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Would You Leave Your Wealth To Your Kinsmen Because Custom Demands?

There are so many amazing cultures practised in the world. Some cultures are perceived as extreme or outrageous while others are inconceivable.

Abiriba is a beautiful village found in the eastern part of Nigeria. This village is very rich with traditions like the Igba Nnunnu, Izaru Efa, Igwa Mang, Ime Uche, Ekembu and so on.

These traditions have been in existence for a very long time. The Ikwunne system is particularly controversial and has threatened the peace and future of most families in Abiriba.

Igwa mang ceremony. Photo: wikimedia

The Ikwunne system posits that children belong to the mother. This means that the conventional family dynamics of children belonging to the family of the man is not practised here.

  • Men who are married to Abiriba women have their children trained by their wives or her family.
  • The children do not have a right to take part in important decisions in their fathers family.
  • When the man passes to the great beyond every property he owns belong to his Ikwu and not his wife and children.

But these principles do not apply to men who marry women that are not Abiriba natives.

Because of this parents clamour for their daughters to marry Abiriba men. In fact, it was mandatory for daughters especially the first daughter to marry an Abriba man. It was a scandal almost a taboo if she brings a non-native [onye mba]. This is still an issue in some families today.


While parents are wishing and aspiring for Abiriba sons-in-law, most eligible men were marrying non-native women. Abiriba girls were in a dilemma- no Abiriba suitors. They were rejecting promising non-natives since their parents were not granting their consent and blessings.

Abiriba women were left with nothing when their husbands die. The man’s Ikwu takes everything including his clothes. The woman is asked to leave the house. This treatment is sometimes meted out to a non-native woman if she does not have a son or if her daughters are married to non-natives [onye mba].

Question is, how many men will leave their families with nothing because custom demands?

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