Benin Native Law and Custom Wedding in London.
Whether in Benin City or abroad, you can never get a Benin Bride off her Family without due process; if she is the eldest daughter, your task is even harder. Such was the case on the 24th of February 2018 in the Native Law and Customs Wedding of Miss Imuetiyan Bernadette Iyawe to Robert Hopkins of Battersea and Notting Hill, London.
Dr Taiwo Idemudia, JP, requested by the Bride’s father, Architect Paul Airen Iyawe (JP), oversaw proceedings on the day. The ceremony commenced at 3.15 p.m as scheduled.
In attendance was the Odionwere of UK & Ireland, Pa Bernard Woghiren, with some members of the Odionwere Council including Councillor David Obaze and Madam Adesuwa Obianwu. The groom’s family was represented by his sister Carol Hopkins, his nephew Daniel Hopkins, his nieces Miley Hopkins and Santana, Simba and Aisha Hailstones and his great niece Layla. The Bride’s family was represented in numbers; among those present were the bride’s elder brother, Ehigiator Iyawe, cousins Mrs Veronica Ediagbonya and her family, Mrs Itohan Irhule, Mr and Mrs David Asemota and their children.
Opening Prayers: The Opening prayers were done in Benin Language by the Odionwere Pa Woghiren. This got the ceremony on the way. Daniel Hopkins also gave opening prayers from the groom’s family. Cllr. Obaze broke the kolanut, Benin folk songs were sung (Siwo Siwo, Oyenmwen etc) and light refreshment started flowing. During light refreshments, Dr Idemudia welcomed the groom’s family, letting them know that as hospitable people, the Iyawe family was pleased to receive the visitors even though the family was unaware of the Hopkins’ mission to its abode. As the visitors would have observed, Benin culture requires hosts to be welcoming and hospitable.
The Reason: Cllr. Obaze was the groom family’s spokesman; he explained their mission had to do with a “very beautiful queen” they had seen in the venue of the visit. Dr Idemudia thanked them for their compliment but observed the family had quite a few beautiful queens in the house. Daniel Hopkins pointedly asserted that they wished to take the beautiful queen as a bride. Dr Idemudia then asked Daniel who exactly wished to marry the the queen. Daniel pointed to Robert who was sitting on his own in the living room about 2 yards from the Odionwere and Dr Idemudia.
The Parade of the Bevy of Ladies: With more Benin folk songs from the crowd (Ghe omo, ghe omo,....). Robert was requested to identify his prospective bride from a parade of a bevy of girls. The first lady walked in covered in a veil. The elders asked Robert if that was the queen to which he replied a categorical “NO”. The second lady walked in covered in a veil and Robert also replied with a definite “NO!” The sound of the music went louder for the 3rd lady but they stopped and came to Roberts family that a vehicle had broken down blocked the parade so some money was required to clear the obstruction. Robert’s family gave a token and the Benin music went up again. A minute later the music went dead and another emissary came into the room to say there was no petrol left in the vehicle with which the group was traveling to the scene and they needed some more money. Robert’s family gave another token. When the 3rd lady arrived, Robert excitedly announced tshe was the queen he came in search of.. As Imuetiyan entered the room, Robert was screaming “yes! yes! yes!” and she took off her veil. Robert said he felt , the “RAC recovery team got his Benin bride to the venue as there seemed to be so many breakdowns on the way”. This was met by a roar of laughter.
Informing the Bride: Dr Idemudia informed the bride in Benin Language of the people who came to see her, drawing her attention to the gifts and food items they brought. To enable the family, accept such generosity, it was necessary to know if she knew the visitors. Imuetiyan answered in the affirmative.
Bride Price: Dr Idemudia then advised Daniel Hopkins that his family had to go placate the youths of the family who are naturally jealous over their sister’s “new friend”. Daniel and the family proceeded to Bre and Makayla Asemota. Next they were instructed to go see Imuetinyan’s mum who was represented by Mrs Itohan Joy Irhule. The mum accompanied by family members came into the room of elders singing and dancing, and confirming to the elders that Daniel Hopkins and Family had made her happy. Thereafter, she took her sit. Dr Idemudia reminded the Hopkins that as her parent’s eldest daughter, Imuetinyan was exceptionally well prepared in domestic science, having been her mother’s primary helper in the task of bringing up her siblings. Consequently, she is extremely well prepared to take care of her husband. He further drew their attention to her level of academic achievements and her beauty. For these reasons and more, he allowed, the bride price would be high, however, he said, he needed to consult with the elders.
The Consultation: The Odionwere Pa Woghiren, Cllr.Obazee and Dr Idemudia mulled the matter over and agreed a bride price of £6,000.00. The Hopkins were accordingly advised.
The Hopkins Response: Daniel Hopkins responded that Imuetinyan was priceless and that no amount of money is enough for her bride price. He then presented a token in a covered chinaware to Dr Idemudia whilst reassuring the Elders that his family will conscientiously look after “our Queen”, Imuatiyan.
The Elders Response: Dr Idemudia looked into the china and informed the Hopkins that Benin Tradition requires a bride price of £12.50 since “our daughters” are inestimable and priceless. Our brides, he opined, are not for sale. He took £12.50 out of the bowl. He handed the bowl to the bride’s “father”, Ehigiator Iyawe to give back to the Hopkins who were advised to use the money and much more in taking exceptional care of the bride.
The Bridal Ceremony: Mr Ehigiator Iyawe then summoned Robert Hopkins to kneel down before him. He loudly called out his name, “ROBERT” seven times. The groom remained quiet until the seventh call when he replied loudly, “ Eyo ooo!”. Mr Ehigiator Iyawe then took his sister’s right hand and placed it on Robert’s right hand, with a short prayer. He then proceeded to Daniel Hopkins, the groom’s family leader (Okaegbe) and sat Imuetiyan seven times on his laps. On the seventh time he left her seated there. Daniel then took Imuetinyan and placed her on her groom, Robert’s laps to a huge applause. The Odionwere, Pa Woghiren prayed for the union.
Refreshments followed, members of the two families interacted and the new couple were very happy. As the ceremony came to an end, Daniel and the Hopkins family were advised to cease looking over the Iyawe family fences for more queens. The Hopkins humorously promised to acquiesce with the advice.
See the picture gallery below.