Sunday, 17 July 2011
So my hubby was going home! His first homecoming for fifteen years and he was both excited and nervous at the same time! It would have changed for him.
Amongst the Igbo's are strong bonds of kinship and brotherhood as evidenced in the maintenance of cultural groups, town unions and community development associations in distant lands wherever they are. Though Igbo's may be widely travelled, they do have a strong home coming mentality. Many towns where Igbo's stay in Diaspora usually feel homesick during the festive periods of Christmas when they all go home to their various villages to celebrate with family and friends. Some communities observe a mandatory mass return every three years. This is a chance for the people to take stock, get to know each other again and, of course, receive the blessings of their ancestors for the coming year‟s challenges
The village of Nteje in Anambra State is my husband's 'village'. Now don't get me wrong when I say village. An African village is a very different thing to the UK village it is made up of some 10,000 people. That does not include those in Diaspora. Therefore, whilst I am in Nigeria I am under the protective custody of every Igbo person there as is their way. So I should be very safe indeed.
You see in Igbo culture I have not just married my husband but his family and the whole community. I am, therefore, known as 'our wife'. The more I come into contact with indiginous Igbo's the more I come to fully appreciate my husband's upbringing. They say it takes a whole village to raise a child and that is true whether in the homeland or in Diaspora for an African. To think that so many people want only the best for you is difficult to comprehend for a simple Oyibo (white person) like me. I once asked my husband what does it feel like to be surrounded by so much love? His answer; very reassuring and comforting.
Occasionally I get glimpses of this in the way I have been welcomed and accepted into the culture, for all intents and purposes I am now Igbo and Nigerian to boot and known as 'our wife'. I hear the cries of horror from my Oyibo sisters as they automatically think that I will become second class or have to walk 10 steps behind my husband...to put your mind at ease the Igbo's worship their women and treat them with the utmost respect. Wives and mothers play a very important part in the Igbo culture and are not only equal in status but revered. Igbo men are very generous and loving and the family is everything to him. He will pay very close attention to his role within the family and is very hands on. The average age seems to be about 30-35 for an Igbo man to find a bride. He takes the task of finding a bride very seriously indeed and will take his time finding the right person to settle down with. Not surprising then that divorce is rare in Igbo society as once he has married he concentrates on providing for his wife and family and this becomes his raison d'etre.
A girl could do a lot worse than choosing an Igbo man but be prepared to get to grips with the culture and make frequent trips to his homeland.