ITSEKIRI WEDDINGS: HOSPITALITY
As if we were in his home, the head of the Bride’s family, the Olori-Ebi, faces the entrance (Ogun-li), flanked by other relatives. The family sits awaiting the arrival of the Groom’s family. Upon their arrival at the house, the Groom’s family is entertained by the Bride’s family, thus initiating the celebration.
Temotsi traditionally involves a fair amount of theater and flair and, thus, each family will express their wishes through intermediaries or spokespersons. In Nigeria, a good host offers drinks and Kola nuts to his or her guests. Kola nuts are typically used in Nigeria as a symbol of hospitality during the marriage and naming ceremonies. Protocol and custom demand that the Groom’s family expresses appreciation and reciprocates the offering.
Itsekiri are unique among ethnic groups in Nigeria because the Groom’s family is not required to pay a bride-price. The bride-price is seen as akin to selling a daughter into bondage.
After everyone has been welcomed, the Groom’s family enthusiastically announces the purpose of their mission, the Emo-Ofo. Emo-Ofo translates to “drink for the discussion or proposal” and occurs following the presentation of a bottle of gin and two Kola nuts.
Hearing that there is a proposal to be discussed, the Bride’s family demands the presentation of the Groom for inspection. One by one, the women of her family will make sure that he has all ten fingers and toes, and that everything else is in working order. If satisfied with the inspection, the women will issue their approval.