Understanding Compatibility in Marriages: A Dissection of Igala Ibegwu Tradition

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Life is not a bed of roses and marriage is not a weak arrangement orchestrated to play tricks with the affection and sensibilities of your partner. Marriage is a sacred institution religiously coordinated; protected and preserved for the sake peaceful coexistence, procreation and achievements of mutual goals.

Marriage is also a complicated institution that demands basic and thorough understanding of partners. Tolerance and dogged maturity of lovers can make it work. However, the stigma often associated with divorce or crashed marriages (broken homes) has necessitated the ugliest scenario whereby spouses who are not compatible are hell bent on enduring hardships or sexual taboos inspired by self destructive style of preserving failed pacts and crude engagements.

In Igala land, Ibegwu culture is in vogue and this tradition has survived the test of time outliving many centuries with limited distortion recorded so far.

In some parts of Igala land especially amongst Ogugu people who are predominantly found in Olamaboro Local Government Area of Kogi state, Ibegwu culture clearly envisaged that a married woman must remain faithful to her husband till death. Ibegwu tradition also forbids a married woman from giving monies or gifts to her relatives without the consent of her husband. Violators of these rules and regulations always face the wrath especially when confessional statements are not readily obtained and it becomes late to appease the gods.

For instance, Ibegwu (the unforgiving spirit) is always on standby to fast track the homecoming of any man who is aware of his wife’s sexual escapades with another man or men yet prefers to keep mute because of reasons best known to him. The outcome is disastrous and can lead to untimely death.

Over the years, critics of Ibegwu tradition have maintained that this culture is barbaric because it does not hurt perpetrators committing taboos rather their partners are spiritually arrested to pay the supreme price. In a situation where the husband of a cheating woman is not aware of his wife’s extramarital affairs, the woman will suffer a strange ailment and die.

However, if she confesses her crime on time, cleansing and appeasements of the gods can be carried out in order to liberate her. To this end, it is advisable that any husband who is suspicious of his wife’s outings and promiscuous lifestyle should vacate his residence and stop eating any meal cooked by his wife until it is proved otherwise. The husband in question can also stop his offsprings from eating any meal prepared by their mother else they suffer similar fate.

This tradition is not new even though it is full of many merits and demerits. To some greater extent, Ibegwu culture has encouraged sanity and fidelity amongst couples and relatively extended families in Igala land but this does not elucidate structural setbacks and misplacement of priorities which are parameters often invoked to criticize this practice.

For many adherents, Ibegwu is a religion that cannot be suffocated by Islam or Christianity – the Siamese borrowed religion infiltrated to Africa. Ibegwu culture is a clear feature of African Traditional Religion (ATR) which is not alien to Africans with many tagging these beliefs as the religion of our forefather’s.

This is comic!

Religion is not a vaccine or medicinal drug prepared under the supervision of professional pharmacists in the laboratory that it is speculated to expire after sometime. Ibegwu culture is a guiding principle factually practiced by “our forefathers” with strict compliance to the formative tenet. Over time, irrelevant misconceptions by believers of borrowed religions trying to suffocate the inheritance of their forefather’s have created more harm than good. In other words, Christianity and Islam does not encourage anyone to abuse the religion of their forefather’s but may violators have embarked on long journeys as a result of sheer ignorance. 

Marriage is not a do or die affair. It is pitiable underestimating the powers of spiritual covenant approved by your ancestors with criminally modified beliefs that the blood of your saviour who died over 2000 years ago have set you free. There is no nexus because one of the holy books proactively advised “give to Ceasar what belongs to Ceasar and to God what belongs to God”. Therefore, ignorance is not an excuse and should not ignite divisive tendencies in marriages that is guided by a particular culture. If you know you cannot adhere strictly to lay down rules and regulations do not embark on suicide missions by contracting marriages with persons from such extraction.

Furthermore, compatibility is key to successful marriages. It is difficult merging two opposing bodies under one roof all in the name of marriage. Compatibility in marriage ranges from sexual preference, marital adventure, family decisions and measure of personal income.

For instance, a woman who is flamboyant in nature would find it difficult settling down with an illiterate farmer residing in a rural community who is battling to eat three square meals as a result of meager income. Similarly, a man who is sexually reserved but married to a woman possessing high libidos is a misstep in the apparently wrong direction; there is no compatibility and the chances of the woman engaging in extramarital affairs is very high. Sexual fantasies and cravings does not understand the teachings of any religion and the reason is not farfetched. Sexual satisfaction is key in all marriages irrespective of various religions.

Marriages should not be consummated because of parental decisions or choice. Your parents will return to the houses after the ceremonies and you have the task of living with your spouses forever. It is difficult living under the same roof as strangers who are joined together because of parental decisions. Some of these marriages may become successful while other may not survive the test of time.

Similarly, couples (especially women) should learn how to cut links with their former lovers if at all they want their marriages to succeed. Marriages especially at the earliest stage does not need distractions and it is moribund when your ex automatically become your Chief Consultant or major financier after marriage. Receiving gifts of any kind from former lovers, colleagues, crush or just friends without the knowledge of your spouses is the first step to cheating. Cheating is not only when any man have carnal knowledge of you outside your matrimonial home.

It is important you do not venture into marrying a non compatible partner with estimations that there is room for changes. Your intending spouse is not a chameleon. Marriage is supposed to be a coexistence of two matured lovers who have reached adulthood and are ready to complement each other by learning how to bury personal differences for the sake of love and posterity.

Be that as it may, cheating is not a clear indicator guaranteeing peaceful marriage and it must not be encouraged even without Ibegwu traditional practice. Sex was created by God for pleasure and procreation and it is sacred. Ibegwu tradition forbids female infidelity and there is no biblical or Islamic explanation to disapprove it; you can underrate Ibegwu at your own peril.

– Ajogwu Jerry Ochada writes from Abuja.

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