It is Knowledge Tuesday again! We must apologize for not putting out one last week, please bear with us our delectable Asoebi guest as we have got an interesting tribe to discuss. 

Numerous are used to the three most popular tribe in Nigeria mainly the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa thus; any other ethnicity is combed within these three. Nevertheless, this is not so. To clarify is why we have taken the tribe called Kanuri whose people are majorly pegged as Hausas.

We seek to know how the traditional Kanuri wedding is done so as to better differentiate and understand these events if we ever find ourselves invited to one.

The Karuri set is dominantly found in the Borno and Yobe States respectively, situated in North-East Nigeria. 

Here is a jotting of what to expect.

Just like every other wedding, an intention must be declared by the groom to the bride’s family and the bride to be must give approval. When this is out of the way, an appointment is fixed by the parents to discuss the wedding proper. An introduction ensues which comes with the groom’s family bearing gifts such as a carton of candy, chewing gum and a bag of kola-nuts. 

The next step is the engagement ceremony called Ra’aki meaning “Declaration of Interest” which is a phase where luggage full of clothes, shoes, bags and cosmetics are presented on behalf of the groom to the bride. This task is usually executed by the groom’s sisters, female cousins and other relatives. This again involves presenting another set of candy, chewing gum and kola-nuts to break the engagement news. And it is worthy to note that at most times the Ra’aki is half of the Kususuram. Thus if the Ra’aki is two boxes, then the Kususuram will be four or more boxes.

The Kususuram is the main gift presented to the bride after the marriage. It comes in luggage, but more than the Ra’aki. This luggage’s are up to three (3) boxes full or more depending on the financial status of the groom.

Going further, the groom relatives are to discuss the dowry which in Kanuri society is paid in gold coins. Albeit, this is not so in recent times.

In Kanuri marriages, dowry is mandatory, which is given by the groom with the help of his paternal relatives to the girl through her Luwali or guardian, usually a senior male paternal relative of the bride. If the union is between a non-cousin and a maiden bride, a preliminary payment the Kwororam (literally meaning payment for asking the bride’s hand in marriage), is given to the Luwali by an intermediary from the groom. This payment is passed on to the bride’s mother or her mother’s senior female relatives living close by. The bride might also get a gift for herself. In the case of a marriage between cousins, this payment is not applicable.

When all demands are met, the wedding dates are fixed which at all times start on a Thursday with Nalle or Lalle. Lalle literally means “Henna”. This is used by the bride and other females in attendance to decorate their hands and legs. This signifies the opening of the wedding events. Here, sack or sacks of henna leaves, boxes full of cloth, money, kola nut, candy, chewing gum and a large basin full of items which include soaps, slippers, perfumes, and incense popularly known as Turaren Wuta and Humra will be given to the brides aunties from her father’s side ‘Bawaa’ where they will sort it out and exchange it with the grooms family, thereafter they will share the remaining items among themselves.

Followed suit on Friday evening (at 7 pm prompt) is the Wushe-wushe night, which means ‘Welcome to everyone‘. This is a very colourful and exciting event that takes place on the eve of the wedding day at the bride’s residence and has in attendance the fathers, mothers, aunties, uncles, friends and well-wishers. 

At this front, traditional music and dance by the Ganga Kuraa which is performed by everybody, including the aged is a special one which can continue till dawn. On Saturday between the hours of 7-11 am, the groom with his friends, relatives, and well-wishers converge at a meeting point, from where they go to the bride’s residence for the Wedding Fatiha. Here an Imam (Islamic scholar) will preside and conduct the rites of marriage involving offer and acceptance of the bride’s hand in marriage by their Luwalis, an announcement of the dowry paid, witnesses to the nuptial union, offers prayers/supplications and finally declaring them as husband and wife in front of all as witnesses.

 Immediately this is over, the bride’s family tends to reciprocate the groom’s effort by also presenting him with the gift of cloth, shoes, perfumes, wristwatches, the holy book, kettle and lots more. It is this gift the groom shares among his friends, sort of a thank you for being there for me. After this, it is merriment galore for all. Food and drinks, coupled with music and dancing is the order of the day till everyone retires.

Later in the evening, the groom’s relative and friends take the wife to her new home as it is not right for the bride to sleep in her parents’ house after the Fatiha. On Sunday morning, the Kisai Lewa meaning “Greeting of in-laws” commences. 

Here, the groom and selected friends go greet the in-laws, which give them an opening to advise the groom about being patient and tolerant with his new bride and so on. 

Once this is done, the wedding has come to a close and everyone gives their good wishes to the new couple.

A Kanuri wedding is vastly different to others we have talked about in the past. We hope there was a great knowledge impacted.

Keep still for the next Knowledge Tuesday article and learn the outmoded wedding ritual of a culture different to yours.

This wedding procedure was sourced from the 2018 write-up by Ali Mohammed Zann.