Eleme Culture

Eleme society is rich with its own culture and traditions, from superstitions and traditional religion to the frenzied spectacular that celebrates an Eleme wedding. This section highlights some of the rituals native to Eleme.


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Traditional Marriage Practices

Traditionally, marriage ceremonies in Eleme could only occur in June, but with the introduction and proliferation of Christianity, this practice was first extended to the Christmas period and then beyond. Now weddings occur at anytime of year, although more conservative families may still favour the traditional period for wedlock.

Several stages are involved in the marriage proposal process. The first stage, involves the initial inquiry made by the groom to the father of the bride. Drinks, typically palmwine, are given to the father at this point. The process of drink-giving may occur several times before moving on to the next stage. Drinks are usually accompanied by money.

The most serious negotiation involved in the marriage process is that of the bride-price. The bride-price is a large sum of money paid to the family of the bride, accompanied by yams, rice, palmwine, a large goat and other gifts. The negotiation may involve a number of important figures from the community. The negotiated amount is highly variable and generally reflects the estimated wealth of the proposed inlaws.

The wedding ceremony itself a procession from the house of the bride to the town square, accompanied by the sound of drummers and singing. The bride is dressed in ceremonial beads and traditional headgear. Heavy metal bracelets spiral from her ankles to her knees. Around her waist, wrappers are tightly tied in concentric circles by her female relatives. The brides body may be extensively decorated in elaborate designs with natural dyes. Important guests are thanked and presented with drinks. The ceremony concludes with various dances and gifts are given to the new couple, including money and clothes.