Marriage has always existed as a social institution among the Itsekiri people. The rules were quite simple. When a man found a woman that he wanted to marry, his family met with the prospective in-laws, bringing a member of the prospective Bride’s family would accompany them through the introductory process. Having heard the Groom’s request, the Bride’s father would, in turn, summon his relatives and initiate discussions on the prospect of marriage.
Once the Groom has expressed interest in a woman, his relatives conduct an investigation of the Bride and her family to ensure that they are of suitable health and character. The Bride’s family also conducts its own extensive evaluation to determine the Groom’s suitability. The investigative procedure is one of the most important aspects of the marriage process. Temotsi in principle is for life and it is considered a union of two families. As such, it can only be performed once during an Itsekiri woman’s lifetime.
If the investigations are successful, contact between the families begins. The Groom’s family proceeds to establish a relationship with the Bride’s family by showering them with gifts. Then the two families have developed sufficient rapport, a spokesperson for the Groom requests an audience with the family of the Bride to set a date for Temotsi. At that meeting, the Groom’s family is entertained with drinks and Kola nuts, after which the marriage requirements are determined, the date is set and important guests, are identified and contacted.