Intertribal Marriage

intertribal marriage
Written by Flora Ayoka

Intertribal marriage

For a very long time, we have observed marriages between members of the same tribe. In the past, people would only wed inside their own families and would not have dared to wed someone outside of that circle, but as a result of migration, we now see marriages between individuals of various tribes, nations, and even races. That is the beauty of love; it embraces all people equally. But is intertribal marriage the ideal union? What difficulties do couples have in this form of marriage, particularly in a nation like Nigeria with more than 521 languages and 371 Tribes?

Nigerian intertribal unions.

A marriage between two people with different ethnic backgrounds is referred to as an intertribal or interethnic marriage. With over 371 tribes, including the prominent Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba tribes, it is to be anticipated that there are many varied cultural and religious traditions among these tribal and ethnic groups in Nigeria. The concept of marriage among African people entails not only the couple’s affairs but also those of their extended family. For instance, the typical Igbo family unit is one in which the son and his family’s residence are close to that of his father.

Couples typically come from the same ethnic background in many Nigerian households. But the idea of intertribal marriage is becoming more popular nowadays, particularly among young people. Love, compassion, and compatibility are the most crucial factors for these people. Even if some parents might disapprove of their decision, it is important to realize that the majority of their anxiety about other tribes comes from long-held rumours about that tribe. Some tribes’ women are thought to be promiscuous, while others’ men are thought to be more likely to mistreat their wives. Most parents would desire their children to marry within their own tribe for these reasons as well as a few other cultural customs.

In an intertribal marriage, partners must be tolerant of one another and be willing to trust one another. Intertribal marriage can also promote harmony, tolerance, and integration. This is feasible when a person adopts and engages with the tribe of the other person, learning about their culture and culinary preferences. Language barriers, opposing traditions, and intolerance for one another may be some drawbacks.

Factors To Consider

It’s crucial to examine a few things before committing to a relationship if you ever find yourself dating someone from a different tribe.

  1. Family consent: Getting the approval of both families is crucial. The marriage that exists in the African culture is one that embraces both extended families. Asides from the couple, having the family’s acceptance will go a long way towards the success of such a marriage. 
  2. Recognizing the diversity of customs: It’s crucial to comprehend and accept the various lifestyles that people lead. Both sides should have a thorough understanding of the other’s culture, beliefs, habits, and thought patterns and how they could generate some friction. This will make it possible to tackle such crises more effectively when they occur.
  3. The language barrier: Because the marriage is between members of different ethnic groups, there will inevitably be a language barrier that will make communication difficult. People should decide on a language of communication; this language may be English or, in circumstances where one partner speaks the other’s language or another different language that is understood by both partners. They should choose the language that will be taught to their children as well.
  4. Last but not least is Sacrifices: Like in any partnership, there must be compromise and sacrifice. Couples must always be willing to make sacrifices when necessary and this is on a higher level with interethnic marriage.

Other factors could be food, style of dressing and finances. 

Intertribal marriage can be seen as an adventure in learning a new language, customs, and traditions, but you must be informed of the advantages and disadvantages of such a relationship as well as its long-term implications before making the commitment. 


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About the author

Flora Ayoka

Hi, I'm Flora, I am a trained social worker who loves baking but my first love will always be writing. Follow me on my social handles.