Bùbá àti Kèmbè shirt and short baggy pants for men
Embroidered Aso Òkè fabric for women
Agbádá àti Sóró, Agbada and long slim pants for men
Ìró & Bùbá made from African lace material
The Yoruba’s belief that death is not the end of life; rather, it is a transition from one form of existence to another. There is a belief in an afterlife that is a continuation of this life, only in a different setting; the afterlife is conditional, depending on the nature of one’s life and the nature of one’s death. This is the meaning of life.
The achievement of a good death is an occasion for celebration of the life of the deceased. This falls into several categories. First, children and grand children would celebrate the life of their parent who passed and left a good name for them. Second, the Yoruba are realistic and pragmatic about their attitude to death. They know that one may die at a young age. The important thing is a good life and a good name. As the saying goes: Ki a ku l’omode, ki a fi esin se irele eni; o san ju ki a dagba ki a ma ni adie irana, (if we die young, and a horse is killed in celebration of one’s life; it is better than dying old without people killing even a chicken in celebration.)
When the breath has departed from the body there is the usual outburst of exaggerated grief, with loud cries, lamentations, and frenzied gestures, and the eldest son of the deceased, or the brother, (if there be no son) will be call upon. The family will meet with the children of the deceased on how to bury the death, if the deceased is a Muslim, he or she must be buried same day after which the seventh days and fourth day’s prayers will be conducted by the Imam.
In the case of a Christian, the family decides whether to bury immediately or keep the corpse in the mortuary In the meantime a death-feast has been prepared, and now commences, while outside the house a continues beating of drums is sustained, together with frequent discharges of musketry, fired in honour of the deceased. The feast, at which intoxicants are used lavishly, soon becomes a veritable orgia, in which, however, the chief mourners, that is, the widows and daughters of the deceased, take no part; for as soon as they have performed the last offices for the dead, and have placed the corpse at the door, they are restricted to an adjacent apartment, where they are compelled by custom to remain during the three days that a corpse invariably lies in state. While thus immured they are forbidden to wash, and usage requires them to refuse all food, at least for the first twenty-four hours, after which they usually allow themselves to be persuaded to take some nourishment.
The conventional mourning is the business of the women of the household, who, while the men are feasting utter loud lamentations in the room in which they are confined; and, in consequence of this, the epithet isokun, “a mourner,” is often applied to a female child; a male, on the other hand, being sometimes called iwale, “a digger,” i.e., of a grave. A father might thus say that he had begotten two mourners and a digger, meaning, two daughters and a son. Female friends usually come to join in the lamentations, the conventional character of which is while the widows and daughters lament their lonely and unprotected state.
The Yoruba traditional marriage ceremony, though a serious affair, is full of playfulness, rich contemporary Nigerian music, graceful colors, and sumptuous meals. Weddings are occasions to show best outfits, handbags, jewelry, and even dancing styles.
The traditional wedding is an occasion to alleviate the drudgery of normal life and are greatly anticipated by friends and well wishers.
Long before any engagement ceremony takes place, the groom visits the family of the bride in the company of his father and some family members. The occasion is an informal introduction without fanfare but has a cordial atmosphere so they can get to know one another.
The informal introduction does not require much preparation, except for offering some tubers of yam and a few bottles of wine. The family of the bride is purview to the visit and hosts the visitors with a simple meal of rice and mineral water. Apart from the introductions, the group might discuss when the event would take place. This is not a hard and fast rule, and such discussions might take place later.
Invitations and Venue
After the date is set, the bride and groom choose an invitation card that appeals to both families. Details included on the card include the date of the wedding, the venue or venues, the name of bride and groom, RSVP information, and, most importantly, the color code for the day. The bride’s family may choose a different color code from the groom’s family and friends so that on the marriage day each family is represented by a color.
The couple may select their own venue or the bride’s family may choose. One interesting thing about choosing a venue is that it is usually a compromise between both families. Even the meals served on the occasion are agreed upon by both parties. Sometimes the more financially capable family contributes a larger portion, but traditional wedding parties are a combined effort by both families.
The bride's outfit is a reflection of what the female guests will wear. She might choose damask, lace, Nigerian wax fabric, or any fabric that appeals to her. The outfit consists of gale which is the head tie, the buba tank top, and an IRO, which is a large, ankle-length piece of material tied round her waist.
The colors she chooses reflects the color theme her family has chosen but should also complement the groom's outfit and look identical. She can wear accessories like gold chains, beads, bangles, gold earrings, and shoes to match. Her face would have gone through a beauty regime with professional makeup artists, hair stylists, and color coordinators.
The groom could decide to wear an Agbada, which is a two-layered piece of material of heavy dimensions like the aso oke. It might be cotton and damask or he might wear lace, wax fabric (Ankara). The color combination should complement the bride's and reflect the color his family has chosen.
The Engagement Ceremony
The traditional engagement is carried out by a contracted professional called the Alaga ijoko which translates to traditional master of ceremony. This person could be a member of the bride’s family or a complete stranger. The Alaga Ijoko is always a woman. Her duty is to properly officiate and coordinate the proceedings so that each provision of tradition is strictly adhered too.
There are different stages she coordinates. Each stage might involve collecting cash which the Alaga keeps. The groom and his friends are formally introduced to the bride's family. This involves bowing to the family and formally requesting their daughters hand in marriage.
The groom’s people also hire a professional called the Alaga iduro, which means a master of ceremony who follows the groom and family to beg for the hand of their daughter. The Alaga iduro is also a professional custodian of Yoruba wedding tradition. She could be a family member or hired for the occasion.
Other festivities include the letter reading, which is read by a young lady from the groom’s family and which also asks for the bride's hand. The bride's family also responds with a letter of their own.
The engagement is an integral part of the traditional marriage. As the ceremony proceeds, items listed for the engagement are presented. The items vary slightly in each Yoruba traditional wedding, but the general articles are the same.
Non edible items could include expensive materials like lace, several pairs of shoes, a wristwatch, a gold engagement ring, and a head tie.
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