The Joys of Motherhood
by Buchi Emecheta
The Joys of Motherhood Tradition and Customs Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"How much do you want for her? What else do you expect? Is it her fault that you have no son?" Agbadi was beginning to roar like the wild animas he was wont to hunt and kill.
"Please, please, aren't you two happy that I have survived the birth? It seems nobody is interested in that part of it. I made a promise to Agbadi yes; but, dear Agbadi, I am still my father's daughter. Since he has not taken a bridge price from you, do you think it would be right for me to stay with you permanently? You know our custom does not permit it. I am still my father's daughter," Ona intoned sadly. (2.123-124)
Although Ona and Agbadi want to be together, they can't until Ona's father releases her to be married. And in order to be married, Agbadi must pay the bride price that her father demands.
Then her personal slave was ceremoniously called in a loud voice by the medicine man: she must be laid inside the grave first. A good slave was supposed to jump into the grave willingly, happy to accompany her mistress; but this young and beautiful woman did not wish to die yet.
She kept begging for her life, much to the annoyance of many of the men standing around. The women stood far off for this was a custom they found revolting. The poor slave was pushed into the shallow grave, but the struggled out, fighting and pleading, appealing to her owner Agbadi.
Then Agbadi's eldest son cried in anger: "So my mother does not even deserve a decent burial? Now we are not to send her slave down with her, just because the girl is beautiful?" So saying, he gave the woman a sharp blow with the head of the cutlass he was carrying. "Go down like a good slave!" he shouted. (2.84-86)
Men and women in Ibuza react differently to different customs. This particular custom – that a slave dies with her mistress – is one that the women find personally appalling, while the men insist on it.
The people of Ibuza were never to forget the night the people of Umu-Iso came for Nnu Ego. Her father excelled himself. He accepted the normal bride price, to show that he gave his blessing to the marriage. But he sent his daughter away with seven hefty men and seven young girls carrying her personal possessions. There were seven goats, baskets and baskets of yams, yards and yards of white man's cloth, twenty-four home-spun lappas, rows and rows of Hausa trinkets and coral beads. Her ornamented cooking-pots and gaudy calabashes were attractively arranged round crates of clearest oils. A new and more beautiful effigy of the slave woman who was her chi was made and placed on top of all Nnu Ego's possessions, to guard her against any evil eye. It was indeed a night of wealth display. No one had ever see anything like it….
Agbadi's heart was full to bursting point when, the second day, the people from Amatokwu's compound came to thank him for giving them his precious daughter Nnu Ego. They did so with six full kegs of palm wine. Agbadi smiled contentedly and invited everybody in his own compound to drink.
"My daughter has been found an unspoiled virgin. Her husband's people are here to thank us." (3.27-29)
Agbadi outdoes himself, displaying his wealth and generosity, in this marriage of his beloved daughter. After the bride price has been paid, and the marriage has been consummated, the groom's family sends a gift to Agbadi to thank him for successfully keeping his daughter a virgin until her marriage.