It is no secret that Nigerians are big on weddings. It means everything to the Nigerian people regardless of the ethnic group, tribe or religion. Where it gets extreme is in the bride price which is alien to the Western world. In short, weddings may seem like fun but these bride prices are not, particularly when you are choosing from a Nigerian family that is greatly entitled.
Interestingly, getting married in Nigeria, among Nigerians will always be a topical issue for many reasons. The place of love and that of money, which has been one of the major reasons why certain ethnic groups and tribes are seen as greedy when it comes to weddings.
Across Nigeria, the bride price is a certain amount of money paid by a groom to the family of his to-be bride in exchange for their consent and blessings. Depending on several factors, bride prices in Nigeria can range from N15 ($0.041) to a ridiculous amount as a million Naira ($275,000) or more. The practice in itself is rooted in tradition and compulsorily comes into play during traditional weddings and other traditional rites that might follow.
Another interesting worthy of note is that bride prices come in different forms. While it is majorly monetary, certain Nigerian tribes demand lands, other properties or other forms of payments as bride price. The payment of bride price in the Nigerian setting is so important that a man is referred to as a thief should he live with a woman he never paid her bride price like couples would while such women are seen or perceived as not having any sense of self-worth.
It is why we thought to highlight the tribes, ethnic groups and regions in Nigeria with cut-throat bride prices, including wedding lists and items. Note that the essence of this post is not to run down any tribe, or ethnic group. Let’s get to it, shall we?
10 Tribes with the Most Expensive Bride Prices in Nigeria (2021)
These ten ethnic groups/tribes have the most outrageous, expensive bride prices in Nigeria, as of 2021:
10. Annang (Akwa Ibom)
The Annang ethnic group is one of the ethnic groups in the Niger-Delta, specifically in Akwa Ibom State. The ethnic group is also the second-largest in the state, after the Ibibio ethnic group. Their lands cover 8 of the 31 local government areas of Akwa Ibom, namely: Abak, Essien Udim, Etim Ekpo, Ika, Ikot Ekpene, Obot Akara, Oruk Anam, Ukanafun in Akwa Ibom State, and part of Obi Ngwa.
Any groom who intends taking a bride from the Annang ethnic people must be ready to meet and fulfill the traditional marriage rites which are indeed expensive no thanks to the loads of stuff and fees that the groom is expected to buy and pay for.
9. Ogoja (Cross River)
The Ogoja people can be found in today’s Cross River State, particularly in a local government named after them – Ogoja local government. The major communities in Ogoja are Ekpogrinya, Nwang, Esham, Nnang, Egbong, Ewinimba and Banasara. Marrying from among the Ogoja people is no child’s play as it is required to fulfill, buy and tick the many items on the wedding list before the woman is finally handed to the groom and his family.
While Ogoja reportedly has a customary practice of returning the bride price in itself to the groom after the ceremony, the long list of items required for the rites remains with the bride’s family as theirs.
8. Nkpa (Abia State)
The Nkpa people of Abia State have one of the most expensive bride prices in Nigeria. The Nkpa people can be found in Bende local government of Abia State.
What makes the Nkpa traditional marriage rites, including the bride price and wedding list expensive is that the system has been rigged to favour intra-marriages and made difficult for a groom who is a foreigner to the Nkpa people.
It is said that an outside groom who intends getting married to an Nkpa lady must be prepared to organize a suitable traditional marriage ceremony that will not only accommodate the family of the bride but her entire Nkpa community! The Nkpa list not only demands a man buys certain items for the bride’s parents, but also for the kinsmen known as Umu nna in Igbo and their daughters (Umu Ada).
No one can say for sure why the Nkpa people ‘discourage’ outsiders from taking brides among them by heavily tasking the groom, perhaps it is because they prefer their women to remain within them rather than take men out of their tribe.
7. Efik (Cross River)
Think Efik, think Calabar, the south-south ethnic, located in Cross River, make up a greater number of the Calabar people. The Efik people speak ‘Efik’ as their language, with their signature soup which is the ‘Edikang Ikong’.
Not only is the traditional marriage of the Efik people expensive, a potential groom is expected to throw a carnival-like event for the traditional marriage, more importantly, if his bride is from an influential family.
An Efik bride is estimated in Euro and not in the Nigerian currency which is the official currency of the Nigerian people. The reason for this is tied to the huge influence of colonial activities on the Efiks.
6. Ikwerre (Rivers)
Ikwerre is one of the sub-Igbo groups in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Although they are considered as a branch of the main Igbo group, some Ikwerre people, over time, have denied being Igbos and have even claimed their language ‘Ikwerre’ is a separate language from the Igbo language.
The Ikwerres have rather terrifying bride prices and marriage lists that are generated by the bride’s family. So expensive is the bride price and marriage list that it can run into N1,000,000 (one million Naira) or more in order to be united to his bride.
According to the Ikwerre people, their daughters are groomed with extreme dedication and care that any man deserving of them must pay handsomely to marry them.
5. Bororo (Adamawa)
The Bororo tribe of Adamawa State, make up the Fulbe people that account for 60% of the population of the Adamawa people. Primarily nomadic, the Bororo people do not really have as many demands as with most on this group but that is not to say their traditional marriage rites are not expensive.
In marrying a Bororo girl, the potential groom is asked by the bride’s family to provide 10-15 live cows. This in itself is way over N1 million and not in any way the bride price.
In dutifully paying the bride price of a Bororo girl, certain factors are taken into account by the bride’s family and one of them is the depth and wealth of the potential groom. This allows the bride’s family to properly size the groom and know how to appropriately ‘bill’ him.
4. Mbaise (Imo)
Mbaise has always been at the heart of the expensive bride price list saga and regarded as one of the most notorious people known for ‘milking’ grooms in the name of traditional marriages.
Choosing an Mbaise bride is no doubt expensive. One major determinant about bride prices and marriage lists in Mbaise depends on certain factors such as the bride’s level of education, her course of study in a tertiary institution among a host of many other things.
Rumour mills suggest an unwritten rule of the Mbaise people is that women/brides are seen as assets to their men and their family. Typically, Mbaise bride prices can be pegged at over N100,000 while marriage lists can run into N800,000, putting the total to be over a N1 million.
Although there have been claims that certain Mbaise families ‘are not greedy’ and could settle for less but the general notion remains that Mbaise bride prices and marriage lists are very expensive for a groom and his family.
3. Ibibio (Akwa Ibom)
The Ibibios, like the Annangs are sister tribes in the oil-rich South-South, Akwa Ibom. The Ibibio makes up a larger percentage of the Akwa Ibom people with prominent features such as light skin, short stature (ibio, meaning short) and gap-tooth, in some cases. Getting married to an Akwa Ibom bride is not only expensive but tasking as the requirements can be overwhelming.
Marrying the first daughter of an Ibibio family, known as ‘Adiaha’ is not only daunting and demanding, financially, it requires several traditional rites, such as bearing a sacrifice and a ritual rite and requires the groom to buy a cow (we shall discuss this in a later post).
Although traditional marriages in the Niger Delta are somewhat similar in nature to other parts of the South-South, the performance of the traditional marriage rites in Ibibio land in respect of first daughter (Adiaha) and the special rites (Awa Oduongo) must be solemnly executed for the woman to be considered as having been properly married by the man.
2. Kalabari (Rivers)
The Kalabari people are a part of the larger Ijaw nation and occupy 33 towns and communities on 23 islands in the coastal part of Rivers State.
The major towns are Buguma (or Bukuma), Abonnema and Bakana. They are also said to have been the first group of people to interact with the Europeans, Indians and so many foreign groups that berthed in Nigeria, and this can be seen in the way the society is organized into Houses or Group of Houses along with the European and Asian method of the 14th and 15th centuries.
One thing worthy of note is that the Kalabari people have one of the most unbelievable bride prices and marriage lists in Nigeria. Typically, a potential groom is subjected to several monetary payments, including “buying the bride’s mouth”. In the end, most of the payments and the eventual bride price run into over N1 million.
1. Okrika (Rivers)
The Okrika people, just as the Kalabaris are a larger part of the Ijaw nation and they are also located in Rivers State. Okrika is considered a clan as with other clans that make up the Ijaw ethnic group and the Okrika clan consists of nine towns, namely: Okrika, Ogoloma, Ibaka, Ogbogbo, Ogu, Abuloma, Isaka, Bolo, and Ele, with their main occupation as fishing and farming.
As with other parts of Nigeria, the bride price culture is equally important among the Okrika people and somewhat taken to a different level.
For a groom willing to take an Okrika lady as a bride, you are likely to spend nothing less than N400,000 on the father alone and about N250,000 – N300,000 on the mother, taking the amount to be spent on the bride’s parents to about N700,000. Note that this does not include other family members such as the youths, unmarried girls (bride’s age group), grandfather and uncles as well as the mother’s people. Typically, an Okrika bride price and marriage list would cost nothing less than N1.5 million.
The Place of Negotiating Bride Prices in Nigeria
Almost every Nigerian family leaves open the place for a potential groom to negotiate some items on the bride price list he has been given. This can be as a result of financial constraints, religious differences or the availability of certain required items. The goal is to beat down the overhead cost of the given list in order not to run into debts.
A groom who fails to negotiate might send a wrong signal to the bride’s family which could leave further room for exploitation. However, one should be careful enough to not also come off as a wretched when negotiating these things as it can make the family believe such is incapable of taking care of their daughter or otherwise.
Negotiating should not be done alone to attach a sense of importance to it. It is always advisable as a groom to go in the company of one or two family members who are more experienced in this.