Nigeria : In pictures: Nigerian Igbo wedding

panafrica

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jamesfrmphilly said:
i was gonna ask how all dem African women got all dat straight hair........
Again without knowing the women in question, I would assume them African sisters have perms in their hair (just like our own African American sisters do) or that they might be wearing wigs. Despite popular opinion there are a number of African women who do both of these things, just like many AA woman.

Now back to Igbo wedding traditions….I would like to know how the ceremony is performed?
 

kemetkind

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panafrica said:
Kemetkind:

I believe the primary reason for your confusion is that you’re being presumptuous. You are both over analyzing the pictures of this article and making assumptions without knowing the facts. Your first assumption is that I included the bride in the statement that “black women are beautiful”, and that I was referencing this article specifically when I co-signed brother Militant’s statement; instead of my agreeing with the statement in general. The second assumption that you are making is about this woman’s heritage, without knowing exactly what it is (neither one of us does). The bride could be a light skinned black person, they do exist you know (I happen to be one of them). One thing which too many people don’t seem to realize is that skin tone differences are natural within the black race. I know many continental Africans from Kenya and Nigeria (Igbo) that are light brown skinned with absolutely no racial mixture. Just because a black person isn’t as dark as Manute Bol or Alec Wek doesn’t automatically mean they have mixed blood. This being said, the bride could actually be a mulatto (which also exist in Africa) just like the two mulattos you are comparing her to. That being the case, it would render the point you are trying to make moot! Again without knowing I can not say, and neither can you.

There are two major factors that makes the couple in the “black and white twin” article not black but biracial. One is their direct lineage, and the second is their self identification. Their appearance is not the most important consideration. Their heritage is the most important consideration and that heritage will determine their self identification. That being the case: It isn’t what “I” (PanAfrica) consider them to be, but what they consider themselves to be. Indeed what they consider themselves to be, and how that consideration is manifested in their social-behavior (dating, marriage, and mating). The two individuals who became parents of those black and white twins are biracial. They classify “themselves” as biracial, and that identification is based on their having parents who belong to different races. Since they have a parent of another race who not only created them; but raised them, there is no other basis to classify themselves as anything differently than biracial. In this particular case though, while these two individuals might “look black” to some, their white parentage was/is present in their genes and manifested itself through one of their offspring (who is definitely beyond being light skinned).

Now back to the heritage of the Igbo bride, she could be very well be biracial. I really have no way of telling and I don’t really care! It isn’t important to the topic of Igbo wedding traditions. However if she is biracial, then I’m glad she decided to marry a black man, instead of continuing her black parent’s example of diluting the black race. I’ve stated before that a marriage/mating between a mulatto and a black man/woman is the only “interracial” relationship I approve of; as it is the only one that comes close to the goal of continuing the existence of the black people.

Now that this has been said….those are some beautiful outfits in that wedding aren’t they?
I don't agree with much in your post, as I find it wholly ironic when viewed in the context of your other race discussions (I do hope you don't presumptously mistake this irony with "confusion" as you did with "fascination")!

But in the spirit of common ground, I'll focus on that which I do agree.

1) You're correct, I (too) am being presumptous.

I presumed you identified the bride as black because, naturally, I would. If I saw either the african bride or the twins' mother walking in the grocery store I'd give no second thought to what percentage of non-black blood coursed their veins.... I see them both as sisters. Quietest kept, I suspect you'd do the same, as presumptous as it may be.

Which leads me to 2)
panafrica said:
I really have no way of telling and I don’t really care! It isn’t important to the topic of Igbo wedding traditions.
Ditto. But not only unimportant to Igbo weddings, but unimportant period. No real value is to be gained by defining black people out of the race, especially when you've conceeded more often than not you've "no way of telling...

PEACE brother
 

militant

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Bro Kemetkind, what Bro Pan says are not contradictory. There are natural variations among blacks in Africa, as well as variations due to mixture. And quite honetly, one cannot pin down the bride's features to pure racial mixture.

For example, my great grandfather, (whose picture I have by the way) looked almost like a morrocan. But he had no known history of recent migration. Infact his ancestry was a long line of drummers and artists in his village. His daughter, my grandmother, was referred to as "The Red Mama", because of her high yellow skin tones, again another natural variation. My brother looks like a dark brown Ethiopian with curly hair, again, another natural variation. And not all Africans have flat noses, you need to see my sister and my dad.

Now obviously these variations do not occur at an epidemic, but they do exist. I once met one of the most beautiful african woman ever, while I was a child, who was dark but had natural green eyes and brown hair.

Those women could easily have added weaves to their hair. They could have just straightened their long hair. Africans do actually have long hair.
A Fulani woman with "straight hair"
http://www.eldis.org/pastoralism/pare/gallery1/images/ELDISad06_JPG_JPG.jpg
 

I-khan

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militant said:
Bro Kemetkind, what Bro Pan says are not contradictory. There are natural variations among blacks in Africa, as well as variations due to mixture. And quite honetly, one cannot pin down the bride's features to pure racial mixture.

For example, my great grandfather, (whose picture I have by the way) looked almost like a morrocan. But he had no known history of recent migration. Infact his ancestry was a long line of drummers and artists in his village. His daughter, my grandmother, was referred to as "The Red Mama", because of her high yellow skin tones, again another natural variation. My brother looks like a dark brown Ethiopian with curly hair, again, another natural variation. And not all Africans have flat noses, you need to see my sister and my dad.

Now obviously these variations do not occur at an epidemic, but they do exist. I once met one of the most beautiful african woman ever, while I was a child, who was dark but had natural green eyes and brown hair.

Those women could easily have added weaves to their hair. They could have just straightened their long hair. Africans do actually have long hair.
A Fulani woman with "straight hair"
http://www.eldis.org/pastoralism/pare/gallery1/images/ELDISad06_JPG_JPG.jpg
YESSSSSSSS, militant I a very familiar with the phenotypical variations of black people in Afrika and abroad.Not all black Afrikans have nappy hair and big lips,or and overbite(progmatism). I knew an absolutey BEAUTIFULL woman from southern Ethiopia whom had straight hair and whose ancestors(according to her) came from Congo.
 

panafrica

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kemetkind said:
I presumed you identified the bride as black because, naturally, I would. If I saw either the african bride or the twins' mother walking in the grocery store I'd give no second thought to what percentage of non-black blood coursed their veins.... I see them both as sisters. Quietest kept, I suspect you'd do the same, as presumptous as it may be.
I assume "black looking" people are black until given evidence to the countrary. When I am presented with this evidence, I do not stubbornly hold on to my original assumption (especially since this correction is usually made by the individual themselves).

kemetkind said:
No real value is to be gained by defining black people out of the race, especially when you've conceeded more often than not you've "no way of telling...PEACE brother
Again I act on the information "voluntarily" presented. That being said, most people of mixed race have no problems telling people their heritage. Indeed they are often quite proud of it (just as I'm proud of my blackness and nothing else). This pride and heritage is often not only evident in their politics but their social behavior as well. Both of which usually stands in direct opposition to not only where the black community needs to go for its prosperity but continued existance! How so you might ask? I'll tell you: There is a major difference between a black person who is light and one who is mulatto (even if they look similar in appearance). The mulatto calls a white person (or a non-black) mother or father. As a result they have the same identity, loyalty, and sympathy towards the community that produced their parent, that any other person naturally would identify with; be loyal to; and sympathize with one of their parents. The black person who is light does not have this issue because they call black people mother and father. That is the difference, and that difference makes all the difference in the world!
 

HODEE

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Great article I enjoyed it.
 

panafrica

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HODEE said:
Great article I enjoyed it.
Here is more information on Nigerian weddings for those who are interested:

Today the old traditional weddings are changing and are becoming more like the Western-style church weddings. This has more or less become norm in Nigeria today. Eventhough you are born and raised in Nigeria it is still likely to have a Western-style wedding when you are getting married. And the wedding is usually with a church ceremony with a white bride and a reception after the ceremony. The reason behind this can be the Nigerian Church and the missionaries who influenced the Church and the African tribes. But there are some tribes in Nigeria who still live after the old traditions and are preforming the tradtioally wedding ceremonies.

The first step in the wedding process is the first meeting with the both involving families where they investigate each other. At this occation they groom's family donate some gifts to the bride's family, consisting mostly of cattles, yams or money. After this the ceremony the bride comes to live with the groom and his family, and if that turns out to work out a weddingfeast is held. After thet ceremonial feast he bride is concidered married to the groom and his family.

Today's Nigerian weddings tend to follow the Western style traditions which means that the weddings are held in Churches with with dresses, suit, reception etc. But during the reception bride couples usually wear traditional clothes have traditional food and a combination of Aerican and traditional music. Here two diffrent cultures are meeting and this is something that has become more common in the Nigerian weddings today. The Western societies are influencing the African societies with the traditional Western wedding norms with white dresses, receptions etc.

The bride should be a virgin befor the actual wedding, but today there are exceptions. Nowadays the couples usually want to ensure themselves that they can have children, so the bride could be pregnant at the wedding or all ready have children. But this is not allowed in the Nigerian areas with Christian religion. Polygamy marriages exist and are legal in Nigeria, but again the Christian religion forbids it. Pologamy marriages have though become less common in today's Nigeria. This is due to the fact that a man in such a marriage is responsible to provide for his family and to provide for a family is expensive. Because of the economical situation in Nigeria it has become less common with polygamy marriages.

http://www.eng.umu.se/vw/Culture/African weddings.htm
 

militant

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Thanks Bro Pan. Thats a very true Article. Africans are embracing Western styles of wedding like as if its a fashion trend or status thing. Anyways here is an article on the wedding ceremony performed in Nigeria, which focuses on Yoruba traditions.

YORUBA TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE BY OLUFEMI



Introduction

Yoruba marriage customs have been greatly influenced by contact with other cultures, but the Yorubas have nevertheless retained their own individual traditions and methods. In Nigeria today, there are four main types of marriage: traditional, marriage by mutual consent, a gift-bride, and the levirate. There are three major religions: traditional, Christian, and Muslim, and each type of wedding can be adapted to one or all of the religions. Some weddings may be only legal and not religious at all. Traditional Yoruba weddings, which may be adapted to Christianity or Islam, are arranged by the parents of the individuals who marry. The bride and groom are betrothed for several years. There is an exchange of bride wealth, gifts that the groom's family gives to his fiancee's family. There is an elaborate system of gift-giving and expectations of all the parties involved. Although contact with Europe and the Middle East has greatly influenced Yoruba culture, many of the traditional methods and expectations of marriage exist today.



Yoruba Traditional Marriage

In Yoruba culture, nearly everyone marries. Traditionally, Yorubas practice polygamy. Although western contact has changed customs and rituals in every area to some extent, in some ways traditional beliefs about marriage remain intact in Yorubaland, although they are now expressed in different ways. There were several purposes, traditionally, to marriage. One of the most important was creating ties between families. According to Mann, Yoruba marriage is " a union of lineages, not individuals " (1985: 37). Traditional marriages were arranged, and they did not necessarily involve love or romance at all, but they joined two separate families as well as providing for children and starting a man in his own life, separate from his father.

For the man involved, marriage had many advantages. It enabled him to have (legitimate) children, and it provided him with domestic help. In modern times, only a few men choose to stay single, and they are Christian in religion rather than traditional or Muslim. For the woman, marriage provided financial security, although women had their own incomes and might even be richer than their husbands, and social status. However, some Yorubas could not easily marry. Since marriage affects one's extended family and relatives as much as oneself, families make extensive inquiries about a potential mate for their sons and daughters. If a person could be a carrier of a hereditary disease, or if one had a severe physical or mental problem, such as insanity, leprosy, or epilepsy, one might be unable to marry. Some also could not marry because they had lost their extended family to some tragedy and so had no one to arrange a marriage for them.



Remarriage and Alternative Weddings

There are four main types of marriage in Yorubaland: traditional, marriage by mutual consent, giving a bride as a gift, and levirate. Each type may be adapted to some or all of the major Yoruba religions: traditional religion, Christianity, and Islam. Traditional marriages are the only native type, and the other three came with modern influence and religion. The first is the traditional arranged marriage ceremony involving betrothal, bride wealth, and so forth. This type of marriage can be adapted to traditional, Christian, or Muslim religion. The Muslim marriage is not extremely different from the traditional one, described in detail throughout the rest of this paper. A Christian wedding is sometimes popular because the wedding ceremony itself involves a lot more pomp and celebration than a traditional wedding. Christian weddings include the exchange of vows and rings, a wedding cake, a ceremony in an elaborately decorated church, and a party after the ceremony. However, Christian weddings are also unpopular because they are by law monogamous.

The second type of wedding is an informal one by mutual consent of the individuals involved. This is becoming more common in modern times. These weddings can also be Christian or sometimes Muslim or just legal and not religious. They usually do not involve as much ceremony as the first type, nor do they always involve the payment of bride wealth to the girl's family. Courting for this type of marriage is done directly by the parties involved, usually with their parent's consent, and not by intermediaries as is traditional.

The third type, a gift, is usually a Muslim wedding and not Christian or traditional. If a girl is troublesome or wild, or if a girl's father wishes to show special honor to a friend, he may give his daughter as a gift to a husband with no exchange of dowry. Her father may do this to show his generosity. He may also do it to bring her under control in the close supervision of her husband's home and his older wives. The fourth type of marriage is called the levirate. If a woman's husband dies, she may be inherited by another member of his family, such as a brother or cousin. If she does not like the man who is to inherit her, she can sue for divorce. This type of marriage can be Muslim or traditional, but not Christian.

Finding a Spouse

Traditional weddings in the past were always arranged by the families of the bride and groom. The family insured that the marriage was appropriate and socially acceptable, and it went to great lengths to make certain that the marriage was a good match and would be happy and prosperous. However, its efforts were focused more on the general acceptability of the prospective mate than on his or her specific desirability for the son or daughter for whom they sought a spouse. The family of a young man begins to seek his wife usually after he goes through puberty. Girls could be betrothed between the ages of five and ten. For a man's first marriage, his parents and extended family made the arrangements, found the girl, and paid the bride-price; for later marriages, he did it for himself, or his senior wife might do it. A family seeking a wife for one of its sons had several considerations. They sought a girl who lived close enough for the union to be convenient and who was healthy and came from a good, responsible, healthy family. They could not marry their son to a blood relative, even a distant one. They also sought a girl with good parents. They inquired about her mother's character, assuming the girl was likely to turn out like her mother. They also avoided a girl whose parents were immoral, for then she might be the same, or careless with money, for a man could be saddled with his father-in-law's debts.

Once a boy's parents found a girl they considered suitable, usually 10-15 years his junior, an intermediary approached the girl's family. Her parents then made the same inquiries about his family, searching for a relationship to themselves, for diseases, and anything else that could make the marriage unsuccessful, unproductive, or a liability to the family. If the results of these inquiries were unfavorable, the girl's parents would not say so directly, but they would consult the Ifa priest. Then they would tell the parents of the young man that the divination was unfavorable, and that would end it. If, on the other hand, the family was acceptable, this response would be communicated through an intermediary, and the engagement was sealed by payment of the ijowun, a gift from the man's family to the girl's and the first installment of the bride-price.

Today, the vast majority of Yorubas no longer practice arranged marriages. Western contact has influenced them so that most marriages are based on the choice of the individuals involved. Parents approve of one's choice and pay a bride-price (Delano, 1937: 121). This is the second type of marriage, marriage by mutual consent.



Betrothal

Throughout the betrothal period, which lasted 10-15 years, until the girl was about 20, the girl called the man her oko, husband, and he called her his iyawo, bride. She was not permitted to meet or speak to her husband or to members of his family, except in some Yoruba groups which allow the groom to pay an extra bride-price fee: owo ibasuro, money for speaking. This is not a very widespread custom; for the most part, traditionally, engaged couples did not speak at all.

The bride-price was usually paid in two installments, the ijowun and the idana. The ijowun consisted of pepper, kolas, beer, wine, gin, bitter kola, and honey. It was paid when the girl's parents accepted the man for their daughter, and it legally sealed the engagement. The second installment, the idana, included the same things as the ijowun plus some cloth wrappers. Bride-wealth could also be paid in three installments: the engagement sealing, " love money " paid before the girl's third year of puberty, when she became marriageable, and " wife money " paid just before the wedding.

On the days when dowry payments were sent, the households of both the man and the girl feasted and celebrated separately all day. When delegates from the groom arrived with the dowry, the girl's family would carefully examine all the articles to see if any were defective. If they were, they would be returned to be exchanged. Sometimes the delegates would bring replacement articles in case of such an event. If the items were acceptable, the girl would be asked if the payment should be accepted, and she would answer yes. Then the dowry was received, and the delegates who brought it were given gifts. The girl's family would beat drums to indicate that the items were good, and then the dancing in that household would begin.

There were, in traditional times, professional dowry bearers. They would receive a gift for their services from both families. When they came to the girl's house with the dowry, they would say, " We spied a red rose in your garden, and we come to pick it." The girl's father would reply that they had no red rose for the guests. This would continue for a while until the dowry bearers were invited inside and the dowry was accepted or refused. When the dowry had been accepted, the bearers, after receiving a gift, would return home singing, " We won our case, certainly. They gave us a daughter, certainly " (Delano, 1937: 127-128). Bride wealth is also paid for a Christian marriage, but it is done a little differently. Christian weddings in Nigeria usually take place on Thursday, and the entire dowry payment is made on the previous Tuesday and called and engagement party. The articles are the same as for a traditional wedding, but Christian grooms also give the girl's family a Bible and a gold ring.

The dowry was not, for the most part, retained by either the girl or her family. The cloth wrappers of the idana went to the girl, and her father might keep a bottle of wine from either or both of the dowry payments. The rest of the items were distributed to the girl's friends and to clubs of which she was a member. If she was involved in many groups and had many friends, each might only receive a small gift, such as one kola nut.

Bride wealth served several important purposes. Legally, it was the most important factor to be settled in the event of a divorce: to divorce her husband, a woman must return his bride wealth. It represented the commitment to the marriage by both individuals and their families, and it was a safeguard against breaking that commitment. It kept the wife from cheating on or disrespecting her husband because it would have to be repaid for her to leave him. It also prevented the husband from mistreating his wife because he had made a large financial investment in her. The ijowun could act to reserve a young girl as a wife for an older man until she grew up. Finally, the bride-price legally established the woman's husband as the father of her children. .A proverb about this says, " One who does not own a kola tree cannot have its fruit " (Bascom, 1969: 60).

When a woman reached marriageable age (the third year of puberty), her body was decorated with beauty marks by a surgeon. Her fiancee was required to pay for this and to provide the necessary materials, such as oil, dye, etc. This was also a hint to the bridegroom to go ahead and set a date for the wedding. He did this also through his intermediary, and he was required to show eagerness for the date to be sooner rather than later.



Relatives

A groom-to-be had many obligations to fulfill to his in-laws in addition to paying the bride-price. He had to pay annual gifts of the best of his farm's produce to them. This was not a hardship as these gifts were always very small. He also was required to be available to help his father-in-law with manual labor and farmwork if he were asked. When his father-in-law asked him for help, which was done most often in building and rebuilding houses, the groom would go to help along with his egbe, his group of friends and age mates. They would spend the day working on the father-in-law's farm, doing whatever was asked of them. Also, sons-in-law were responsible for giving gifts and services on special occasions, particularly upon the death of the parents or grandparents of his wife or fiancee.

Yorubas often prefer daughters to sons, for a son-in-law is more valuable than a son. He is always required to be respectful and helpful to his wife's family. Fadipe says, " to have many daughters is to have many people to call into one's service " (1970: 77). If a groom-to-be fails to fulfill his obligations to his fiancee's family, the engagement may be broken off, the dowry returned, and a more resourceful suitor sought.

Wedding Ceremonies

Compared to the large celebrations associated with dowry payments, the traditional wedding ceremony was often a fairly quiet affair, but it still involved much celebration. On the morning of her wedding day, the bride was bathed and dressed by her father's wives. Then she went to her parents and was received with honor by them for the first time in her life. Her father would greet her and bless her. Then her mother, weeping, would also bless her and talk to her about married life and home management. Both mother and daughter would weep and embrace and say their first farewells. The girl then spent most of the day quietly in her room with her best friends while the rest of the household danced and feasted.

Towards evening, the household would sit in assembly with the head of the household presiding. He would call for the bride to come in to them because the family had decided to give her in marriage that day. She came in with her face covered and was lectured again about married life. Then came the ekun iyawo, the bride's weep. She would say some moving farewell sentences that she had memorized to her mother, family, and friends. She would weep a great deal, as would everyone else.

Then the wedding procession would leave for the groom's house. This consisted of the bride, four young men of her father's house, her egbe (age mates), four wives of her extended family, and her bridesmaid (usually a niece or first cousin). When they arrived at his home, the groom's senior wife, if he had one, carried the bride in on her shoulder. The leader of the four young men would greet the family and deliver the bride's father's message: that she should have many children, that she should not go hungry or do exactly as she wished, that she was inexperienced and not always agreeable and could be whipped if she caused offense. Then she was handed over to her father-in-law.

If she was not the first wife of her husband, she was adopted during her betrothal by one of his senior wives. This wife, who carried her into their husband's home, also washed her feet with water holding money, so she would be rich, and with an infusion of leaves, so she would bear children. Then she went to her husband's room. There was very little rejoicing in his household until she was found to be a virgin. If she was, the proof of it was sent to her family the next day with a message of thanks for preserving her for her husband. If not, a symbolic message, such as a half-full jug of palm wine or a kola nut with holes in it, was sent without a message. The meaning was understood, and the girl remained with her husband but was a disgrace to both families.

Traditionally, a woman had only one wedding ceremony in her life. If her husband died or she was divorced, she could sometimes remarry, but there would be no wedding ceremony. Men, however, could have numerous wedding ceremonies if they married several wives after a betrothal.



Polygamy

Polygamy was traditionally very acceptable and common in Nigeria, and it still is. Girls traditionally married around age 20 and men around age 35, and so, because of mortality rates, there were always more marriageable women then men. Nearly everyone in Yorubaland marries, and most men marry several wives. For men, plural wives are status symbol, indicating the possession of wealth, and wives also enable men to have more children. There are advantages for women in the system as well, for wives share chores with one another and status with their husbands. However, in more modern times, polygamy is decreasing in popularity, partly because of women's liberation attitudes and partly because of the expense of supporting such a large family.

Within a polygamous marriage, there is usually little or no jealousy among the wives. Each has a certain status with respect to the others, and each has her own responsibilities, duties, and privileges. Younger wives are responsible for child care and usually for the more unpleasant household tasks. Older wives are often traders or businesswomen and sometimes travel extensively. Junior wives must always show respect to senior wives in a compound, and this seniority is determined not by age but by date of marriage.

When a man marries a new wife, she is responsible for the most unpleasant jobs for the first year or so. If she sees another wife working, she must offer to help, and if her offer is refused, she must be persistent and offer several times. Usually, the senior wife eventually gives in to her.



Divorce

Traditionally, divorce in Yorubaland was very rare. The husband's family with whom the couple lived acted to soothe arguments, and the presence of children who belonged to her husband helped prevent a woman from seeking a divorce. Because of polygamy, men had little incentive for divorcing wives. However, even in the past women sometimes divorced their husbands for reasons of excessive abuse, habitual laziness, drunkenness, or infectious disease. Or, if a woman's husband died, she could divorce the family if she did not want to go to the man who was to inherit her.

Even today, when divorce is much more common than it used to be, the process is essentially the same. The important issue is repaying the husband his bride-price. A divorce court investigates to determine exactly how much was paid, and someone must pay the husband that amount in order for his wife to divorce him. If his wife leaves him for another man, that man pays the bride-price, and she becomes his wife.

In the past, a woman might seek a divorce because of extreme cruelty, and she would go to the king's palace and take hold of one of the pillars. If her husband found her there, he could not touch her. If a man wanted a wife, he could go there and pick one. He would then pay a clerk an agreed-upon price and take her home as his wife. Modern marriages are more likely to end in divorce. When a Christian marriage divorced, under British law the husband had to pay his wife alimony. Sometimes women took advantage of this, divorcing their husbands just to get alimony.

In Yorubaland, the modern world has influenced every area of life, and marriage and families are no exception. The Yoruba culture is flexible and resilient and has changed without being destroyed. Today, Nigerian culture is a colorful blend of African, European, and Arabic traditions. Although the traditional methods of engagement and marriage are fading out, the Yorubas put a native twist on every tradition they adopt, and their heritage continues to influence the same cultures that influence it.
 

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