Thursday, 12 October 2017

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Saturday, 23 February 2013



In Igbo land, it looks upon the horizon of every maid and youth as an indispensable function to fulfill with a little delay as possible after reaching the age of puberty. Since the Igbo are a patriarchal people, marriage is deemed and indispensable factor for the continuation of the family line of descent children occupy the central point in Igbo marriage. The first and foremost consideration is the fertility of the couple. Parents long for this and the father of the family request this every morning in his kola nut prayer. The mother begs for it while giving cult to her chi during annual festival. In other words, if you ask the ordinary Igbo man or woman why he desires to marry, the spontaneous answer will be: ‘I want to marry in order to beget my own children, to get a family like my parents’. This love for having children is manifested in Igbo names like Nwabuuwa (a child is the entire world to me). This name exposes the Igbo man’s sentiment and the high water mark of his ambitions. Other things in life rank second to this desire. Then, there are names equally very expressive, Nwakasi, a child is priceless, most precious, Nwakaku or Nwakaego, a child out-values all money, all wealth; Nwadiaguu, a child is desirable, man is literally famished with the hunger for children. According to Basden, he further expresses his view with this remark: men and women are mocked if they remained unmarried.
In Igbo land, a childless woman is regarded as a monstrosity “This idea is still present in the Igbo society today. A childless marriage is universally recognized as chi Ojoo. A childless marriage is a source of serious disappointment and sooner or later, leads to serious trouble between man and wife. The position of a wife in her husband’s family remains shaky and unpredictable until she begets a child. She becomes really secure after the birth of a male child. At this stage, she is specially welcomes as a responsible housewife in her husband’s extended family and Umunna.  In fact, the birth of the child gives her the title of wife, before this time she may be said to be a wife only in anticipation. The fate of a sterile woman is very hard one indeed. None uncommonly she is made the object of conversation and ridicule by some of her female neighbors. If an occasion for quarrel arises, she gets the most painful telling off. Her woman rivals would call her Nwanyi-iga, (the sterile woman, the barren one). Sterile monster who has her maternal organs for mere decoration.
However, marriage is the union between a man and a woman for the duration of the woman’s life, being normally the gist of a wider association between two families. For the ordinary Igbo, marriage is the lawful living together of man and woman of different families for the purpose of begetting children after some rites have been performed. It is regarded as a mite-stone in the life of a man and a woman, which will enable them to immortalize their remembrance through their children. They regard consent as the most important element. Before marriage, a young man who loves a girl would speak to his parents about her. The parents will examine not only her physical beauty, but also her physical, mental and moral fitness, then her resourcefulness, graceful temper, smartness and generally ability to work well. Her parental background must also be investigated. This is as it should be for “such a tree such a fruit” Initial Inquiry by the Groom (Iku Aka): This is the initial and official declaration to the parents of the girl of the groom that he is interested in having their daughter as a wife. The prospective groom is accompanied by a small group made up of close family members such as his parents, one or two uncles and aunts. The visitors come with kola nuts and small amount of palm wine. Before the kola nut is broken and shared, the suitor’s party would state their intension to the bride’s family. The prospective bride would then be asked for her consent to accept the kola nut. If she fails to give her consent then, the process comes to an end. On the other hand, if she consents, then the kola nut and the wine is accepted and shared. Further visits are then scheduled before the groom’s party leaves.

Second and Third visitations, ( Mmanya Nne and Nna, Mmanya Ikwunne, Umunn and Isiada)
    If the initial introductory rite (Iku Aka ) is positive, the groom’s party will receive a list of what other steps are involved and what the requirements of the bride’s clan or town are. There are variations from one town to another. With each additional visitation, the size of the groom’s party continues to increase until the apex visitation which is the Igba Nkwu ceremony. The first visitation to the bride’s family is for the purpose of mmanya nne na nna (wine for the bride’s parents). The groom’s party is limited to about 6 to 10 persons, and their gifts will include kola nut, palm wine, beer, soft drinks and tobacco. The bride’s family will prepare food and serve the visitors. The third visitation at the bride’s home is for the purpose mmanya umunna, which is to inform the extended family from the bride’s father’s side that someone is interested in marrying their daughter. For this visitation, the groom’s party may number up to 20, and the number and assortment of gifts and drinks also increase. A goat is often a meal for the visitors.
In some communities, the rites of mmanya ikwunne and that of mmanya Isi Ada are of mandatory while it is not mandatory in some communities. The former is to inform the relations of the bride’s mother that someone wants to marry their daughter. The latter is for the first daughter of the bride’s father or family. The groom’s party is limited in both cases, and the gifts are identical in scope and size, but they must include kola nuts, palm wine, beer, soft drinks, heads of tobacco and snuff. The consent from these entire distinct family members must be secured before the final marriage rites are agreed to and scheduled. Followed is the Bride wealth/ Dowry Settlement: This rite may be done as part of Igba Nkwu, but in general, it requires a visitation to the bride’s family. In the past, at the end of the lengthy negotiations which can take a whole night, money does change hands. These days, the exchange of money does not take place. Because of the difficulty in determining the value of a wife to a man, most families settle for a commitment from the groom that he would take good care of the bride and her children, and that he would assist the bride’s family with the training of the bride’s siblings. At the start of the dowry or bride wealth negotiations, the bride’s family will extol her virtues and accomplishments. Usually broom sticks are used to represent money. Thus, at the start, the bride’s family will present a huge bundle of broom sticks which is what they believe their daughter is worth. The groom’s parties will then go out and consult with themselves and come back with a counter offer which is in the form of a much reduced bundle of broom sticks. The bride’s family will again go to their meeting and agree on a slightly reduced amount. This back and forth session will continue until a final count (amount) is agreed to.

 Traditional Marriage (Igba Nkwu)
This is the final ceremony to consummate the marriage, and it takes place in the bride’s family compound. The guest list from both the groom’s and bride’s families is often unlimited. Depending on the resources of the two families, several hundreds and even thousands of people come to witness the occasion. The entire extended family system, going as far back as they know is invited.. Both the groom and b ride would normally invite their friend, colleagues and co-workers in addition to member of the respective extend families. As is the case with other rites that come before Igba Nkwu, some communities specify items that the groom must present to the bride’s family. These would include kola nuts, palm wine and other assorted drinks, heads of tobacco, snuff, cloths jewellery, etc. for the bride’s family, it is also the occasion to show their love and care for their daughter. They would give her presents including cooking utensils for her new home. The bride’s compound is typically decked up for the event with extra chairs and tables brought in for the numerous guests expected. Often times, dance groups and musicians are in attendance to entertain the audience.



Traditionally, the attire of the Igbo generally consisted of little clothing as the purpose of clothing then was to conceal private parts although elders were fully clothed. Children were usually nude from birth till their adolescence (the time when they were considered to have something to hide). Sometimes, ornaments such as beads were worn around the waist for medical reasons. Uri body art was also used to decorate both men and women in form of lines forming patterns and shapes on the body. With colonialism and the westernization of Igbo culture, western styled clothed such as shirts and trousers over took traditional clothing. Males would wear loin clothes that wrapped around their waist and between their legs to be fastened at their back, the type of clothing appropriate for the intense heat as well as jobs such as farming. Men could also tie a wrapper over their loin cloth.
Modern Igbo traditional attire is generally made up of men, of the isiagu top which resembles the heads embroidered over the clothing, it can also be plain, (usually black). It is worn with trousers and can be worn with either a traditional title holders hat (a fez named okpu) or with the traditional Igbo stripped men’s hat (which resembles the bobble hat).for women, an embodied puffed sleeve blouse (influenced by European attire) along with two wrappers (usually modern Hollandis material) and head scarf are worn.
Women carried their babies on their backs with a strip of clothing binding the two with a knot at her chest. This baby carrying technique was and still is practiced by many people groups across Africa along with the Igbo who still carry their babies this way. This method has been modernized in the form of the child carrier. In most cases, Igbo women did not cover their chest areas. Maidens usually wore a short wrapper with beads around their waist with other ornaments such as necklaces and beads. Both men and women wore wrappers. Highly accomplished men and women are admitted into orders for people of title such as Ndi Ozo or Ndi Nze. Such individuals receive certain insignia to show their stature.
Membership in these orders is highly exclusive, and to qualify and individual needs more than mere material accomplishment or gallantry. They need to be highly regarded and well-spoken of in the community, and most importantly, they must be a person of the greatest integrity, truthfulness and sanity. The slightest impeachment of character is enough to disqualify and individual from becoming a person of title and once admitted into the other, a person of title is forbidden to lie, cheat, climb a tree, covet or strip their neighbor of their belonging or commit an abomination of crime.


Culture: can be said to be people’s ways of life, attitudes, behaviors, beliefs and most importantly cultures. In Nigeria, we have three major tribes in Nigeria, namely Igbo, House and Yoruba. Each of these tribes has their own culture that governs them. And this culture is described below. 
There is no doubt that Igbo land is the home of the Igbo people and it cover most of southeast Nigeria. This area is divided by the Nigeria River into two unequal sections,
  1.     The eastern Region (which is the largest)
  2.     The mid western region.

 However, has not acted as a barrier to cultural unity; rather it has provided an easy means of communication in an area where settlements claim different origin. The Igbo are also the Bini, warri, ijaw, ogoni, igala, Tiv, Yako and Ibibio.  The origin of the Igbo people has been the subject of much speculation, and it is only in the last fifty years that any real work has been carried out in this subject. Like any group of people, they are anxious to discover their origin and reconstruct how they came to be how they are, their experiences under colonialism and Nigeria independence have emphasized for them the reality of their group identity which they want to anchor into authenticated. 
Many of these people still show case different characteristics from that of the traditional Igbo. For example,
  • ·         Geographical marginality
  • ·         The institution of kingship
  • ·         A hierarchical title system
  • ·         And the Amosu tradition (witchcraft)
 For some time, some Igbo speaking people claimed that they were not Igbo, the word was used as a term of abuse for “less cultured” neighbors. The word is now used in three senses, to describe Igbo territory, domestic speakers of the language and the language spoken by them.