Nigerian Traditional Wedding: The Fulani marriage rites

Nigerian Traditional Wedding: The Fulani marriage rites kikiotolu

A fulani bride

Here is a post which is going to give you all you need to know about the Fulani traditional marriage rites in Nigeria. We are also going to briefly tell you about the Fulani people.

One of the best traditions that have been preserved by the Fulani people is their marriage rites, though nomads and spread across Western Africa, the Fulani marriage rite still remains preserved.

Though marriages in all Nigerian tribes are sacred, it has a lot of spirituality and traditional values accorded to it among the Fulani people.

Brief history and origin of the Fulani people

There has been different views as regards the origin of the Fulani people. Some scholars put it that the Fulani People are of Judaeo-Syrian origin while other scholars believe they are from the Arabian Peninsula, who later migrated to Senegal.

The Fulani people were said to have originated from the Berber people of North Africa, then moved down to Senegal where they later spread to other West Africa countries.

The Fulani people will for over a period of 1000 years continue to gain dominance.

They will spread out of Central and West Africa moving eastwards and are reported to be found in Ethiopia. Over this period of time, the Fulani people came in contact with diverse tribes adapting to some of their customs and traditions.

The Fulani people are basically herdsmen, and due to the nature od their occupation, adopted a nomadic lifestyle traveling several miles in search of the best grazing land for their cattle.

Traditional marriage rites among the Fulani people

Traditional marriage among the Fulani people is unique, unlike most tribes in Nigeria, the Fulani tend to marry early. Most Fulani men marry in their early twenties while their women marry in their early or late teens.

The Fulani people practice a system of marriage known as endogamy (Marriage within one’s own tribe or group as required by custom or law).

Though this system of marriage (endogamy) is slowly been abandoned by present generations, as the Fulani now marry people from other tribes whom they share the same religion.

Polygamy is common among the Fulani people as the men are allowed to marry more than one wife, as long as they can take care of them. They are also expected by their custom to marry off their first cousins before considering other wives.

Another aspect of the Fulani marriage which might interest you is that, some marriages among the Fulani people have already been pre-arranged even before the birth of their children.

On the issue of divorce, this is a rare among the Fulani people, as they tend to stay longer in marriage. Though when separation occurs due to death of spouse, the Fulani do not often remarry and when they remarry this usually happens within a year of the separation.

The wedding ceremony between Fulani Couple

Just as we said earlier that marriage rite among the Fulani peoples is unique in Nigeria, marriage among this group of people is one of the most colourful in the country.

Marriage in the Fulani tribe usually occurs in three stages namely; Sharo, Kowgal, Kabbal. Let’s give you more details about this three stages below.

  1. Sharo (flogging of the groom): Sharo is the first stage of the Fulani marriage ceremony, and it us marked with flogging of the potential groom. Though the Sharo is also practiced during important ceremonies like sporting events, and chieftaincy title, this ceremony is one of the most colourful events in the Fulani culture. During the Sharo, Fulani men usually have their arms akimbo and hold a stick while dancing to drumbeats with chants and incantations. The groom is usually accompanied by his friends and relatives to provide support during the flogging. In some cases the groom could be assisted by another person known as a wing man if he is unable to withstand the flogging.
  2. Kowgal (payment of dowry): The Kowgal is the most important part among the Fulani marriage rites. At this stage of the marriage ceremony, the groom brings his dowry which is usually in form of herds of cattle. The dowry passes from the bride’s father to the bride while the bride’s price are given directly to the bride.
  3. Kabbal (an Islamic ceremony during the marriage): After the traditional marriage rite, the new bride is accompanied to her new home and she is welcomed by other women. The kabbal which is an Islamic ceremony is usually done after the traditional Fulani marriage rites and can be done in the absence of the couples.

There you have it on this post, I hope you found it interesting and helpful.

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