Reviving Eleme Kingdom’s Eroding Traditional Marriage Rites
The richness, beauty and uniqueness of the fast eroding traditional marital rites of Eleme people was in full display as Princess Nma Appolus Chu, daughter of HRH Appolus Chu, the Oneh-Eh Nchia X and Egbere Emere Okori, was given out in marriage to her heartthrob, Ajirioghene Ilaye, recently in Eleme, Rivers State.
What played out few days before the traditional marriage ceremony proper held on Saturday, May 22 at the palace of King Appolus Chu in Ogale Eleme, was the good old days’ marriage traditional rites of Eleme people as the Egbere Emere Okori didn’t leave any stone unturned in his efforts to revive the true meaning of tradition that has almost gone into extinct in a true ambiance and radiance of royalty as Princess Nma was made to observe the all the traditional marriage rites of Eleme during her marriage ceremony. Speaking on the inspiration behind the elaborate traditional marriage rites which were observed for a few days before the main marriage ceremony, HRH Chu said, “I fear that among my people of Eleme, my generation might be the last generation that still retains a little knowledge of our custom and culture if nothing is done to address it.
“My interest in this whole ceremony is to awaken the consciousness of my people, as a traditional ruler of the land and one of the custodians of the traditions and cultures of the land, so that we can save what we have of our culture and tradition and hand it down to the generations to come.”
Chu explained further that custom and culture checkmate a people’s behaviour, enforce morality and compel them to live in peace, harmony, decency, discipline and orderliness in the overall interest and protection of the kingdom. HRH Chu who expressed sadness over the eroding culture of Eleme and African in general, noted, “one custom and way of life of the people of Eleme that has suffered severe neglect in recent times is our traditional marriage rites. More and more of our people now place more emphasis on court and Church weddings at the expense of the traditional Eleme marriage rite thereby forcing that rich cultural heritage of our people into extinction.
“One doesn’t need to look far to infer that the rate of divorce and broken marriages in our society today can be attributed to the denigration of our traditional wedding.”
He said that “marriage is the institution of a new home, the continuation of the lineage of progenitors passed into descendants yet unborn. So, Eleme marriage is an affair that takes the past, present and future of the society into consideration.”
Eleme traditional marriage is a very serious affair. It is one that ties not only the man and his wife, but also their families together into one. Not only that, Eleme people place such importance on the marriage institution that there is a part of the marriage rites that involves the ancestors.
So, Eleme traditional marriage is quite an interesting one and involves various interesting stages that come with cultural details. Speaking on the stages involved in the Eleme traditional marriage ceremony, HRH Chu said, “The first stage is when the groomto-be and his family come with drinks to indicate their interest in the maiden. However, there is nothing attached to the drink so that the family of the maiden is not compelled to repay the drink if they refuse the young man’s proposal.
“If the man crosses the first stage, his family will be informed and invited to collect the list from where they would proceed to the next stage which is Oko-oburu Otoor, meaning knocking of door or wine carrying and on and on the different stages till the cure traditional marriage is held” he explained further It is obvious that there is an urgent need to revive Eleme traditional marriage. Firstly, is for the strong bond and family ties it builds among the new couple and their families. These ties have a way of fostering peace, brotherhood and communal spirit among the people. This is unlike the white-wedding borrowed from the West, which instils a sense of individualism in the couple.
Eleme traditional marriage, on the other hand, sees the new home as a continuation of the lineage of both families and fosters a sense of belonging in the couple. Rather than feeling isolated in their new home, they feel a sense of inclusiveness and belonging to something bigger than just the husband and wife.
It is this sense of belonging that encourages the newly formed home to see the need to contribute to the wellbeing and growth of the society; because they know that they have a stake in the community.