more men than women living in the area. This is a
surprising state oi atfairs, but the fact is borne out by the recent census.
203. Ekf>'yr Clan.-:\larriage rules were passed for the Ekpeye clan and came
into force on 1st .\pril. 1952. They have the general support of the people and little
difficulty has been experienced in enforcing them. The members of the Native
Authority are keen that the rules are enforced and it is unlikely that many infringements
go unnoticed. The following statistics apply for the period 1st April, 1952-30th June,
:\umber of marriages registered ... 495
K umber of prosecutions for demanding, receiving or paying dowry,
etc., in excess of the maxima stipulated in the rules
:\umber of prosecutions for other offences, e.g., failure to register
marriage 31
The rules limit head dowry (which is payable to the father) to 20 and petty
expenses to 10. They contain no clause on the subject of divorce, but they have been
interpreted as precluding a man from claiming more than 30 as refund of dowry,
whatever heights the original dowry reached. It will be noted, therefore, that petty
expenses are treated as refundable.
204. Abua Clan.-lt is regretted we know nothing of this area. The people did
not appear before us, nor did they submit any written evidence.
Degema Division
205. Kolohari Clan.-Three systems of marriage exist in this clan:
(a) "lya." This is a patrilineal system between members of different houses
or extended families.
(b) "Wari-bio-be-iya." This is a patrilineal system between members of the
same house.
(c) "lgwa." This is a matrilineal system.
206. The lya System.-Under this form of marriage, the children belong to the
husband, and have the right to inherit from him.. Divorce is impossible. Separation
may,_however, he though anr born to another man to the legally
marned husband. It 1s a system wh1ch mvolves a very heavy expenditure on ceremonies
and in the early years of this century the total cost of these amounted to 300 to 400
or even more. The amounts given hereunder relate to this period. Needless to say
it was a form of marriage which only the wealthy could hope to aspire to. '
2u-:-. Its stagt:s wtrc as (i) The prc1iminary gift of one
bottle tll drink (\a\ucd at to the J:,"'rl'!\ (ir) lru.Hma. The !'Uilor gave drink
thl' hc;nl of thl' )!;irl's 11ou:'c who the parents and llo\ISC members for
discussHillS about the proposed marriage. The cost was J:5 to {10. (ii) lmiete-hrt-iru.
Thank the rclati\"CS for agreeing to the 1wtrotha1. (;ifts or drink were made to each
nwmhn .,f the I louse individuallv and the cost was 10 to LIS. (iv) Jlurudofii. Passing
,,d. \'am<. plantains, palm oil, pepper and fish were taken hy the female relatives of
the suitor tn the bride and her relatives. Usually the fish was not sent. Instead
were for its purchase. On ten successive market days (which are held every
eight days) the suitor must carry 20 yams, plantains, etc., to the bride ami her relatives.
This symbolises his responsibility for her feeding, The total cost would amount to 7,
(1) J.:onjuji11aye, or "tying of cloth." The suitor gives about forty pieces of cloth,
each eight yards in length and of varying quality to his betrothed. The cost was 25
to 30. This symbolises his responsibility in clothing her. (vi) Wari Laye. The
preliminary visit of the bride to her husband's house. The visit lasted only one night
durin14 which the marriage is consummated. At this time he gave her about sixty pieces
of cloth at a cost of approximately 35. In addition, a [ew pieces may be given to her
female relatives who lead her to his house. Thereafter the bride may visit the husband
at any time in order to serve him in such ways as sweeping the floor, etc., but the visits
are all of short duration and she is not allowed to eat in his house. (vii) Opokunye and
Jbila Anyaye. These two ceremonies are always taken together. (Opokunye-going
to the fireside, Ibila-bed, a11ya-to make). This took the form of a gift to the bride's
mother of manillas to the value of 4s and until it was performed the bride was not
allowed to cook for her husband, or make his bed. (viii) Pulonunu. The actual payment
of dowry, which was fixed at five puncheons of oil (pulo-oil). The cost was 50.
They were presented to the House Head who handed them over to the bride's family.
The bride's share was two puncheons (Note-3 puncheons=2 tons approximately). (i:t)
Bibife. "Buying of the mouth." This symbolises the wife's freedom to eat in her
husband's house. A costly feast is prepared and drinks are provided. The wife and
her family and the groom's friends and relatives are all invited. The bride's relatives
examined the food prepared beforehand and if it was not sumptuous enough it was
refused and the bridegroom must repeat the feast. It was always held at night. At
the feast, the bride puts food into the bridegroom's mouth and the latter does the same
to the bride. After this the family of the bride carry the rest of the food back to their
house, leaving the remainder of the gathering to drink. The expenditure on this
ceremony was 10 to 25. During the feast the bride may receive a small present of
manillas and cloth from the bridegroom and from his relatives and well-wishers.
208. The marriage is then complete and wife goes to live permanently in her
husband's house, She becomes a full member of his family.
209. The essential element in the maniage is "irusema." The House head carries
the wine to an oracle and prayers are offered to divine if the oracle approves of the
marriage. Sometimes hi/rife followed immediately after irusema and the other cere-
monies were postponed. Pulonunu was paid instalmentally and might even be treated
as a debt.
210. Female circumcision is not practised. After the birth of first child, the
wife is required by custom to return to her parent's house and to go into "fattening."
The minimum period is three months, though she may stay up to a year. The cost
to the husband is very high. He had to provide not only food of the best, but a bed
and bedding, a 10 gallon iron pot, a basin, a bucket and soup bowl, crockery and cutlery,
pomade and three or four suites of clothes. When the fattening period ends a feast is
[iri) J,.ittr-N-rTll-l o..<t J..l !0 /...!..
[ri:) BuTlldogi-Thig i..< done on half the gcale or less than under the ira form of
marriage and ten yams. etc .. are carried on each occa;ion. The cogt is [2 to 3 !Os Od.
(rl Jran'-/ay1"-0nly ti,e pieces of cloth, costing j) to J).
(ri) O['Qkr;"'Y' and lbila ...lnyaye-the game a; in lya. co..<t 4s.
(rii) Bibijr-Similar to but on a gmaJler scale. Cost {2 to J).
Krmju Firraye and Pu/o"""" (payment of dowry) are not included.
213. Attmrpts of Rtfomr.-In 1921 the l\.alabari ::\ational Assembly attempted
to limit the dowry in lya marriage and decreed that it should not exceed 50. This
was obsened for three or four years, after which there was a gradual return to the old
sc21e. In 1942. the l'nions and Associations again brought the matter before the Chiefs
and the Council declared the h-a down should be fixed at 20, or 10 where the con-
tracting parties were the same House. It was intended that by bringing the Iya system
"-ithin the means of all that the lgu:a form which is unpopular, should disappear.
Howe\er, this was not followed, and today Jya marriage costs up to 80 to 100 on any
girl, there being no difference for the educated. The Native Authority now declares
it "-ishes dowr:- to be fixed at 20, and that it be paid as follows:-
To the House Head
To the father
To the mother ...
To the bride
Maintenance (Burudogi) ...

... 20
These sums are to be expended on the essential to the traditional marriage.
It hopes the Igwa system will disappear but does not wish this to be tifected by legisla-
tion. At the present time a man may start to marry under the Igwa form and later
convert to the lya system by paying the Pulonunu. He may legitimise any children
born by paying a redemption fee. It is desired that the ceremony of fattening should
;ontinue in its essential form though all the unnecessary expenses pertaining thereto
should be cut out.
214. The bride receives presents from her parents when she goes to her new home.
215 Okrika Clan.-Two forms of marriage exist in Okrika Clan, the "Iya" or high
dowry system and the "lgwa," or low dowry system.
216. The Iya System.-This is a form which is not entered into without the most
careful consideration and fore-thought as it involves the union of the two families almost
into one. When such a marriage has taken place, one family is bound in a case of
han.l<hq> m the other to render all assistance possible ami thereafter the dead of the
two families arc huried together. All the children belong to the father except the third
who to the mother's family. The latter like to have a girl and if the third child
turns out to be a boy they will try to "do a deal" by persuading the other family to give
them instead a girl in marriage under this system. .lt is accompanied by lengthy
ceremony and divorce under this form of marriage, though not impossible, is very rare.
A stparation may be granted, though any children born to another man are regarded aa
the property of the legal husband. Divorce is accompanied by a lengthy ceremony in
which sacrifices are performed to every god mentioned in the marriage ceremony and
the dowry paid must be refunded seven-fold.
217. Formerly manillas were used in this area, the value of which varied in terms
of cash. Today they are reckoned at six manillas to the Is. The dowry consisted of
the following:-
2 cases of "Okuru" (Native woven cloth).
23 manillas.
6 pitchers of tumbo wine.
8 yards of real India cloth.
7 or more pieces of "Akwete" (Native woven cloth).
1 to the bride's father.
Ss to 1 to the bride's mother.
I bottle of whisky to the House Head (or 1 guinea instead)
Several Fene cloths (Portuguese blankets).
After presenting these, the marriage ceremony was performed. The oldest man and the
oldest woman present A single piece of "Okuru" native cloth was
round the bnde and bndegroom and they were required to give their consent
by dnnkmg from the same cup. Prayers were offered to a number of native gods and
the drinking and each prayer were repeated seven times.
218. The custom obtained in former times, whereby if you knew a woman who
was pregnant you could touch her on the stomach with a periwinkle and say: "If the
child is a boy he will be my friend; if a girl, I will marry her." If the child was a girl
she was more usually married to your son. As soon as the woman .was confined, you
would be informed. By native law and custom this act was regarded as absolutely
219. Today, dowry is usually paid -in cash and ranges from 60 to 80, though
some families insist that every item should be paid in kind. As from 1950, there has
been a small difference for the educated. Now only about two per cent marry under
this system as it means losing a member of the family. The igwa system, however,
carries with it the likelihood of increasing the size of the family.
220. When a bride goes to her new home, she is given presents by her parents,
though there is nothing specified by custom.
221. A child may be betrothed, but child marriage proper is not practised in this
clan. Traditionally, the consent of the parents was important, though the last word
lay with the bride when she was called to give her consent in the marriage a:remony.
A girl would not be forced to marry a man she did not like. If her parents attempted
to do this, she had the right to go away and adopt another family.
222. The mother has no fixed-share ofthe dowry. So much importance is attached
to the implications of this form of marriage that todsy parents usually keep the dowry
paid for about a year to see if the marriage is a real success. Afterwards, it may be
spent by the two parents together, we are informed, "on some useful purpose."
11.r s,.., __ -Thio 1-< "'''!lftinl
;,. "'' -t.."'" anJ n., "' .-:q..-n-litu,... <>i {5 "' ihl is in'"hN and
th<- ""'''- tnCft'l- pth<-r anJ drink. .\11 the- chiki"'n 1-<lon "' the mothers
fanuh an.! fhr, ........... n.lnlC". n .. ,.;f.- k.-..1"' all he-r l'n>r<:rt,. in h.-r ra .... ms
hou;:o: anJ rraJe< <>n he-r '''"' a.-rount. The- Mlrial at her death
r-ai..i !-1<-r ''"" anJ h..r husNr..! i:!: "''' N>unJ t\' &.<$ist h.-r in time oi hardship.
Tlto.. dd.i!Tn h,a,.., n>' t<> inh.-:-it from tbt-ir fathe-r at h.s death .
.:.: ... chikir..n ...... serw the-ir father ur t<> the- oi alxllll sixt<"t'n. though as
in."'' ,.._.....,n t\' ttcht \ftn' the- ";ks fatt- mn the-m to!!'' anJ Ji,e in his house.
:o.._,mc:time; take$ a rra! iO M ,hiiJtTn anJ rays i.-r their education
an.i ,..h<-fl thi:< usu.all) ans"-n M r:wror. Di,w>.--e under this system is now
The l)i;;rik.a Clan CNID<.-il dtsiiT oror <>i marriag.- in whi.:h the iather
""'-= the ,. . .._, sboold w right to inhe-rit in>m him. The d,wr:-. they
slk-u1i .. rrus {5 expenses ...-hich sh.-uiJ .... fundal:>le In case of
.ij,-on:o:. r'urthn- make w a .-ouple_ u-ish man luw the- ro drposit ,.;th the and 11 the g-trl s
has. n..>t'IIll thk; ...nhin mootbs the money should pa..-<S mto :Same
Authority fund:s. the marriage being regarded&<; ha,;ng solemnise.!.
Ct....-ln Clan. t'l1ftl oi marriage prac""tised, the
.. or big and the .. Igwa." or smaD do..-ry
22-. lW /n:z S\-st-.-ln this S\'Slml oJ marrial!e. all W children to the
&the!-. o;,-on:e is f,ossiNe oo refuDd oi all that been paid and is today fairly
rommon. The dowry is no..- of the order of l,SIJ..[t:JJ and before the girl goes to her
busbm,:rs house she is confined in the ''&nallng room' for about six months. During
this time. the husband pays for her and the cost is about {I t1. This
is in addition to the- do..-ry propel" and is refundable. When she comes out of the
the husbmd presents her ..-ith "egrebite .. doth) together
1rilh brad ties. trinkets, an umbrella and other artidcs ro the value of about 4(1. The
dub lllfmhen are called md the "outing ceremony tales place. This is accompanied
by much drinking md the bride is led to the bridegrooms house. The cost of the
ceraDIIIlY is borne by the twu lianilies and is noc refundable.
228. When ber first child is about to eight yars old. the ";fe reases to tie
qrdlitr. acqn fur b.ouse-11iUL Shr wars "bibite" which is imported cloth and
it sbooos t:hll she is ..,.... a womm of imponmae.
m. 7W Jp. S.'*-.-'This is the aJIIIIIIODCISI: system. UDder which all children
beloGg to thr motbrr's family.
230. R 'sSmr. Tbr llooay has recnmmended the
8S doon) paymmts, tbeR beiug DO for the educated:-
() \\llae the aJDtrwSing parties are from hro different Houses, dowry not
1D 15, plus CD&IIImuy HouR or Table fee of 2 lOs Od.
(6) parties-= from the &aiiiC House, the dowry not to uoeed 10
pha the HOU&e ar Tabe fle oi [.1 Ss Od.
Zll. 04a.l Sal. C1a.-No d$ils are nailable of the marriaft systans in this
-. daaucb the Clan Council ha I'CEIDIIIIIICil dmt the dowry should on no IICCOUIIt
uzcd [)A).
232. Tlu [);risjiJIUJl l".U011 1Pon Han:ourt) a uniform nmriage
,-stem throughout the whole of the di,ision Uld, if pteible. throughout the wbolr
oi I jaw rewmmend tlut dowry be fixd .at l.O, irrespccrive ol educa-
tional quahhc-.attons and that payment of 10 abould euable a man to taU his wife
his home. the balance to be paid instalmentally within one year. 11x-y funher
rf"(Ommend that the Jgwa" system of marriage be abolished outright in the division.
Brass Diflsioo
The marriage systems in the Kololtuma and Opokuma Clans in nortbem
)jaw are here gi,en as an example. In other clans the systems obtaining are almosc
rhe ;.ame and conditions are \"el") similar.
Traditionally there were se,eral of marriage:-
). Big Dou:r)" OT This is a patrilioeal sysu:m under which the chiJdn:n
belong to the father and hne the right to inlw:rit from him. It is a highly
though its practice formerl, was not common as when a f:rtber gave his
dJughter ?Ut in big doWl) marriage' he lost all rigblll to children be
born. Hts family could not therefore hope to benefit from their senJQJ:S m IJme
of war. Dowrv was formerlY paid in gin and was of tbe order of twenty-five ases.
there being twelve bottles to. a case and each bottle was at Is. The grata"
part of this was paid not to the father but to the family head. the .dowrJ
took the form of a cannon. dancing, drinking and feastmg accompanied the
marriage ceremony and when the bride was brought to beT husband's house she
was bedecked with coral beads, her hair was shaved and a canon was 6Rd to mark
the ce.lebration. The ...-ife's propertt at divocce or death goes to her husband.
2. Srn.a/1 Durrry OT KDlaikia.-This is a matrilineal system and all the
belong to their mother's famih. They may leave their father's house at any tilDe
go and liYe "ith their mOther's family and they no righliD inherit from
thetr father. This was far commoner than Bere and tmder this S\ISb:Dl the dowry
ranged from fiye bottles to ten cases of gin. The wife's property at dn-on:te is diYidl:d.
equally between her and her husband.
3. "Opu-IkUJ."-Under this system the male issue belong ID the &a:ber aod
family. The dowry WliS of an aiiMMIIIt iou:rmedilde
. consisted merely of an ac:bmge of sislers -.
desmng marnage and inwh-ed no dowry paymeats. Cbildrm of such marrilga
a similar status to those born under big dowry.
5. bad two forms-
( D) A debtor could giw: one of his sisras in maniage ID his crediox. TIIis
cancellcd the debt, there being no dowry psymmL
(b) person aocideD131ly killed 01' uWmed IIDOihel- persoo oould giw: a
to the mJurm party or to a member of his &mily by way el
m the hope of pre\-enting future n:bli:llioo.
235. In either case any children born - n:guded as being big dowry issue.
236. . In Bomo and Ogboin Clans.. tbe praclia: of WliS H a
man was m debt he could gift to his aeditnr a sisltr:s- on pledp md _.., dMidn:a t-..
w:ere _regarded ss big dowry issue of the cnditnl-. The cld:Jlul- ._. to
his SISta' at any tnne be found able ID me ddJt, lbe
were not redeemable. The - CIIIIIIDI!nied bad - _, ia lbe - il
:: }:!a-been cre'::i. -!We pledged, marri8ge "BDCb .... .....,. pentlly follo.ed
"1\"'-iv dowrY '"'"far '"''lllnltlOt"'$t ft'ml ,,f marriag-e tlwu_l!ll :t small
rf th(" dowry omd n"'ry a
un..t .. r ,.,..._;k,,, ma,- !>< f,,und .
Fat hen:: :J.n'" tt--...i.l\ un'' illinc h' civr daughttn::. out on big dowry Tnarriage
their iamil\' !,""" richt h inherit fmm the children of the marriage.
ntil ye3no.: ,,awn in- 'and Clans \\";JS CDIHtl:on. 'l'he
lather> ,,i tht d,>wn- und,r Ka!Jikio is tixed at .{U though often as l1ttk as 3
or 5 ma, and iather will not press for the In addition. fwm lOs
to [::. i> given t< the bride hersl'lf ;md a similar amt>unt to the mother. !loth these
iom1 part oi the rl'fundable down_ In former times the mother's >hare might take the
fom1 of a nm barn built for htr brideroom and the bride might rccein ;nstead a
smalll-anoe. w._. are infomlt"d that in Ekowe ,;llage in Bomo Clan the father's share of
do"T)- on a 'it<'in i> about {12. while that on a di,-orced woman is .{5 to //- On a
woman who ha$ n<'t been married before but is not a ,-irgin it is 6 to 8, depending on
239. Big dowry in Kolokuma Opokuma, Clans is 40 to 60 and Opu-ikia dowry is
30 to 4D.
. 240. _The initial drink is fixed at two bottles of gin, though suitors may gi,-e more
f they 'nsh. :\!uch importance is attached to the payment of Zs to the master of cere-
when the dowf}- is fixed. Fattening and female circumcision are practised and
m th1s an:3: girls are circumcised at the age of IS to 16 years and cases even
the operanon is performed on girls who are already pregnant. After circumciSion
the girl's head is shaved, her bodv is rubbed "ith cani-wood and as soon as she is able
to walk she goes about her ,;llage collecting presents from her friends and relatives.
24 L At this time the husband is put to considerable expense as he pays not only
for the girl's feeding but he must also pro,ide such things as a bed and bedding, soap,
kerosene, a lamp, a head-tie and a piece of real India cloth, etc., 2s to the woman who
dresses the wound and !Os to the girls who attend her after the operation. The people
attach great importance to circumcision. They believe that a child born to a mother
"':ho has not been circumcised will not be strong and a grown woman who dies uncircum-
cised may not be buried in the ,;uage burial-ground. Yet the operation, performed
is without an anaesthetic and at such an age, brings much pain and suffering to
panent. Even so, along ";th the partaking of drink it is the essential element m
marriage while the actual payment of dowry is not. It is almost universally practised
throughout Brass dj,;sion, though the Kembe Clan is an exception.
242. This is an area where child marriage is practised. Divorce in small dowry
marriages is relatively common. It is also the practice to claim adultery damages.
These vary from clan to clan. In Kolokurna-Opokuma Clans, they are fixed at 3 Ss Od
and are payable by both the adulterer and the adulteress.
243. It is the custom for the husband to defray the cost of the burial services on
his 'Aife's relatives and these are included as part of the refundable dowry.
244. The marriage systems in Brass Division form a real hinderance to the deve-
lopment of the area. Under the dowry system, which is by far the most prevalent,
the father does not own his children and consequently has little interest in paying for
their education. In an effort to get children of their own, young men have been in the
habit in recent years of going to Isoko and Ibo areas to try and obtain wives under big
dowry and the average amount of dowry paid was 20. Bot such marriages have
r:lr\h pro\ld :1 ( Httn till' decamped, taking the children with them
<.'bt m;Jdc to tlw District Ofli.ccr that they hcen away in
'l'he ,.o,tngt:r cnlightt:nnl t:lelllcl\t desires one ol nlQrriagc in which
tlu ,hildnn 1\;\1 helong to the father and will ha.-c the right to inherit his property.
Th,., ""' "ant the law to he n10ule rl"lrospccti.-c. Opinions differ as to the rate at
"hich it slwuld he li\ed. The :\em he :\ationa\ Union (Lagos Branch) recommends
"hiil' the Oghoin Suhonlinate '\ati,r Authority recommends 25. Most people
";lllt lema le- circumcision to continue hut to he perfonncd only on the very young,
the Cesi ljo llnion (Port llarcourt Branch) consider the practice is not to
be encoura_gcd and in their recommendations they make no provision for the expense
att:trhnlto it.
Ogoni Division
2-l.". Dowry in Ogoni division \'aries from clan to clan. Everywhere it has risen
>in cc pre-war days and it is now the practice that more should he paid for the educated.
The following are the comparati,e figures:
Pre-war Present
Clan dowry dowry

Southern Kana 40
Northern Kana IS
Gokana ... 40
... IS 20-40
... IS
246. In addition, the husband provides a considerable amount of drink at the
marnage ceremony and he also pays for ceremonies associated with fattenmg. By
custom he pays for the burial ceremonies of his wife's parents.
247. In Eleme Clan, dowry was formerly paid in manillas and at one time it was
fixed at 1,400, which at 20 to the Is is equivalent to 3 !Os Od. Later it rose to
rnamllas or 6. When manillas had been done away with, the amount currently pwd
was .21 on a first daughter and 20 on other daughters. In addition, a goat and a
spec1al payment of 4d were given in each case. The Eleme Clan Council wishes
dowry to be limited to 41 on a first daughter and 40 on succeeding daughters, in
addition to the goat and 4d, while the drink, the Council says, should be limited to
three bottles of gin.
Obubra Division
248. Abanyum Clan.-The following account relates to Abanyum Clan, though
we understand that conditions in other clans are similar.
249. Formerly iron rods were used for the payment of dowry, each rod being
valued at 6d. A first payment of thirty rods was made to the girl in the presence of
her father. This was meant for clothes. The girl went to live with the man for a
trial period, after which the main dowry of ninety-two rods was paid. The father
received fifteen and the remainder was divided between other members of the family.
Palm wine, kola and other things played their part in the attendant ceremonies.
2SO. Later money came to be used and the customs changed somewhat. The
trial period became very lengthy-anything from two to ten or even twenty years.
During this time, any children born belonged to the girl's father. 'Nhen the girl
was fully satisfied that she wanted to marry the man, she would inform him that he
may he her and thi$ l'f thr of tht" (lf {5 in the presenc.
of parents. rd.ltl\-t''S and fri('nd:'. Entertilinnlf'nt at this time. .\fterw..,.
d''"T\ !''"''P'" wa.< raid The m.Ti\''C'd onl" 15s and th, main dowry of
[:!_ 1\\;: \\'3, raid .. itht-1' !l' Cir;s <tnilll' t>rttht'r or !0 her maternal reJati\'C, USuajJy
m,,th.,rs t-n,th..r.
251. Th.. fath"r '"'"Tl("o.l the children. ahhou!(h the\' had no ri!lht to inherit from hirn.
25:.. Tht l'<"''f'lt di$like this $\"Stem on tw<> gn>unds. First, the, dislike the long
trial F"'ri,-,J in which thildrt'n m:t\' t>c t-om out ol wedlt>ck and secondlY they consider
that children should h3\'e a w inherit from their father. In 1952. the Clan
Council decn-ed that th.. J,,.,n on an illiterate girl should be a fixed sum of 10 and
on a literate
_:1 5. edu,-ati.onal qualification .. The Council further
declared that duldrt'n should hlle the right to mhenl lrom father and that the
dowry should be paid to the father. anything the '?other receied bein!( a matter for
pri-ate arrangement. It is understood the Counctl dtd not mtend to make the rule
retrospectie 'in its etfe.."t on the laws of inheritance. We have no information as to
how it is working. It has not had the approval of the Reg10nal Amhonty and has
not been published in the
253. The people consider a differential for education is necessary to encourage
parents to send their daughters to schooL
lkom Division
25+. The down in this area is .-en low. Throughout the greater part of the
di>ision it is 5 arid the Ikom Di.-isional Council desires to. have a rate
throughout the of 20. They hope thereby to curtail the soanng dtvorce
rate. They the distribution as follows:-
To the father ...
To the mother
To the bride ...

255. In Southern Eting, the dowry, including labour services, gifts of wine during
the courtship period and expenses incurred during fattening IS accepted to be 10.
The Clan Council is in favour of an increase to 20.
Abakaliki Division
256. There are seven clans in Abakaliki and the amount of dowry currently
paid varies from clan to clan. In four of them it is relatively low-below 30 while
in Iheru clan the maximum is 50. It is regretted that details are available for Ikwo
Clan only.
25i. Ikwo Clan.-This is an area where the traditional form of marriage appears
to continue today with little modification. The bridegroom still renders lahour
services during the betrothal period and we are informed that the value of these when
computed at the current labour rate is of the order of 50. Presents are given to
both parents of the girl at festival times before marriage and they continue for seven
years after its celebration, or until a child is born. Four feaats are celebrated annually,
and on each occasion the mother is presented with four yams and the father receives
six yaJI1II, meat and tobacco. The father's share of dowry is:
Two cows, one goat, four yards of cloth, two iron bars, and a red cap.
The mother's share is one goat and a supply of yams. The iron bar is at present valued
at 10&, though it was formerly rated at 2 6d. We are told that if today a man offers
= instead, it is generally refused, and he is asked to purchase these things for his
Circumcision is practise.l and it accompanied hy a period of
fhis takes place after contracting the and before the l(irl goes to live in her
husband's house. Durinr: the fattening period the husband supplies meat, yaiTI.!I,
coco-nuts, ground-nuts, etc., and when the wife comes out from the fattening. room
he a feast .. Formerly th1s was paid for in iron hars hut now he generally
giHS 3 10 cash. 1 wo or three years later a second ceremony takes
rlac". (The actual operation is performed at the time of the first ceremony). The
hu,band has a feast prepared, for which he pro\'ides two goats. In addition, he gives
to his wife-four yams (for sacrificial purposes), to her mother-four yams and a
fowl, and to her father-six yams and two fowls. This is in addition to the presents
at festi\'al times, which usually continue at this time. The woman's hair is shaved
d her body is painted with cam-wood. The ceremony symbolises the arrival at
full womanhood and unless it is performed any children born are not regarded as
belonging to the real parents.
259. The question of reform has been discussed by the Ahakaliki Authority
and their decision is that the method of paying dowry as it obtains at present in each
clan, should continue. They also said that if a ceiling price is to be fixed in terms of
cash it should be 50.
Ogoja Division
260. Ogoja Division comprises thirteen clans. In Nkum,
and Akujuk Clans, the amount of dowry currently IS The followmg deta1ls
relate to Nkim Clan. The marriage customs in the other four clans are almost the same.
261. Nkim C/an.-Formerly dowry was paid in iron rods, having a value of 6d
each. This was fixed at 140 rods, of which the father received sixty and the mother
eighty. The mother generally receives a part of this, according to the
arrangement, though if the parents are not living together at the time when their
daughter marries, she may well go disappointed without. The use of the iron rods
ceased about 1930. There is no child marriage in this area and circumcision and
fattening are not practised. Labour services were rendered traditionally and they
continue today. Usually a bridegroom will work for the girl's father for about two
seasons preparatory to marriage. The children of the marriage belong to the father
and at his death they inherit a proportion of his property. The exact proportion
of the yams and farming land, etc., is dictated by custom.
262. The people are fully satisfied with their marriage system, though they would
like the dowry on an educated girl to be increased to 10. They consider this is
necessary to encourage girls' education.
263. Marriage customs in Mbube, Osokom, Afririke, Bekworra, Yache-gabu,
lrruan and Ukelle clans are similar. The following account relates specifically to
Osokom Clan.
264. Osokom Clan.-Dowry was formerly paid in iron rods and was fi.xed at 240.
Of this, the mother's share was one third and this proportion contin':'es today. Cash
was first introduced in 1940 and it was not welcomed. If a young man \vished to pay
the dowry in cash instead of in iron rods he was asked to pay 10 or so, while the cash
equivalent of 240 rods at 6d each was 6. This appears to be the major reason for the
increase in dowry in this area. Today the current price is 12 cash, though if a young
man can manage to pay in iron rods, the father-in-law is delighted. . There is no
child marriage, no circumcision nor fattening. Traditionally labour services were
- .:l.tt1 ,,:Lm=- it t:'. h),Lty h.l\\ in it Ius
durim: rt'-"<"fl! \t.II>. J"h, llltlU<'II'\' t>t 1< hdicved
h." tht matn h'r Child m;.Jrnage a:-:; pr;.ll'ttstd.
2t>-. Th.. rnJrttr t>..-.n tc:lh t'l>n,idae,! 1'-Y tht :\atiu .\uthoritY, to whorn
"e 1re f,,r tht' infiJrnl;Jtion:--
fl..rrcn ( 'urrrnl J.imilatio11
Clm: ill4.; desired Remarks
t d
Arikpo.. 3 3 5 l) exludes marriage gifts, the
of which has risen appreci-

0 0
Ama..eri 0 0 Ill 0
Okpocha 6 10 0 Hl 0 0
l'nwana 3 Hl 0 0 0
Edda ... I 10 0 0 0
lshiago 0 30 0 0
Isu 6 0 0 50 0 0
Okposi 5 0 0 25 0 0
-50 0 0
Onicha 6 10 0 60 0 0
Oshiri ... 20 0 0 25 0 0
-30 0 0
Uburu ...
20 0 0 50 0 0
2 cows 2 cows
and 5 goats and 5 goats
6 0 0 10 0 0
6 0 0 15 0 0
-30 0 0
6 10
IS 0
10 0
20 0
20 0
The increase is to include marriage
Exclusive of marriage expenses.
Cows and goats to be valued to an
amount not exceeding 20.
268. The above figures for current dowry relate to illiterate girls. In the areas
where it has risen appreciably, more is charged for the educated. Labour services in
the traditional system were important and in Ake-eze, for example, they constituted the
total of the dowry payment. In some clans, strangers have played their part
m the rise and they are generally required to pay more than natives of the area.
269. The following account relates to the pre-war period in Ishiago Clan. A
suitor first made known his intentions to the girl he fancied by presenting her with
one penny. Later he made a present of some meat (valued at Is) and two coco-nuts
to her parents to let them know he wanted to marry their daughter. If they agreed, four
to eight days later the girl's mother would prepare a sumptuous meal to which the
young man was invited with the following words: "We accept you as our daughter's
future husband." The young man came, bringing with him 4 gallons of palm wine,
meat, siK coco-nuts and eight yams and on arrival he said: "I really want to-marry
your daughter and I am grateful that you have given her to me."
!1. lwtrothal period, tlw voung rnan Jl&Ve hi girl' parentto a yearly
,nstnt of twenty-four yamN, shillings worth nf meat, !ilix l'nco-nuts, twelve gallona
palm wim ami two log uf linwootl. .\fter he made them an _annual
resent ol ctght yarns, two heads ol tnha<'CO and some meat fur at1 long as they lrved.
271. The dowry proper cnnsistctl of two large pur. of palm wine, forty-eight
vams :and a monetary payment of one guinc:a. The might" give more, but
ihe :amount of cash did not <:xceetl In addition, he performed circumcision
ceremonies, the cost of which was up to twu guineas. When the hride went to her
ocw home her parents gave her household equipment and farming utensils, basketa
and li1estock to the value of over 5.
272. At the present time, it is the practice throughout the division to regard an
presents_ given the of child betrothal as part the dowry.
\\"ith thts the 1\:attve Authorrty does not agree. lt also consrdcrs there '" a good case
to be made for reducing the amount of refundable dowry according to the length of
the marriage and the number of children.
273. The Native Authority proposes to institute marriage rules and the
has been supplied with a copy of what they propose. Two pointa are worth notmg.
First, they consider that courtship of girls should not begin below the ap;e of twelve
. years, while the actual betrothal should not take place at an age below. stxteen
Secondly, divorce should be granted only by a court and only on the followmg grounds
(i) Long standing lunacy on either side.
(ii) Attack of leprosy on either side.
(iii) Excess cruelty of husband to wife.
(iv) Impotency.
(v) Desertion of wife or husband. for two years or more.
(vi) Lack of adequate support of wife by husband.
Uyo Division
274. The people of Uyo Division are Ibibios and the description of the marriage
system which follows also obtains amongst Ibibios in neighbouring divisions.
275. The first step in contracting marriage is the gift of complimentary drink.
This varies from clan to clan; in I man Clan it costs as much as 5, though in other
clans it is less. In all clans the drink is usually accompanied by gifts of money. Tradi-
tionally dowry was paid in goats and ranged from ten to twenty-five in.
Later mamllas came to be used and it varied from 800 to 4,000. As a rule Jt d1d not
exceed 1,200 which was equivalent to 15. The use of manillas continued up to 1947.
The dowry was never fixed. The father may quote a figure, but this is not usually
adhered to with any seriousness. What usually happens is the young man pays what
he is able and he then takes away the girl and contintks to pay in instalments. lt
is anti-custom to pay in one lump sum. Today the dowry ranges from IS to 50.
Ttie mother's share is not fixed though in a case where 50 is paid, she will probably
receive about 20, leaving 30 for the father: Sometimes she> takes a larger proportion
and there are cases on record where powerful mothers have given out their daughters
in ma.rriage and received the whole of the dowry.
276. Apart from the cash payment there are certain items in the dowry which
must be given in kind. These include two or three goats, drinks, tobacco and various
articles of wearing apparel. The goats are used for sacrifices during the marriage
ceremony. The drink, more precisely termed "family drink," applies only in certain
clans such as Offot, Etoi and Uruan. It may cost about 3 and forms part of the
refundable dowry. '
rht tn\f'<.lrt:Hh."'t' I:O: m art'a (.ll ,ITllllt'r_nlg ot htho
S("r\'ll.."'t"S. and b,,th 1'\("l_t'n_ an\l ;tlttr ts ev ltt
tt..,dav h'r a man tl"' 'h'rk _to: thret hl h\"t' hefoen
he tSke;:

their m It ht. aw.n trom home or has

emrlt>nnl'nt he must pn lal'<>url'rs I<> J,, tht work tor hmL ;\Iter nurnage the Sl'rvi d
and alth<>U!!h thev do Ill\! f,rm part <>I tht rdundablt dowry. thty
a.,<istant't' rtndert><l. such as payment of the school Y
,,f Y<'Un!!'f'r of the famdv mJy or mav not he treated. as part. ol refunuab';!
dowrY. aC<.'Ordin!! to the md1ndual :lrrdn!!('men': h1r.hand 1s .also obliged b
defray part of the bunal expenses on h1s w1te s parents. H he has
a first daughter these will bt high as he the-n has certam spe-c1al respons1hdltlcs These
expen!'CS form part of the refundable dowry.
ZiS. In the matter of consent. the parents traditionally had major say,
though her own IS called for m the- marnage ceremony. Child marnage occurred
though it is less pre,-aJent now. It took place where was old friendship
betwren two families. It was also the practice where a lather was rn dlf'ficulties to
gi'-e away his daughter in marriage while still a child in order to secure the help and
assistance of the husband.
279. Female circumcision is practised among the lbibios. The operation is
usually performed betwe-en the ages of one and two years. fattening is an integral
part of marriage. Exactly when a girl is to be confined in the fattening room is decided
by the parents and the husband pays all the e.xpenses.
280. DiYorce is not common in marriages where there are children. If a marriage
which has been contracted for less than two years is dissolved the husband usually
claims a refund of all he spent on clothes at the time of marriage and all the wife's
properties, including farm crops acquired during marriage, are regarded as the property
of the husband. The only things which a divorced wife is left with are the presents
given to her by her parents. It is the practice to make a reduction from the refundable
dowry of from 2 10s to 5, varying with the clan, for every surviving issue of the
281. The question of limiting dowry has been discussed by the Uyo County Council
and by three of the six District Councils of which it is composed. All have decided
they are fully satisfied with the marriage system as it obtains at present and desire
no change. The County Council, however, does recommend registration of marriage
as a measure which will greatly assist in settling disputes over child custody and
further that divorce should be pronounced in court. The practice of making deductions
from the refundable dowry for every child of the marriage is condemned and this
point is also mentioned in the recommendation of the !man Rural District Council.
Finally, the County condemns the use of the term "bride price," the lbibio
translation of which is "Ekom Uru Ando"-a person bought as a slave. We are asked
to use the term "Nkpo Ndo" when talking of the Ibibio marriage which means "those
things which a man gives when he marries a woman including cash, gifts in kind and
labour services."
282. The attitude of the Councils 'is not fully borne out by the many letters we
tave received, which call for a reduction in the dowry. From all the evidence we are
of the opinion that the people would welco!"le a reduction in the of the dowry
iven in cash although they strongly des1re that the labour serv1ces rendered, the
l'""'"'"'n' JlreS<,nts gi1ln and the payment oi' hurial expenses hy the huRbanJ ohouiJ
continue as at present. lt is the fear that any limitation impoRed may he construed
as limiting a husband's obligations in this direction which determine the Councils'
Eket Division
2S3. The m a r r i a ~ c system in Ekct Di .. ision is, to all intents and purposes, similar
to that in llyo. Formerly uowry was paiu in manillas and ranged from 100 to 200,
now cqui1alcnt to 1 Ss and 2 !Os respectively. It rose with the passing of the years
and at one time the old Uhium Native Authority stepped in and limited it to 2,200
manillas or [27 lOs Ou. After the last war ex-servicemen paid 40 to 60 and stranger
elements in the clan entered the fielu on a competitive basis and paid 60 to 80.
As in Uyo, it varies with the beauty of the hride, the love a man bears for the bride's
family, her educational qualifications and the ability of the bridegroom to pay. This
l3't is probably the most important.
284. Fattening may take place either before or after marriage. In former times,
a bridegroom gave at this time 240 manillas to the father and 200 to the mother. He
is responsible for the feeding and must provide drink and other things. If the bride
is a first daughter he gives a sheep and two goats and if not a first daughter he gives
two goats only. The period of fattening varies. It is generally about six months.
Certain ceremonies are associated with it and its length depends to some extent on
how quickly the bridegroom can complete these.
285. The Ubium District Council has recommended that dowry on a first
daughter be limited to 30, plus one he-goat, one she-goat and a ram and to 30 on
other daughters. The Okobo-Oron District Council recommends complimentary
drink should be limited to 5 and dowry should be as follows:-
Oron: Mother, 10; Father, 35.
Okobo: 25 and two goats, for both parents.
In Okobo only about 30 is currently paid, whereas in Oron the dowry is now about
70. The Council further recommends that infant betrothal should be strictly for-
286. The Eket County Council has discussed the matter and considers 30 an
appropriate maximum.
Ikot Ekpene Division
287. The marriage system in Ikot Ekpene Division is very similar to that in Uyo.
The main dowry varies from 20 to 100, where the marriage is between wealthy
families. This does not include expenditure on drinks and the many ceremonies
and sacrifices which custom demands where the bride is a first daughter or "Adiaha
Owo." These include rams, a goat, a dog, a cock, a hen, a tortoise, wearing apparel,
etc., which will cost over 10. In Nkalu and Itu Mbuzo areas the main dowry is
somewhat lower than in the rest of the division.
288. The question of limiting dowry h ~ been discussed by the Ikot Ekpene
County Council and the following conclusion. was reached: "#hat bride-price be not
standardised as this is incompatible with the Native Law and Custom in the Division."
The remarks contained in the final paragraph of the section on Uyo also apply here.
Abak Division
289. In Abak Division dowry, was formerly paid in manillas when the maximum
was 23 6s 8d for a first daughter and 13 6s 8d for other daughters when converted
into money. Often much less was paid. Marriage was contracted by the acceptance
of two bottles of drink (one for the father and one for the mother) and some kola.
Now girls with elementary education are married for 45 to 50.
t::nyong DiiSJon Di,i::;.ltJn. ntl\\ nwn. artly d.c"'$'-ril"C..d the Cro:-"::> River
comrri$("'$ Ctun'-;b:
(i) 11:-il>n<> (i) BiaS<" (iii) .\n1-lbo and (h) ltu-ltam.
In this area the amount l.,f dt,wry raid ,arie- not only fron1 clan to clan but fron1 ,-illage
to in sonw- In SOine ;lreas it has risen arpreciably in recent years; in
othen:. it has remained .-onstant.
292. Jbimw Distri.-t.-The main down nri"" from to 30 or exceptionally
35. e:-tpenses may be as high as J,:2o. parti,ularlv where the girl is educated.
:\fore is spent on rituals for the rirst-bom or .\diaha" In Enyong. lkpan,a, Ito
and 1"'-erre ranges from 1,:15 to 20 only and here there is no definite distinction
for- the educated. In this area. there has been little increase in recent vears. The
District Council suggests it be limited to [L' in lbiono and :!.0 in
and Ikpanya-lwerre areas.
293. District.-ln area. the dowry is as follows:-
Illiterate Literate
Father .. .
s d s d
12 0 0 27 0 0
:-.fother .. . 8 0 0 IS 0 0
Bride .. .
-+60 500
Total ...
2-+ 6 0 50 0 0
In other areas it does not exceed 12.
294. Wben marriage is first contracted, it was usual to gi,e four pots of wine to
the father and one to the mother at the time consent was given. The young man then
began to render labour senices. .\nother five pots were given when the girl was ready
to join ber husband. The dimrce rate in this area is high and the payment of dowry
was introduced in an endea\our to curtail it. In 1945, it was fixed at a minimum of
five guineas. It has risen appreciably in recent years and the District Council has
decided it should be limited to twehe guineas.
295. Aro-lbo District.-At the present time the dowry ranges from 20 to 30.
TDe matter has been discussed bv the Aro Clan Council who found that it has risen
appreciably in recent years v.ith social effects. By custom a married woman
is expected to render assistance to her parents but husbands who have paid heavily
for tbeir wives tend to treat them as their exclusive property and even go to the
of administering an oath that they should not render such assistance. The CounCil
wanta the main dowry to be limited to twelve guineas and all customary expenses to
be reduced. They have gone into details of the amounts which should be spent on
each and also the presents which a bride may expect from her parents.
!'If>. The l"turu Authority wishn dowry to be limite<.l to 13 lOs," ... but
the ease of sen>nd-handed women will he 15."
29;. !tu-/lam /)istrirt.-ln /tu the dowry is fixed at 12 Os 46d while in 0/ru-
it is {12 Os fioth Councils ha\e considered the matter and desire
change. In !tam, the dnw'! has risen in recent years and now ranges from 10
[f.O. It ,aries with the wealth of the hridegroom and the education of the bride. As
ueh as [15 may he required as a first .instalment. The Local Council would like
fixed at .{20. The Eki Local Council would like a similar limitation.
Opobo Division
298. The Jbihio area.-Here the conditions are as already described. The main
::lowry and the petty expenses are as in L:yo Division-about [18 to 60. The dowry
is generally less where the bride is vel! young and there is a definite distinction for
the educated and a feeling on the pan of parents that their educated daughters should
be married for more. On the other hand, there is evidence of a demand for stand-
ardisation, particularly of the very hea\')' burial expenses which a man bears in respect
of his wife's family.
299. The Andoni area.-ln this area a matrilineal system of
in which the children belong to the mother's family. Dowry conststs J113Jnly of drinks
money, though cases are on record of as much as 35 being spent i.n this way. The
people are not happy about their marriage system which they leads parents
to take insufficient care over their children and accounts for a high percentage of
illiteracv in the area. The Obolo District Union has recently launched a scheme
to reorlianise the marriage system with a limit fixed at 40.
300. Opobo TOW1I.-The dowry here consists mainly of drinks money and expend-
iture on clothes, trinkets and jewellery in respect of the bride. Before the war the
"gate and parents drink" cost about 5 and the purchase of clothes and ornaments
more reasonable.
301. All the clothes, trinkets and jewellery are refundable in a case of either
death or divorce.
Calabar Division
Efik-Quo.-Efut, Okoyong and Odot Clans
302. The dowry proper is 12 and is payable to the bride who thereafter becomes
responsible for its refund in case of divorce. In the case of a girl who has not been
married before, the following are also payable:
(i) Nkpo Ufok Nkuho-e.xpenses on fattening. A girl is usually confined
in the fattening room after payment of dowry aRd before going to her
husband's house. Formerly this may have been for two to three years
if the husband were wealthy. Nowadays it is usually from six months to a year.
(ii) Nkpo Enyin Usun-the fee for "opening the gate." This is paid in drinks
or in drinks plus cash and may cost up to 5.
(iii) Nkpo Eka Eyen-presents to the mother, 1 guinea.
(iv) Min Ekom-complimentary drinks, 5 guineas.
(v) Ukpan Anwa-pledge of fidelity, 3d.
The total (including the dowry) is in the region of 30.
.i "h,, ....... n nua.rr1ed l\("fL,n. thf' ft,llowing are pi!yable :-
:'\lin Fkl'lll- 3
\;:\ l"k.J'.Ul - {lf ti-..khty. 3d. .
ThC' l,( \Ekd'c. not the Important element in rnarriage.
1t is tht :\hn Fk,,m. l kp.on .-\nwa :ond. 111 tht of a young woman, the Nkpo
Eka Fn.""n ,, h11 .. h the \\"c. no enden<.."'"t.' that there ts any desire for

_;()_;_ r;. .. lkf'<ll .,,J 01>.1'1 Cimr C.mncils WOllld like the following to be adopted:
D,,;,;..,--lliiterAtes; Educated: 25. girl;" 10. There
was fl;nnerly nP in lkpai Clan.
3l)f. TM Ot-uk CIIDI Council also wishes the dowry to be raised to 15. It has
5. plus ":,ne which the Council considers too low and encouraging instability
1n m.amage.
305. In .\'rti"' C/aR, the dowry is) and the Council desires no change.
I. That dowry throughout the Region be limited to a maximum of 30 and that it
should be made an offence to demand, pay or receive any sum in excess of this.
2. That petty expenses throughout the Region be limited to a maximum of 5 and
that it should be made an offence to demand, pay or receive any sum in excess of this.
These should not be treated as refundable.
3. That in future all marriages under Native Law and Custom should be registered.
Marriage registries should be established and registrars appointed. A fee should be
charged for registration. We suggest Ss. Marriage certificates should be issued and
they should be regarded as admissible in evidence in respect of the main facts they
contain. It should be made an offence to fail to register any marriage within seven
da:rs of its celebration. The marriage certificate should record the following facts:
(i) Xame and occupation of the bridegroom, whether bachelor, widower or
di,orced and, where possible, his age.
(ii) Xame and occupation of bride, whether spinster, widow or divorced and,
where possible, her age.
(iii) Kames and occupations of both parents of the bridegroom.
(iv) and occupations of both parents of the bride.
(.c) The amount of the dowry agreed to.
(.c-i) The amount paid at the time of registration and to whom paid.
(Note.-We recommend questions (v) and (vi) be framed in this way because it is the
custom to pay dowry by instalments and we recommend the practice should
Where either party to the marriage is divorced the certificate should record the
court in which the divorce was obtained, the number of the suit and the amount of
dowry, if any, repaid through the court. (See paragraph 4 below).
The marriage certificate should be signed or witnessed by the husband and the
fathec or guardian of the bride in the presence of two witnesses who should also sign
or witness the entry.
i\larri_aFc register!' should he open tu inspection hy any and regif\tran
true copy of any entry upon payment of a fee which we suggest should
\\c do not conside! this sl_wuld rctroRpective. Parties alreatly married
should he allowed to regiSter the1r 1f they so desire, hut we do nol consider thio
should he made obligatory.
. . 4. [)i,-urce.---ln ruture divorceshoul<l he pronounced only by courts of competent
JUnsdlctlon and the grounds on wh1ch d1vorce may be granted should be limited to the
(i) Desertion of husband or wife for three years or more.
(ii) Cruelty on the part of either the husband or the wife.
(iii) Adultery by either the husband or the wife.
(iv) Impotency.
(v) Long standing lunacy on either side.
There should be no divorce by mutual consent.
If the wife is proved to be the guilty party she should be responsible for refunding
the dowry in full. If the husband is proved to be the guilty party he should not be
entitled to any refund of dowry.
5. Child marriage should be abolished. No marriage should be valid where either
party is below the age of sixteen years. Where either party is below the age of twenty-
one years, the consent of the parent or guardian should be required, but this consent
should not be unreasonably withheld.
6. l':ative Authorities and Local Government bodies should be required to make
rules or bye-laws concerning marriage in the areas of their authority. We consider that
this is best done by local councils because unless public opinion is solidly behind the
rules they will not work and if the people themselves are responsible for making the
regulations, there is a greater likelihood that they will be observed. We consider that
a time limit should be set in which they should frame their rules and we suggest six
months. We recommend draft rules be circulated to all Native Authorities and Local
Government bodies to act as a guide in the framing of their own rules. In the case of
Local Government bodies we consider this should be done by Urban and Rural District
Councils. The areas of authority of County Councils are usually large and cover
several clans with differing marriage customs. The rules should specify the following:-
(i) The maximum amount of dowry and to whom payable.
(ii) The proportion in which the dowry is to be shared between the bride's
(iii) The maximum amount of petty expenses and to whom payable.
(iv) The places where marriage registries are to be established.
We consider that these rules should not have a retrospective effect and that in a case
of divorce where a marriage was contracted before the coming into operation of the rules
and the amount of dowry paid exceeded the statutory amount therein fixed, if the wife
is proved to be the guilty party the husband should be entitled to a refund of the dowry
paid in full. Where, on the other hand, the husband is proved to be the guilty party,
he should not be entitled to any refund. We do not consider this will lead to a large
number of divorce suits taken out merely with a view to obtaining a new wife at a lesser
cost and having some amount left over from the refund of the dowry on the former wife.
A husband would have to establish adequate grounds for divorce as in paragraph four
and would in any case have to prove that what he claimed was actually paid.
-. /'tf'Wii.,., _,;.,. 1-."JH,-.,,itt'f. \\"t ,,f tht. oLltiliiHng
in t'f th<- t:o t'Tl httr.Ht' than that an dlltt.'rah.. \\'e
this pr..t'"ti-.."'t h' '"'rt.';\h' .t :md as
r"''li-.._,.. \\t nt.,tt' with th;.tt applytng in
.-\ho .. ;.tilt'\\ no ,iistincti,,n .tnd this ;llsn true ,,t t'\Try cast "hu:h has cotne to
'"'U' t'.\.t,"'\'l'tllbul'rJ. in whidt :111 athmpt Ius ht."en rncuk to_lintit dowry.
\\'e .als,l nott that it is the intcntitlll" tht to nu.kc prnnary educa-
tion uni, .
.nJ in tht. tll'ar fururt.'. Iltnnv(r. _the_ has been
rut {\"l liS in .. :r tlt" l'trt:Jin ;lfl'<IS. not;thly Okag-wa. ()huhra
that if is. to J:-.c. n'' '"iirlt.rt'Th'l' llO rhe dowr\" on tlw educattd g1rls. parents Will
tlwir Jauehtt"n;. t\l S.l"hfl(ll and
nanv in school will he withdrawn. \Ve
tht'rdor.. ,onsider. it should !:>. ldt opc:-n io.local muneib: to tix the maximum dowry
on illitt'r.Hc:- cirls lowt'r ifthn so desir<'. though the maxnnum tor the educated slwuld not
exceed :{3ll.'as stipulated in-paragraph 1. \\"e ask that they should bear in mind m this
connexion that on,-.- a bn-l:1w has been gazetted and 11 1s later des1red that a change
should be made. somt' det1y may be in etiecting that change. It therefore
behon.- the-m to think ,-arefully when the\ formulate the1r rules.
S . Systems of .llarrtilt.-\\"e consider that systems of marriage where-
\er they exist in which the children of the marriage belong to the w1fe's fam1ly and have
no right to inherit their fathers property should be abolished by Regional
The appropriate- local authorities should be required to formulate marnage rules m
accordance with paragraph six. We consider that this should be made retrospective.
"All should be equal before the law." \\"e note that this will affect the laws of inherit-
ance in the areas where such systems now obtain.
9. Circumcision.-We strongly disapprove of the of cliterodectomy
or female Circumcision which obtains in certain areas, particularly m the case of Brass
uhere the operation is perfonned after the age of puberty. However, it is an
mtegral part of native custom in such areas and its sudden abolition would not be
acxe_ptable to the people. We wish to recommend, however, that it should be made a
pumshable offence to circumcise all but the very young and we consider the age-limit
should be fixed at one month.
10. Cc;nain and practices have come to our notice during the course of
our enqumes which we regard as objectionable. Under this heading we include the
(i) The trial per!od bef_ore marriage. The supreme example is Obubra Division,
tnal penod may last several years. We consider, however, that
a tnal penod of even a week or two is against public policy.
(ii) The custom in Amichi of a woman bearing children for her father.
(iii) The system of "pawning" to be found in parts of Brass Division. .
(it:). The in the Ibibio area of deducting a certain sum from the refund-
able dowry m respect of each child of the marriage.
The discrimination against "Osu," brought to our notice in Okigwi.
( All custo':'s concerning marriage which are not of the essence of marriage
we include the "lzu afia" ceremony practised in parts of
. We recommend that the Regional Government should consider legislating on these
utner 1\Ccommenaauons ana uoservauona
1. The danger has hrtn point<<! out to us in respect of certain areas that if the
towrv ti"'l too low, the di_\'Orcc rate will soar and morality_ will llowever,
;,.c that when marnagrs arc and retnclwns arc placed on the
ranting of divorce, there w1ll he no danger of th1s.
" 2. We consider that the giving of presents hy the parents of a hride when goes
to her new home should he rega_nlecl as entirely voluntary. A bride should not expect
lOre than the hare cssent1als W1th wh1ch to start her new home and the cost of these
not exceed 15. Wealthy parents should, however, be free to give as they choose.
3. \Ve note with satisfaction that it is the custom, to a greater or lesser extent
depending on the area, for a husband to assist his wife's parents after marriage. family
tics are strengthened and the ageing are cared for. In recommending that dowry be
limited (paragraph I), we do not intend that this assistance should in any way be curtailed
or limited.
4. We do not regard the custom of fattening as repugnant, providing the expenses
which it entails are limited to what is reasonable.
5. We do not regard the practice obtaining in some areas of claiming
damages as objectionable, though an action for such should preclude an actron
for divorce on this ground.
6. We consiclar that when local councils formulate their marriage rules they should
endeavour to obtain uniformity over the widest area possible, thus facilitating inter-cl_an
marriages and removing any anomaly from them when they occur. We note Wtth
satisfaction what has been done in Owerri.
7. We consider that a reappraisal is necessary of the fact that a woman right
to a say in the choice of her future partner in life. Consent should lie with the gtrl and
the part played by parents should be limited to the giving of advice.
8. We do not consider .the time has yet arrived when the payment of dowry may
be abolished altogether, though we express the hope that with the spread of education it
will eventually disappear.
9. We have found the suggestion that polygamy should be done away with not
acceptable to the people. We express the hope, however, that monogamy will be made
the rule in the not too distant future as until this is done, women can never have the same
social status as men.
10. We recommend that our report be published.
We wish to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to all who have
written to the Committee and to all who appeared before us to give evidence.
We have the honour to be,
Your obedient servants,
M. 0. BALONWU, Chairman
A. N. Woou, Member
D. F. E. EssESSlEN, Member
F. T. F. APPAH, Member
J. G. CousiNS, Secretary
l r ~ ,
\'o. //PC. J I
Bridl Price Committee,
The Regional St"crctariat
ll>rh July, 1954
The Easrem Region Executive Council has decided to set up a Committee on
Bride Prier. The rerms of reference are as follows:-
"To imestigate the social effects of the payment of Bride Price in the Eastern
Region and to make any recommendations to Executive Council it might
think lit "ith a ,iew to the removal of any anomaly or hardship."
2. The C!Wrman of the Committee is Mr M. 0. Balonwu, Barrister-at-Law,
of Onitsha, and the Members are:
.\fr D. F. E. Essessien, of Uyo.
Mr F. T. F. Appah, of Kaiama, Brass.
Mrs .\'nogu, of Umuahia-Ibeku.
J .. 411 .\'ative .4.uthorities and Local Government bodies, Tribal Unions and Pro-
fessional .4.ssociations and any private individuals interested are invited to consider
this important subject and to let the Committee Secretary have their comments on
the social effects of bride price, as it applies to their own areas. The Committee
wish to know the amount of bride price in different areas, if it has risen appreciably in
recent yean; and if so, what are the effects socially on the different sections of the
community of such a rise. If you consider the amount generally paid is too high,
what would you like it limited to ?
4. It will be appreciated if these comments could be received as soon as possible.
It is intended that the Committee should hold enquiries at various centres and details
of their itinerary will be announced shortly.
5. Communications should be addressed to:
"The Secretary,
Bride Price Committee,
The Regional Secretariat,
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient servant,
J. G. CousiNS, Secretary,
Bn'de Price Committee
Al'l'ENil\X 11
.,.,;'J:: ,_,_
1\\r I. I . I. Appah, School teacher of
I\'1rs A. N. \Vogu of Umuahia-ihcku. ma, Ora!!.?..
The itinerary is as fo1lows:-
Sunday, 29th August .
Monday, 30th August ..
Tuesday, 31st August ..
Wednesday, \st September
Thursday, 2nd September
Friday, 3rd September
Saturday, 4th September
Sunday, 5th September
Monday, 6th September
Tuesday, 7th September
Wednesday, 8th September
Thursday, 9th September
Friday, lOth September
Saturday, 11th September
Sunday, 12th September
Monday, 13th September
Tuesday, 14th September
Wednesday, 15th September. ..
Thursday, 16th September
Friday, 17th September
Saturday, 18th September
Travel to Onitsha.
lO.OO a.m. Rcssions at Onitsha.
9.00 a.m. Sessions at Nnewi.
3.00 p.m. Sessions at Ogidi.
9.00 a.m. Sessions at Awka (Day viait
from Onitsha).
\0.00 a.m. Sessions at Or\u (day visit from
\0.00 a.m. Seosions at Okigwi (day visit
from Onitsha).
10.30 a.m. Sessions at Umuahia (day visit
from Onitsha).
Dies non.
10.00 a.m. Sessions at Owerri (day visit
from Onitsha).
Travel to Port Harcourt.
\0.00 a.m. Sessions at lkwerre (Ahoada)
(day visit from Port Harcourt).
9.00 a.m. Sessions at Port Harcourt.
p.m. Travel to Abonnema.
9.00 a. m. Sessions at Abonnema.
9.00 a.m. Sessions at Abonnema (if
p.m. Return to Port Harcourt.
Dies non.
Travel to Aba.
9.00 a.m. Sessions at Aba.
lO.OO a.m. Sessions at tlyo (day visit from
Travel to Abakaliki.
10.00 a. m. Sessions at (day visit
from Abakaltkt).
J. G. CousiNS.
Bride Price Cowmattl!f
, ..........
, . ~ _, ....... )
............. , , ..... Ohd
,..,,..., l r u ~
If,..,..,,,., ..,,,.,.,,..114' ,,,,,, , .. ,.,,,,.,, .
1\I'I'LNiliX I\'
f U./ \. \u. '-1 uf
(11-;\\I.I(I(L ('J.i\:'11 AI<EA) (MI\f(f(JA!;E) JUiLES, I'JS1
of. lh. 1onf,:nccl upon Noative Authoritictt. hy
"""''"" J.S (I) (X.\""1) ol llu 1\aliw i\ulhorily Ordin;mce, the following

h("('ll r11adt hy lht lkwcrre-Etdu: Federated Native Authority

wrlh llu: approval of lht l.iculcll<lllt-C;ovt:rnor of the EaHtcrn f{cgion:
I. 'l'll(sc l"llle!i m;ay he cited :IS the: lkwcrrcEtchc Federated Short lille
Aulhority (lkwerre Clan Area) (Marrial(e) f(ule
, f'J5), and hall come
1111o operatum on the IHI August, I'J53.
2. In lhese rules:-
"area" means the lkwerre Clan Area of the lkwcrre-Etche Federated
Native Authority.
::dowr(' .
marnagc mcuns a rnarna.'(C conlractcc..l under the Nat1ve Law
and Custom of the lkwerre Clan of the lkwerre-Etche Federated
Native Authority hctwccn pcnmns one or hoth of whom are
subject to the jurisdiction of the Native Authority;
"native authority" means the Ikwerre-Etche Federated Native
"native court" mcan!i the Elclc, INiokpo, hoha, f{umuji and Obia
Native Court;
"petty cxpenseN'' includes any presents preliminary to the payment
of any 1lowry payable in respect of any marriage;
"registrar" mcanN a registrar of marriages for the purposes of
these rules.
3. (I) Notwithstanding any custom or practice to the contrary the Peny
maximum amount of petty expenses with rcspec..1: to any marriage shall

not exceed either in value or in money the sum of five pounds. five pounds.
(2) Subject to the provisions of this rule petty expenses shall be
distributed to the following persons in the following proportions-
(i) to the male members of the family of the bride, three pounds;
(ii) to the female members of the family of the bride, two pounds.
(3) Any person who pays any sum in excess of five pounds as petty
expenses after the coming into operation of these rules or any person
who pays to any person mentioned in this rule any sum in excess of the
proportion therein permitted or any sum as petty expenses to any person
not therein named, may recover the same from the person or persons to
whom it hoas been puid in a Native Coun.

of marriage.
Form of
\2) Tlw paitt to tlw father and the motlwr of the'. or if ht. tnhtr. he dt'i.T3Sf"d. to the male guardian of the bride in
the ft\llowing pn,portions:
Fathtr. twentY pounds.
\lnthcr. ten pounds.
(3) :-\ny pen-on who pays any sum in excess of thirty as
dowry ;Ute-r tht t."'Oining into operation of these rules or any person who
any sum as dowry to a person other than to the appropriate p_crson
named in this rule may recover the same from the person to whom 1t has
been paid in a :\'ati,e Court.
3. :\ny person who demands, pays or receives any sun1 as petty expenses
or as dowl") in exeess of the sums permitted under the provisions of rules
3 and 4 of these rules shall be guilty of an offence and liable upon con-
viction by a :\ative Court to a fine of five pounds or to imprisonment for
two months or to both such fine and imprisonment.
6. So soon as may be after the coming into operation of these rules
the :\'ative Authority shall establish a registry of marriages for the purposes
of these rules at the Elele, Isiokpo, Isoba, Rumuji and Obia Native Court.
_ . i. The Court Clerk of the Elele, Isiokpo, Isoba, Rumuji and Obia
l"atne Court shall be the Registrar of Marriages for the purposes of these
rules for the area of the jurisdiction of the Court at which they are
8. (I) Any marriage contracted within the area after the coming
into operation of these rules shall be registered in the appropriate registry
by the registrar.
(2) It shall be the duty of the husband and of the father or guardian
of the bride to register any such marriage within seven days of its
(3) Any person whose duty it is to register a marriage and who fails
t? do so within the appropriate time shall be guilty of an offence and
!table upon conviction by a Native Court to a fine of five pounds or two
months imprisonment.
(4) Upon the Native Court convicting a person under the provisions
of this rule it shall order the registration of the marriage in question to
be effected forthwith.
9. (I) The registrar shall keep a register for the purpose of these
rules in which entries of the marriage celebrated shall be recorded in the
order of their date; and every entry so made shall be dated on the day on
which it is so entered and signed by the registrar.
(2) Upon the payment of five shillings the registrar shall furnish to
each party to the marriage a copy of the entry in the register, which copy
&hall he known as a Marriage Certificate.
Ill. (I) The tlu lollowing ral1.!\ in the
vith respct:l to the hushand, the wde 0111(1 parcnlK of the huRhand and
vife rc!'pn:tiYely (if Ji,ing):
(i) Names.
(ii) Addresses.
(iii) Occupations.
(2) In addition the registrar shall record:
(i) the age:; of the hushund anJ wife wherever possihlc;
(ii) whether the wife was a spinster, a widow or a divorced woman
at the time of the marriage anU
(iii) full details of the amount of pettr expenses and dowry paid
and the persons to whom 1t was paad.
(3) Where the bride is a divorced woman. the registrar shall also
record the Court in which the divorce was ohtamed, the number of the
suit and the arnount of clowry, if any, which was repaid through the Court.
(4) Any entry made in the register shall be signed or witnessed by
the husband and the father or of the bride in the presence of
two who shaH also sign or witness the entry.
11. The registrar shall allow any person to search the register and Searcba.
shall give a certified copy of any entry upon payment of a fee of two
shillings and sixpence.
12. The registrar shall retain custody of the register and no register c:.tocly.
shall be removed from the custody of the registrar without the authority
in writing of the :-lative Authority or by an order of a Native Court.
StGNIFIW in accordance with the Standing Rules and Orders of the
Ikwerre-Etche Federated Native Authority, and sealed with the Corporate

Federated Native J\uthority on 29th day of

M. I. DtMKPA, Administrative Secretary J. MPI, l'TesidenJ

of the Eastern Region,
By His Honour's Command,
Civil Secretary, Eastem Region