Marriage among the Igbo of Nigeria By :Celestine A. Obi

ii) Definition

We are not here concerned with the learned definitions by law students. Rather our problem is: How would two local people getting married define the step they are about to take? What does Igbo custom or tradition call marriage? The present author put the question to several people of different walks of life. Surprisingly enough, some did not consider it necessary to answer the question. An old farmer called it a union of a man and a woman leading to that of the two extended families. Another informant said it is a lasting union between a man and a woman.

Dr. Obi defines it as: “… the union between a man and a woman for the duration of the woman’s life, being normally the gist of a wider association between two families or sets of families” (8). This learned definition repeated what my informants who are simple people, have said and added more specification, with regards to the length of time and its social import for the woman.

For the ordinary Igbo, marriage is the lawful living together of man and woman of different families for the purpose of begetting children after some rites have been performed. It is regarded as a mite-stone in the life of a man and a woman, which will enable them to immortalise their remembrance through their children. They regard consent as the most important element. top

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