Bride price is an important aspect of marriage tradion in African(Nigeria). But how relevant is it in the light of today’s world?
Nigeria’s diversity has created rooms for different types of marriage, but one thing that has remained constant is the payment of bride price. It has become an essential part of a valid customary marriage in the country. Bride price is usually the payment, in monetary form, to the parents or guardians of a female partner made by the groom on account of marriage. Bride price varies from one culture to another, while there is no fixed amount on how much can be paid.
In the eastern part of the country, dowry is as essential as the marriage itself. the issue of bride price in Nigeria can never be overemphasized. In Igbo culture, the bride price is meant to prove that prospective husband can take good care of his family.”But the high bride price levied on intending grooms there is callous. “Women are free gift from God. He never demanded anything from us when He created us. The practice has led to promiscuous behaviours in youths of today. If you ask me, I think the bride price is beginning to loose its worth.
The high price of dowry is discouraging most youngsters from partaking in marriages these days, and the attendant consequence is the anti-social behaviour we are witnessing today, such as prostitution,abuse,baby mama drama, prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, rape, and so on.”
In the North, the issue is not as worrisome likewise in the West.
From the biblical point of view, dowry is very important. People who married in the Bible gave dowry to the parents of their wives. Like Isaac, when Abraham sent his servant to go and find a wife for him, he gave a lot of materials to the servant to be given to the parents of the wife-to-be. The material was delivered by Eleazar to the parents of Rebecca.“So, it is very important that the dowry is given by the husband to the parent of the bride.”
From the societal point of view,poverty and civilisation had been responsible for marriage crashes in Africa, and more importantly in Nigeria. Parents, instead of laying emphasis on the symbolic aspect of dowry, “see the female as a way of enhancing their financial status. Because they want their females to marry someone who will be able to meet their financial demands, they push them into the wrong hands.”
Is Dowry still relevant to Marriage?

Whitney Edna Ibe is the Executive Consultant, Life & Mental Health Coach, and Writer/ Editor at Whitney Edna Ibe Consult (Blog),, The Social Talks,, and Mental Wellness Society International. She is in charge of consultations, services, and implementation.

13 Thoughts on “The Dowry….”

  • Yes bride price is still an important part of culture in Botswana,southern Africa where I am from.It used to be cattle,but nowadays money can be given and the bride’s family usually charge huge amounts of money.But it boils down to personal preference,as some people choose not to pay bride-price. They are usually looked down upon though,that they are not married,even if they did the white wedding.I think it will take a long time,a hundred years maybe,for the practice to stop.

    • Thank you for highlighting this wonderful piece about your hone town. In my country Nigeria its still relevant but highly interpreted and represented. The dogma practises of our parents has left many wondering if there is any relevance to it. The youths are not left out in this saga.

  • India suffers from the same. One of the worst evils of Indian Society is the dowry system. It is a custom that is prevalent in all the sections of our society in one form or the other. At the beginning it was voluntary, but later on the social pressure was such that very few could escape from it. The dowry at present is a source of both joy and curse in the society. It is also a joy to the husband and his relatives who get cash, costly dress and utensils, furniture, bedding materials, etc. But, it is a curse to the bride’s parents who have to bear enormous cost to satisfy the unreasonable demands of the bridegroom’s party. A demand of dowry does not diminish even after marriage. The in-laws of the bride are very much ready in Indian homes to inflict harassment, insults and tortures-both mental and physical. When more pressure is put on the bride’s parents, their dear daughter has no other option but to commit suicide to avoid more insult and torture at the hands of the members of her husband’s family.

    • This is quite interesting and challenging Lovey. The more reason why I ask how relevant is this so called bride price today. Its no longer what it used to be customarily. The stigma young girls and women face is nothing to write home about all in the quest to get married and make the society and family happy. We need a change in our marriage systems and a positive one at that. Thank you for commenting. Gratitude.

  • Well said but from my understanding dowry is the gifts the parents of the bride or the bride’s people give her on the day of her marriage. In Igbo land of SouthEastern Nigeria, it is called “IDU ULO” which ranges from motar and pestle, cooking pots in the olden days to washing machines, refrigerators, ovens etc in recent years (all depending on the capacity/purchasing power of her family). It is infact a thing of mockery to the bride if her family does not present her with these gift items. However, then again is the issue of bride price which is the payment the husband to be gives to the father of the bride and without this payment, the couple remains unmarried. This money differs from family to family and some families, if not most see it as symbolic. I remember in my case, my father requested for #60 (which is way less than $1) from my husband after which he gave him back #10. Its just symbolic meaning no amount is enough to pay him back for all the years of taking care of his daughter in all these years, he only needed a promise that she will be taken good care of by his soon to be inlaws. Most things discouraging the young men is what is called “the list” given to the intended husband by the intended bride’s kinsmen. Infact the immediate family of the bride has no say in that as the same list is given to every Tom, Dick and Harry coming to take a bride from that particular community. On that list are items to be given to the men of that community, the women of that community, the girls of that community, the father of the bride and the mother of the bride. Some of the items on this list could be outrageous but some reasonable families tell the intended groom to forget about the things to be bought for them i.e the father and mother of the bride and focus on the items for the community. I would say in SouthEastern Nigeria, that “list” is the main culprit in most communities and not the “bride price”.

    • Yes I certainly agree with you. I can totally relate with your write up. There would be no list if there were no dowry payment. We from the eastern part of Nigeria abuse the word “Dowry” our leaders,elders and even parents hide behind the mask by saving after all the bride price is affordable,so they devised a means to enrich themselves and those shameless elders who enacted the “List” in a bid to satisfy their greed. The list my dear I don’t think is the issue cos there will be no list if there is no dowry to pay. The solution is we need a law or laws that will help checkmate dowry payment( what happens before and after the payment,which is what we call The List). Gratitude for commenting. Happy holidays to you and yours.

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