Margaret Apine (PhD), Ochoga Edwin Ochoga (PhD)


This paper examines Agila traditional marriage procedures and the symbolic role of Agila women in marriage life. While men play most of the public roles in marriage procedures, women equally play some fundamental roles during the marriage preparation, ceremony and marriage life entirely. The paper has established that Agila women believe that marriage may be made in heaven but its foundation is firmly planned, prepared and laid on solid earth. It is also nurtured and sustained by mutual love, respect and commitments foster by virtuous women. Marriage is also a serious life-long partnership, a symbolic relationship of a man and a woman, of mutual love, concern and care. One partner complements the other, each feeling incomplete without the presence of the other. The Agila women-orientated totem says that without peaceful marriage and family, nation-building maybe frustrated. This adage has eminently prompted Agila women to be intrinsically involved in marriage process in the community.  There is no gain saying that the iconic role of Agila women regarding marriage has obviously influenced couples to practice type of relationship, there will be fewer frustration, divorces, single parentage, prostitution, extra marital affairs. Hence, a healthy and happy home will ensue peaceful community.


Agila, women, marriage, peaceful, and community

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Oral tradition of the people believe that in as much as nuclear family is the very first unit in the formation of society, community etc it is not too pronounced in Agila. Probably because the Agila society is absolutely built and rooted around the descendants of the progenitors.

G. Gilde, Men and Marriage. London, Oxford University Press,1999.p.24

The oral history of Agila believe that Ada Iyeste is the bridge between the dead and the living family members. Therefore, he is the custodian and chief priest of the family gods/shrine and the ancestral spirit cult, Arekwu. He decides when and how to appease the gods as well as the ingredients for sacrifice.

G. Akerl, The Marriage and Society. London. Oxford University Press, 2000.p.7

See G. Akerl, The Marriage and Society. P.9

A. Ademola, Marriage, Family and Peaceful Building. Ibandan, Success Publishers,1991,p.69

See A. Ademola, Marriage, Family and Peaceful Building,….. p.23

O. Ese, Cultural Change and Its Impacts on Agila Marriage Rites. Being a B.A Project submitted to the Department of Religious and Philosophy, Benue State Univeristy-Makurdi,2012,p.149

See Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary……p.146

O.E. Ochoga, Agila History and Culture. Makurdi, Ugo Press,2016, p36

O. Ese, Cultural Change and Its Impacts on Agila Marriage Rites. Being a B.A Project submitted to the Department of Religious and Philosophy, Benue State Univeristy-Makurdi,2012,p.149

New Encyclopedia, p.1149

See Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary p.904.

For more details see, O. Ese, Cultural Change and Its Impacts on Agila Marriage Rites…’p1-2

Most of the informants interviewed contended that an average Agila man when an Agila man considered himself capable to accommodate and feed a woman, such man begins to search for a lady to become is his wife. In other words, it is expected of an Agila man to be physically, biologically, economically, psychologically, and emotionally ready before thinking of having a woman as a wife.

In Agila oral history believes that parents may recommend a bride for their son and if the son accepts the recommendation, his parents would first go straight to lady’s parents for discussion. In such a case, the onus lies on the lady’s parents to convince their daughter. If the lady accepts the proposal, both the man and the lady would be allowed some level of classified closeness and interaction for the purpose of developing likeness and affection for each other.

Interview, Ochanya Uba-Ochoga

Interview, Ochanya Uba-Ochoga

For more details, see O. Egwurube, Agila History: Issues and Perspectives, Makurdi: Brains Books,2007, p.94.

The oral tradition has it that Agila culture forbid the man to walk to the parents of the lady and disclose his intentions; his parents or elders does this on his behalf by going to the lady’s parents to introduce themselves and also to inform them of their reason for coming to the house. In other words, apart from initiating likeness and love intending couples do not have much involvement in the processes of marriage as the discussion and barging are done by elders from both families.

For more detail see the oral Interview of Attah Esah cited in O. Ese, Cultural Change and Its Impacts on Agila Marriage Rites…’p.38

Oral tradition has it that after everything is said and done, and the lady gives a favorable response, the parents of the lady would then conduct a thorough investigation on the upbringing, background, family history and so on, of the intending groom to unravel any history of madness, terminal diseases or criminality in the man’s family.

Most of the informants interviewed contended during of period of acquaintance and familiarity (c Agila culture forbid pre-marital sex and any form of sexual immorality among the intending considers courtship at this time in life when a man and a lady are ready to be considered married. It is only permitted for an Agila lady to enter into a courtship with a man whom she being considered marrying and have gone through the above two stages of marriage.

Interview, Agbenu Ochapa and Agbenu Ogbu Agila Marriage Rites …p35

Agilas believe that love can be blind at times, only family (and friends) can really help to correct our vision, this phrase pertaining courtesy is been preserved by oral tradition with the aid of a popular marriage song in Agila.

Ibid, the popular puts it that during this time of courtship, the cultural norms and value frown at formants share their person for the intending couples as regards to physical intimacy. It is the responsibility of the bride mother to frequently remember her daughter that as she to store up your treasures of physical intimacy before marriage, every sacrifice that she makes to stay pure becomes a jewel for you to share with each other in marriage.30 At that time, she will be able to delight in the beauty of giving themselves to each other completely and totally. And their pleasure in marriage will be magnified by their time of waiting.


Oral history put it that Agila culture also permits the payment of full bride price in the day of the introduction for grooms who have the financial muscles and have decided to take full jurisdiction over the lady.

Those interviewed argued that the embraced of Christianity by most Agilas have erroneously incorporated Christmas and Easter to this gesture. The gifts presentation is called ‘Oho otsotse el'osuru’ literally means taking of load (food) to an in-law.

Interview, Ochanya Uba-Ochoga

Interview, Ochanya Uba-Ochoga

See O. Ese, Cultural Change and Its Impacts on Agila Marriage Rites …p36

O. Ese, Cultural Change and Its Impacts on Agila Marriage Rites …p36

The author witnessed many cases where the bride’s parents decided to collect far less than the required five thousand, on the ground they are not selling their daughter for a price.


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