The Idomas are indigenes of Benue State in North-central Nigeria, by the South-eastern flank of the region. Known to be the second largest ethnic group in the state and occupying nine local government areas, they are not only humble in nature, but are also hospitable. Little wonder visitors enjoy visiting their land which stretches from the southern banks of the River Benue to the northern fringes of Igboland.
Idomas are uniquely identified by their red and black native attire which they proudly adorn themselves with. History shows that the traditional fabric known as ‘lli K’ Idoma,’ and which boldly distinguishes them, dates back to the reign of the second paramount ruler of the Idoma kingdom, late Och’ Idoma, His Royal Majesty, Abraham Ajene Okpabi.
Although the marriage rites and customs of Idomas are similar to that of the Ibos and some other south-eastern cultures, there are specific aspects that distinguish their tradition with clarity.
For instance, in some Idoma subcultures, after the payment of bride price, the groom and his family present the bride with a rooster and some money on the marriage day.
Marriage in Idoma land is considered a lifelong state of union, although divorce is possible on the grounds of infidelity. And like it is with most cultural groups in Nigeria, Idoma traditional marriage is an arrangement between two families rather than an arrangement between two individuals.
It is said that when a man sets out to marry a wife, the go-between (ogbo’onya) investigates the family of the prospective bride to ascertain that the family has no history of specific ailments e.g. mental disease, epilepsy, and/or similar problems. If the result of this investigation is positive, the prospective groom’s family visits the woman’s family with gifts of kolanut and drinks.
After both families reach an agreement, a certain amount would then be paid to indicate that she has been taken. This is called (achi’osechefu). Then after much deliberation, an acceptable date is reached by both families.
During the bride price negations, the father of the bride is usually not around. The go-between (ogbo’bonya) and some members of both families sit with representatives of bride’s family who would usually start by naming an outrageous amount considering her academic qualification after which the groom’s family is allowed to negotiate. Afterwards, both parties go for separate secret meetings (ujuju) after which a conclusion on the amount to be paid is reached.
The Okoho soup is the main traditional soup peculiar to Idomas. It is a soup made from the Okoho stem which is very slimy after preparation. It is usually prepared with bush meat and a variety of fish and is regarded as a special delicacy in Idoma land.
Okoho soup is also highly medicinal and is usually eaten with pounded yam or any other swallow.
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