Marriage in Katsina State, Nigeria

The marriage customs involves various stages. When a young man sees a girl and falls in love with her, he makes known his feeling by either speaking to her directly, or if he is shy to do it, he may ask his friends to do it on his behalf. If the response is favourable, he offers her some presents. From then on, he and his friends visit the girl in the night for “Zance” which is a kind of discussions between the girls and the boy. Mats are spread on the floor of the entrance for the boy and his friends to sit. When it is time to part, the boy may at will give her presents.

Later, the boy informs his parents, and the parents formally contact the parents of the girls. In some areas the boys father in company of his friends or relations take some specific amount of money to the girl’s parents. The acceptance of this money is signal to an agreement that the marriage can take place in the future.

The suitor continues to visit the girls at home taking along some presents from time to time. After sometime, the suitor’s parents consult the parents of the girl on a possible date of the engagement. The date may be months ahead and this gives the suitors time to make necessary preparations for the event. The first thing he does it to buy portmanteau in which he puts gifts of clothes, dresses, soap and perfumes for the girl. This is considered as very important in marriage customs. In the past “Baiko” a kind of minor engagement was arranged between the boy and the girl. The purpose of this was to send away any other person who may wish to seek the girl’s hand in marriage, and to confirm to the suitor that he is definitely the one to marry the girl.

On the day of the marriage ceremony, friends, relatives and neighbours assemble at the home of the girl. The boy’s father or his representative asks the girl’s hand in marriage on behalf of the groom to be. He pays the dowry and accepts the conditions and responsibility of marriage, which include feeding the girl, education and housing her. Kolanuts are then distributed to the people and prayers are offered for the success blessing of the marriage.

In the night the bride accompanied by her friends and one or two older women, escort her to the groom’s house. On Sunday late in the night, the groom’s friends escort him to the bride. At the end of the ceremony, the parents of the bride bring foodstuffs and some money to groom to help him during the first weeks of the married life.