Gba – Krobo Marriage
Marriage is a very important and sacred institution in the life of the Krobos. In our Krobo custom, marriage is considered a duty, a requirement from the corporate Krobo society, and a rhythm of life in which all must participate.
a) Se Pomi – THE PRE-MARITAL INVESTIGATION
In Krobo custom, before any marriage could be contracted between any couple, Se Pomi is first made by both families, especially the man’s family. This is to ensure that the suitor do not have any strange health
problems or dubious characters. As an important element in Krobo/ Dangme marriage, a lot of proverbs are used to give meaning to Se Pomi:
1. A hyɛɔ to nyɛ nane loko a heɔ e mi bi -One looks at the legs of the mother sheep before one buys the kid
2. A hyɛɔ tsoyi ba, loko a tsuaa e poku – One looks at the leaves of a tree before one digs its roots
3. A hyɛɔ madaa nyɛ loko a jeɔ e he bi – One looks at the plantain tree before one digs the plantain suckers.
b) Tsutsumi lemi – Knowing the mother-in-law After the suitors family are satisfied with the pre-marital investigation, the suitor (the man) in the company of the mother or an elderly woman go unofficially to inform the would-be mother-in-law for the hand of her daughter in marriage. This unofficial rite is done so that the would-be mother–in-law will inform the husband of plans to have their daughter
married. The amount paid upon visiting the mother of the woman is not fixed since it varies from lineage to lineage.
c) He Sijemi – Self Introduction The formal marriage rite begins with He sijemi. This ceremony brings together the families of the suitor and the wife-to-be. At this gathering, official information is given out on the part of the husband-to-be to the girl’s parents expressing the wish to marry their daughter (“the flower”). This rite customarily attracts two bottles of Schnapps. Before the acceptance of this drink, the man’s family must have already given out a drink (the previous night) for putting the girl’s family to sleep (Sihwɔmi da), and a drink for waking them up the morning of the marriage ceremony (Sitlemi Da).
d) Yobami – Bridal Permission
Bridal Permission, called “Yobami” in our Krobo language, marks the end of the preliminary official rites according to our Krobo tradition. Here, the suitor’s family official ask permission from the girl’s family to have the girl given to them. This enables the woman to move to the man’s house. This marks the legal beginning of the marriage rite, and the man can now exercise paternal control over the lady. For this, the man’s family is made to present two bottles of Schnapps. The Yobami ceremony marks the end of the preliminary official rites, and paves the way for the start of Yo he nitsumi – The principle marriage rights.
Marriage is indeed a joyous and merry-making ceremony in Krobo. Therefore, though out all the stages, our traditional Klama songs and dance are performed. There is a lot of food to eat, jokes to share and lots of merry making.
e) Yo He Nitsumi – The principle marriage rite
The principal marriage rite begins with what is known as Agbo simi (Knocking). It is believed that the man is still a stranger, and according to our Krobo custom, he needs to knock. This attracts two bottles of Schnapps. The next stage after the ‘knocking’ is the man’s entrance into the house (‘Wemi Sɛmi’), and this also attracts two bottles of Schnapps. With this stage over, the man customarily requests for the lady to be given to him finally. This request is known as ‘Yo Si Bimi’, and the man pays two bottles of Schnapps.
f) Yo Sɔlemi – Receiving the woman
When the request is granted, the woman is given to the man. At this point in our Krobo custom, the woman is made to sit besides the husband. This symbolises the woman’s ritual transfer from the control and security of her original home to the family of the husbands. From this point, the woman becomes a full member of the husband’s family, and the husband has absolute control over her. The husband, after receiving the woman, thanks the family of the woman with either a bottle or two of Schnapps.
g) Yo nya tsumi haami – Thanksgiving
The new husband, as a form of appreciation, makes some presentations in the form of items to the wife, father-in-law, and some specific people that matter most. This serves as a positive witness of giving the woman in marriage. These items are the following:
– Yo nya tsumi haami : Piece of Cloth for the father-in-law (‘Ngatsɛ bo kpo’)
The farther-in-law is presented with a full piece of cloth (‘bo kpo’). In addition, he is given a cutlass, a native sandals (‘ablade’), umbrella, and Tababɔ (tobacco).
– Nganyɛ semi fɔmi : The mother-in-law
Ritually, it is believed that, the lady who has been married has made the back of her mother dirty with urine and faeces in the course of her up-bringing. In view of this, the new husband is made to pay a handsome amount as agreed upon by the mother-in-law.
– Other presentations: that must be made by the new husband include Money for the Brother-in-laws (Bajɔmɛ a sika), Money for the Family (Weku bi a sika), Drink to inform the chief (Matsɛ amaniɛ bɔmi da), etc.
h) Fia Peemi – The Marriage Blessing
It is often said that the end crowns the work. ‘Fia Peemi” is the final rite that is performed during our Krobo customary marriage. It is done in the Paternal Home of the wife by two elderly first born women (‘Wemi Dedehi’).
Items used for the performance of this custom are a Full Bottle of Schnapps, Da Tsu – Rum or Tsomi Da, An amount of money which is divisible, and a leaf. In the performance of this rite, two elderly first born women (Dedehi), of moral uprightness from both families are selected to do it. These women by customary demands should have had all their marriage rites performed for them by their respective husbands.
This special rite is performed at the entrance of the Father-in-law’s room. Interestingly, both the bride and bridegroom are not allowed to have a look at this rite. In the performance of this rite, the brides representative (one of the the ‘wemi Dede’) sits inside the room while the suitor’s representative (the other ‘wemi Dede’) sits outside the room with the door sill (Sinya poku) in between them. The other people who matter most in this ceremony are the two linguists representing both families, as well as the many family members.
Before the start of the rite, the head of the bride’s family pours libation with the Da tsu or tsomi da to God, the ancestors, deities and all invisible beings to invoke their blessings for the marriage. The nest step is the breaking of the leaf or the blade of grass. This ceremony is known as ‘Gba yi pomi”. In this ‘Gba yi pomi’ ceremony, the two women representatives hold the blade of grass or the leaf under their crossed knees. They then pull the leaf until it breaks into two parts. They exchange the broken leaf three times under their knees. While exchanging the broken leaf, the representative of the bride says:
“Fiaa, I jɔɔ nɔ ha mo” (I bless it for you), and the suitor’s representative responds by saying “I sɔle” (I accept).
As a symbol of unity, the two representatives drink from the same glass in their sitting position, and share the money equally among them amidst the singing and dancing of Klama songs. The group that performed the rite then moves to the main marriage grounds to inform the elders about the success of the ‘Fiaa pemi’ rite accordingly.