Divorce In Igbo Culture is the process through which two couples separate. It is known as “Igba alukwaghi m” in the Igbo language. Divorce is frowned upon by the Igbo people, and it is only utilized as a last alternative in cases of fighting between spouses and in situations where all efforts to reunite couples fail.
When a couple faces marital problems that are beyond their ability to handle on their own, they take the issue to the village and bring in the elders in an attempt to solve the problem. However, when even the elders’ efforts appear to be futile and the couples are steadfast in their desire to separate, divorce is unavoidable.
When discussing the proper method to handle divorce in Igbo land, it is important to remember that there is a wrong way to do it. Many individuals believe that regulations are made to be broken, which has paved the way for divorce, which generates hatred and misunderstanding. Scenarios in which a guy travels to his wife’s hometown and rudely begs for the bride price he paid on her head while trashing her belongings in front of her house are terribly improper and should not be mimicked. This divorce process is unacceptable on any grounds since it is insulting and contrary to Igbo custom.
The divorce procedure in Igbo nation revolves around the expression “izuchi’ahia nwanyi,” which translates as “return of the bride money.” This ceremony is an important aspect of the divorce process, and without it, there would be no divorce in Igbo country.
The couple’s families assemble at the wife’s paternal house to complete this ceremony. The bride’s family provides beverages and even food to the husband’s family. Do not be misled; this is not a celebration; rather, it is the proper method for the couple to part amicably and without ill blood on either side; it lays the path for peaceful separation.
The role of entertaining the husband’s family is viewed as a sort of recompense for the husband’s costs paid at the introduction ceremony.
Following this procedure, the husband receives the exact sum provided to him as bride price from the father of the woman or whoever represented him in collecting the bride price. At this time, the separation is finalized, and the divorce procedure is considered to have been completed effectively.
The sacredness of marriage is one component of Igbo culture that has withstood the pressures of contemporary religion and western civilization. This is most likely due to the church and Igbo community realizing the rich qualities included in the Igbo marital custom.
To begin with, unlike Western society, which views marriage as a connection between a man and a woman, Igbos view marriage as a bond between families, clans, communities, and countries. When a guy marries a woman, he becomes an extended part of her family. This is equally true for women. As a result, marriage contracts are typically made between families (when the two parties are from the same community) or between communities (where they are of different communities). It is contracted in the presence of both families’ kindred. A marital contract has four to seven steps, depending on the Igbo culture involved. All reservations regarding the bride and groom’s character are dispelled during the process of taking the steps. This contains the families and lineage (agburu) from whence they descended. The revelation of unacceptable characteristics implies that the opposite party may elect to withdraw from the contract before the marriage is finalized.
The majority of the processes involve asking inquiries (iju ajuju) about the character of the bride and groom in order to avoid any features that may lead to quarrels or separation in the future. Another crucial phase is ineta uma (getting to know the character), sometimes known as courting. During this time, the female engaged spends a few weeks living with her suitor. She is able to learn about her future husband’s personality and character while also learning about her own. The marriage procedure is often extensive, and custom bans anybody from entering into a marriage without first going through the stages.
Marriage is seen as a life-long commitment that must never be broken. It also recognizes that marriages are not perfect and counsels their children accordingly. It stresses that a man or woman must sustain his or her marriage under all circumstances and must constantly recondition himself or herself to ensure the continuation of his or her married life. “A wife/husband is like a package,” as the proverb goes. Nobody knows the content very well. But when you come home, you accept whatever you find in your own packet. If you’re lucky, you might be able to find some wonderful soup and pounded yam to eat. If you’re unfortunate, you can come upon a snake or a scorpion. Whatever you discover, you must learn to live with it.”
Divorce does exist, although it is rarely used. Divorce is frowned upon by the society. People who get divorced are blamed regardless of their explanations. It is considered that they were just unable to manage a family. Neither of the families will support the dissolution of their children’s marriages. Divorce is an equally intricate and unpleasant process. This makes it difficult for divorcees to marry again since others shun them because they believe they do not have an acceptable and marriageable way of life. Most of them are forced to go to cities in order to marry someone from a different community or clan. However, the ajuju (questions) stage of the new marriage they intend to contract will generally put a halt to their plans when their new suitor realizes that they are “martially in-acceptable.” Such individuals may end up marrying non-Igbos or remaining single for the remainder of their life.
Divorce is also a complicated procedure, which discourages people from getting divorced. Both spouses’ families will have to convene multiple times in the same way that they did to contract the marriage. They assemble not to terminate the marriage, but to discuss issues with their children’s family. The first to assemble are generally the male’s relatives, who are looking for explanations why their son’s marriage is failing. After conducting a thorough investigation, they will assign responsibility and offer advice to both the husband and wife, restoring family harmony and life. If a flaw in the woman is discovered, they may (in a difficult situation) recommend her to her own father’s family for guidance and counsel.
A marriage cannot be contracted or annulled by a single person or couple. Most family members will refuse to become involved in dissolving a marriage since it is considered improper by the ancestors. It is believed that even our forefathers had marital troubles, and while problems are unavoidable, they would not have given birth to us if they had divorced. Why should we consequently choose to end our own marriage rather than bear another generation? Because the couple cannot dissolve their marriage without the consent of their relatives, they frequently become exhausted by the complexities of the resolution procedure and return home to manage their family issues. They also gain superior family management skills from their kindred’s more experienced elders. In Igboland, divorce is a final but very unusual option.
A guy who decides to become polygamous does so to assist his aging wife. He usually talks to her and sometimes includes her in the bride selection process. A guy will not marry a new wife to belittle an older one. In this sense, a new wife loves and appreciates an older wife since she sanctioned her marriage. The ladies generally share their love equally. The society frowns on any notion that a guy prefers one woman over another. As a result, a guy will not divorce his wife because he has or preferred another.
In Igboland, polygamy entails complementing rather than extra spouses. This is why a guy will seldom marry a new wife against his elder wife’s wishes. This is also why, as a result of modernization, most Igbo women today prefer to live as lone wives rather than having nwunye di (co-wives). Apart from being considered more fiscally prudent, the new institution of monogamy demonstrates the choice of Igbo women and exhibits the respect that Igbo men have for their spouses.
ABOUT THE PROPERTY RIGHTS OF WOMEN
Igbo culture is mostly patrilineal. Women are always expected to marry and enjoy the wealth in their husband’s family. Their inheritance is held by their husband rather than their father. This is also one of the reasons why women can’t afford to be single or divorced. This inheritance pattern cannot be described as discriminatory or denial of rights, but rather as an organized pattern of property ownership. It is illogical for women to have inheritance rights from both their fathers’ and their husbands’ houses. Men guard holy lands and family shrines. A woman may marry in a distant hamlet or town, or even into another tribe. What will she do with her father’s land in his hometown now that she no longer belongs there? Anyone who does not belong to a community through a patrilineal process is considered a stranger, regardless of how long he resides there. Owning and living in a house in a town to which you do not belong is equivalent to owning the same in a metropolis.
When people hold property in cities and towns other than their hometowns, they may opt to leave it to their daughters. It is recommended that those who choose to do so do it legally, because when their father dies, the male offspring become custodians of their father’s possessions, while the women migrate to their husband’s house and assume custody of the holdings there. However, no matter what legislation is mentioned in the will, possessions in the man’s ancestral house CANNOT be willed to a woman.
In Igbo tradition, the bride’s money is refunded. (Divorce In Igbo Culture)
Under Igbo custom, whether a woman wishes to divorce her husband or a man divorces his wife, the lady must go through specific ceremonies known as Izuchi’ahia Nwanyi.
A double-decker marriage is practiced in Nigeria. Couples marry in accordance with the Marriage Act as well as customary law and custom.
It seems to reason that when a marriage is set to be dissolved, it is done in accordance with both laws.
The procedure begins with the separated couple’s relatives meeting at her father’s house.
Alcoholic drinks, food, and kola keep the visitors engaged. The mother and her family pay for the refreshments.
When her hand was sought for marriage during the Igbankwu, it was the guy who arrived carrying presents and amused the guests. She must now do so.
At the end of the meeting, the woman’s father or the person who got the bride price must repay the husband the exact amount spent.
This is significant because the bride payment serves as proof that the marriage occurred; without a bride price, there is no lawful marriage under Igbo customary law. The bride fee return proves that the marriage is finished.
If the husband refuses to accept the reimbursement of the bride money, the issue will be handled by the council of elders, Ndi Ichie. In some situations, the case is brought before a customary or native court.
A woman cannot own a life in Igbo culture. Her life is seen to belong to her husband or father, and hence the children are not hers.
There is no controversy or disagreement regarding who the child or children should be with because the child belongs to the father, except that he did not pay the bride price during the marriage.