Other Free Encyclopedias » Marriage and Family Encyclopedia » Marriage: Cultural Aspects » Yoruba Families - Yoruba Culture And The Meaning Of Marriage, Steps That Lead To Marriage, Oja Ale, Co-wife And Sibling Rivalry

Yoruba Families - Yoruba Culture And The Meaning Of Marriage

single parent family family spouses child steps

Yoruba culture is not static. At the same time, every generation tries to preserve aspects of the indigenous tradition. This effort is counterbalanced by the pragmatic desire of the Yoruba to appropriate change in the garb of tradition. The dialectical relationship between the unchanging aspects of Yoruba culture and the dynamics of change are fueled by two sources of human interaction. The first source of change pertains to the new conflicts in human interaction that cannot be explained by Yoruba tradition. The second is the permanent effect of contact with Islam and the West, expressed in such institutions as law, marriage, religion, education, and public health services. Tola Olu Pearce has drawn attention to the importance of situating the present resistance to women's efforts to participate in the democratic process in Africa in the context of precolonial, colonial, and postcolonial times if it is to be fully understood. As she noted, "What is of theoretical import is the fact that elements of all three historical periods interact in the present" (2000). For example, Yoruba marriage forms have been influenced by Christian and Muslim marriage practices in all the three phases even as the steps to Yoruba marriage project a decidedly traditional outer form. In marriages in contemporary Yoruba society, the modernized Yoruba cling tenaciously to this outer form as a proof of loyalty to the original culture. Traditional Yoruba courtship and marriage must be understood in the context of the impact of the precolonial, colonial, and post-colonial periods.

The family is the most sacred and significant institution to the Yoruba, who are child-centered, ruled by the elderly, and controlled by adults. The family is an effective unit of political control, religious affiliation, resource allocation, and assurance of safety. It is also the most effective agent of socialization. The family teaches the first lessons in Yoruba chilren in Ibadan, Nigeria. Many Yoruba proverbs stress that the dead give birth to the living, and the living are responsible for nurturing the children who represent the future. OWEN FRANKEN/CORBIS discipline, personal gratitude, and affection. The family is where young people are exposed to their first preferences and prejudices. In the family, the lessons in honor and shame are learned, just as are the first lessons in dissembling to avoid the truth that may injure the well-being of the community. More poignantly, it is in and through the copious lessons in religious symbolism learned in the family that one comes to understand the cyclical and connected way of life in the here and now, the future, and the hereafter. Many Yoruba proverbs reiterate the view that the dead gave birth to the living, and the living ought to give birth to and nurture the children who represent the future.

The Yoruba further cloak these sentiments in the garb of religious obligation by insisting on a notion of afterlife whose reward is the opportunity for those elders who died well or properly to come and visit their progeny on earth. They attach their soul to the two other souls of the child to be born (Bascom 1956). Eleda, the first soul, is every individual's share in divine essence. The ori is that which is unique, or that which distinguishes one from any other person. In and through the child that is born, the dead are reincarnated to temporarily be with and bless the living. The sociological significance of this notion of birth and rebirth lies in its usefulness as a social welfare policy (Zeitlin; Megawangi; Kramer; Colleta; Babatunde; and Garman 1995). It ensures that children are wanted, nurtured, and brought up to be fine examples of what the Yoruba call Omoluwabi—the well-bred child. If a parent believes a son or daughter is a reincarnation of the parent's mother or father, the parent will not abandon the child. Seen in this context, marriage for the Yoruba man or woman is a necessity. As Nathaniel Fadipe noted:

For a man or a woman who has reached the age of marriage to remain single is against the mores of the Yoruba. Men get married even when they are sexually impotent in order to save either their faces or the faces of their immediate relatives, as well as to get one to look after their domestic establishment. There are a few cases of confirmed bachelors; men, who have reached middle age without getting married even though they are in position to do so. But they are a product of modern times with its individualism, and are most invariably Christians. (1970, p. 65)

Ideally, marriage should establish the foundation of the family. When it does, marriage is a union not only of the two spouses, but the two extended families to which they belong. Marriage itself is the proof that both spouses are good products and ambassadors of their families. By successfully going through the demanding steps to the Yoruba marriage, the spouses are a good reflection on the quality of character of their families. They have shown restraint as people who are well brought up, focused, enduring, reliable, disciplined, and people who are able to defer gratification until they are ready for the responsibilities of adulthood. As the Yoruba say, "It is easy to get married; what is difficult is to provide daily food for the family" (Ati gbeyawo, kekere; owo obe lo soro). In other words, the ability to satisfy the hierarchy of human needs was critical to the Yoruba evaluation of the spouses' readiness to be united in marriage. They ought to be able to provide food and shelter and safety. They ought to have the level of commitment and patience needed to inculcate a sense of belonging and self-esteem in their children. The test of the level to which one has internalized a sense of belonging and self-esteem is manifest in the desire to excel and find self-fulfillment in the service of the family. To ensure that the spouses have the requisite level of the skills that will enable their family to find its own balance, an elaborate system of calibrated steps and activities tests the endurance of the spouses. These steps reiterate the fact that the selection of the spouse is a communal affair that involves several symbolic steps (Babatunde 1992).


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over 5 years ago

I need some info for a school project about yoruba traditional marriage in the olden days.I need a detailed write-up on the whole process and all the stages.Thanks.

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over 3 years ago

Hi there,

I am a Canadian wonam researching the Marriage Customs of the Yoruba. My husband is of that tribe and I have agreed to have a traditional wedding for his family. We have now been married just over a year, we had a small civil ceremony and now plan to have a larger ceremony to include the traditions. Due to our situation, I have yet to meet his lovely family and I am excited to do so. I require more information on what the different steps/stages are so I can choose which I would like to adjust to our family situation. I have agreed to wear the traditional dress as well, although I'm not too sure what I'm getting involved in. If you can help I'd appreciate it.



Thank you

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over 4 years ago

Yes it is true that men in general can have more than one wife if they so please. However in the olden days the Yoruba culture encouraged men to marry more than one wife for economic reasons such as farming, need for large number of children for future generation and more. At the same time there was structure in place as to how the man will get this wives. The first wife was the authority as who the next wife will be and the next and so on. Today many of the children that came out from this structure have seen the good and the bad such home structure can produce and for the yoruba men and people the bad out weighs the good i mean the desired evil the wives end up having towards each other and each others children is huge and the distruction of one another in most cases is vry sad. most of the yoruba people are doing all they can to do away with the practice of many wives. I can asure you the yoruba man you are marring is ether been there done that and he will do all he can to avoid it or knows other yoruba family that have.please do not get me wrong some have not learnt anything from the ill the this practice can bring.

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about 3 years ago

i need some information on the effect of European civilization on indigenous Yoruba marriage

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almost 6 years ago

a yoruba man can marry as many wives as possible..... but with the presence of Christianity in the yoruba culture, most men now stick to a lady.... im a young yoruba boi.

dianne pertaining to your question..... it depends on wat the man seeks personally.... its all about love this days...........

nikki, u marry wen ur a man..... been a man as in..... wen ur able to take care of urself n more........

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about 6 years ago

How many wives can a yoruba man have

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over 5 years ago

pls, I need some info on how traditional marriage was done in the olden days and the stages.I would also want some info on the bride price and introduction

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almost 7 years ago

What is the proper age for yoruba people to marry, and what steps are taken leading to marriage when dating.

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about 6 years ago

What is important to a yoruba man in a woman he wants to marry?

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almost 2 years ago

i've read your work and i've liked it but i would like to know more about the celebration of marriage in yoruba land and why don't yoruba elders accept their son or daugther to get married to a person from another tribe

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over 2 years ago

Thanks to the author for putting this together. I'm married to a Yoruba men and I'm not Yoruba or Nigerian. Based on my experience, the men are very traditional, even though they don't marry many wives, they still believes in having many kids even when they left their country. The Yoruba's in general don't compromise. When they visit your house, you have to make sure you cook the food their way or they won't touch your food.

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almost 5 years ago

I am also getting married to a Yoruba man on July 18th 2010,a nd my family and friends find it quite acceptable. But what should I expect??

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almost 5 years ago

I am marrying a Yoruba man in Feb.,is this acceptable to the family when you are an American women,what is exspected of me ?Is it true they can have more than one wife?

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almost 2 years ago

hello
my school gave me a project on types of marriage in yorubaland and the steps to marry the person i have been searching all day but i did not find it .please kindly add it today evening so i can submit my project tomorrow thanks.

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over 2 years ago

Actually the Yoruba marriages is based in Judaic/Neo Judaic culture which Jesus avocated.
A marriage acceptible by God is typically a two staged event. The first is the betrothal ( these points can be checked with any judaic teacher /the Torah etc)
Anyway the first stage ( Engagment or bethrothal) after the man has sought the womans father/familys permission to be engaged to the woman ( letter of engagment/intent of engagement . When it is allowed by the parents of the woman a first stage marriage ceremony is conducted. In Nigeria it is called THE ENGAGMENT or erroneously the Traditional marriage. The gifts which the man is to bring is what he is covenanting in the marriage to be supplying/providing for the woman ( it shows that he would take care of the woman in the marriage etc) as it is a covenant it is EXPECTED to be paid. Anyway during the Betrothal the woman andman although married are still techinically single and their marital status does not change until the second stage of the marriage ( Church or Registry or other formal ceremony ) where the woman is allowed to leave her parents house and he leave his own fathers house and they set up a home togehter as man and wife once pronounced. ONLY at this stage does their marital status change and they are husband and wife.
Under judaism as in Nigerian customs during engagment the woman is known as a wife although her status has not yet fully changed.

It was this permission that Jesus gave people in Mathew 5v32 to be seperated from their wife, as she is still considered single ( fornication according to 1 Corinthians ) considered as a single never been married sexual transgressions as opposed to adulter committed by those in marriage.

Jesus revoked MOses permit to file a divorce after the second stage of marriage has been done as He consistuted it as ADULTERY .....

Anyone that has filed a divorce against their spouses proper should repent and re store their marriages.

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over 2 years ago

please i will want you to get me a sample of proposal and acceptance
letter during the engagement.

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about 3 years ago

i need some information on the effect of European civilization on indigenous Yoruba marriage

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about 3 years ago

i need some information on the effect of European civilization on indigenous Yoruba marriage

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over 3 years ago

i am a student and i really didn't get what i want or need.

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over 4 years ago

First, I thank the writer of this piece for the effort to enlighten the world about the culture of the Yorubas and its influence on the marriage and the family.It is imperative for non-Yorubas going into marriage with the Yorubas to realize that the Yorubas believe that marriage is cultural, and so every behavior within that association will be seen from this perspective. Count the cost before you go into it. The beginning is not the end. Honey moon will soon be over. If you all know what you are heading to, and all the prevailing factors, it will guide you in your choise.

Thanks.

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almost 5 years ago

I am getting married to a yoruba man in dec, though i am also yoruba bt we are from different religions, his family insist the traditionals goes along with his religion, i don't know if this is right because i used to think that engagement ceremonies are usually organised by the brides family and in the father os the brides religion. Pls elaborate if i am getting something wrong.

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almost 5 years ago

Am an art student and doing a project about marriage on the Yoruba people. My focus is on art during the ceremony. Any help

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over 5 years ago

I am looking for informaion for a school project; at what age is a yoruban person considered an adult, and do you have any info about what is expected at different ages? Any help would be appreciated. By the way, this is a great article.

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over 5 years ago

i love the way you present your information but i want you to include on your web the marriage ceremony in hausa, igbo, and yoruba.