Eru Iyawo: Yoruba bride's engagement list

Eru Iyawo or engagement list is the  sum of the dowry items that a potential husband must present to his bride's family for him to be fully accepted and allowed to marry the woman.
These items must be properly packaged and decorated to be in baskets, boxes , accessorized with bows and ribbons to make them look attractive and presentable. They are presented to the bride's family on the day of the engagement.The engagement list given below is usually the one used by the Yorubas (South western Nigerian  tribe), some of the items are non-negotiable though the size, quantity or amount may vary depending on how rich you can prove yourself to be, some will not accept anything less than a certain number. This list  can also  be  modified and  adapted to suit other West African cultures. The items have their different meanings and represent an attribute such  joy, sweetness, long life, endurance, patience, long lasting, shelter, strength,prosperity and more.
They are hereby listed below:
Eru iyawo-www.typearls.org
Eru Iyawo. Photo credit: Instagram

  1. Spiritual items: Holy bible/ Quran and if you are ever asked to choose the most  important out of all the list, don't make a mistake, this is it. Other spiritual items include rosary, praying mat, Hijab (veil) depending on your faith.
  2. Engagement rings
  3. Clothing and fashion accessories: A giant box or Boxes containing clothing items (blouses, geles/headties,wrappers) shoes, bags, umbrellas,and jewelry for the bride,
  4. Food items: Tubers of yam, bags of rice,  Cat fish (Eja Obokun), salt (Iyo), Corn meal (Adun), Honey , (Oyin), Kolanuts (Obi), Bitter kola (Orogbo), Chilli/Alligator peper  (Atare), Dried/fresh  fish (Eja Osan), Palm oil (Epo), Groundnut oil (Ororo), Sugar, assorted sweets, cookies and Engagement cake (Akara Oyibo). 
  5. Drinks: Carton/s of malted drinks (Maltina, Hi-malt, Amstel malta, beta malt e.t.c), Crate/s of sodas (different brands), Quality Non alcoholic and alcoholic wines, Bottles of water, Juices.
  6. Basket of fruits and nuts : Oranges (Osan), pineapples, pawpaws(Ibepe), bananas (Ogede), strawberries, Groundnut (Epa), Almond nut, Cashew nut
  7. Female goat/ cows
  8. Proposal and acceptance letters: The proposal letter is a letter of intent/request and read by one of the groom's family while the acceptance letter is usually read by the bride's younger sister, niece or cousin and its is usually exploited to make more money for the reader.
  9. Monies (Owo): Only the monies can be negotiated. The Alaga Ijoko and Alaga Iduro (Engagement comperes) charge fees at will just to prolong the event, earn more money  or make the engagement more interesting. So you may likely hear of fees that are not listed here, its better you ask them to be moderate and put a limit on their requests if you don't want to spend much or ask them initially so you  have an idea of what to expect if  you don't mind spending the money.  I have been at a wedding where my fried (bride) quarrelled with an Alaga publcly because she felt they were over tasking her grrom and delaying the main event.     These monies  include but not limited to : Owo Baba gbo (Father has accepted), Owo Iya gbo (Mother has accepted), Owo Omo Ile Okunrin (For the men in the bride's family), Owo omo ile Obinrin  (For the women in the bride's family), Owo Iyawo Ile (For the married women or senior wives in the bride's family), Owo Irinse (Transport money), Owo Ikanleku ( For knocking), Owo Ijoko Agba (For elders sitting), Owo Isiju Iyawo, ( Uncovering the bride's veil), Owo Idide (For support), Owo Glasses(For reading letters and delivery). 
  10. Bride price (Owo Ori): This is the sum collected by the bride's parent in payment for the training and upbringing of the lady, the bride's father is expected to return it in event of a divorce, it signifies the breakdown of a marriage and he ceases to be an in law to the ex-groom. Recently, some parents due to religious beliefs have been turning down bride price with a view that they are not selling their daughters into slavery as some grooms take payment of bride price  as  proof of ownership and therefore a right to debase, maltreat  or dehumanize the woman . Acceptance or non- acceptance of bride price has been generating lot of controversy lately as camps are divided whether they should continue with the age-long tradition or put a stop to it. Personally, I believe bride price is part of a woman's dowry and is deep rooted in the biblical and Yoruba cultures and therefore people should not put sentiments into it. Bride price should be paid no matter how much, if other material items can be collected while not the money which is the most important to me. Or What do you Think?  

Christina

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