Unnamed Aṣọ Òkè-clad white couple stuns at Yoruba engagement ceremony – Tola Adenle

March 16, 2017

Yoruba Engagement aso oke

While the date, place and even names of the beautiful couple in these  photographs are unknown, it is clear that the bride and groom as well as their families and friends were all on board with the idea of a Yoruba-themed engagement ceremony. It is after this ceremony that Christian couples would go to church for the weddings while Muslims would perform the Nikai. This is an engagement ceremony, not the wedding.

I do not think this  took place in Nigeria – I note the palm – even though an event like this would not be strange in Lagos or Abuja, home to many expatriates. If it had taken place in Nigeria, the couple would most likely have a sponsoring family [of sorts] who would have shown in the pictures. But then, again, there is a container of cash that looks like Nigeria’s currency in one of the photographs; still wouldn’t be out of place outside Nigeria just as “spraying” foreign currencies is a madness of sorts at Nigerian events.

Wherever this took place, it was a grand idea that turned out beautifully.

Lending seriousness of purpose to the couple’s dream of an African wedding (Yoruba style), an Alága Ìduró – the groom’s spokesperson – can be seen at the back (a Yoruba woman in Diaspora but it could also be an enterpriing Nigerian woman from other parts of Southern Nigeria who speaks Yoruba fluently.  She is standing nearby as the groom prostrates perhaps for his family or his in-laws. The two families can also be seen from the different colors: groom’s family wore turquoise while the bride’s wore yellow.

There would also be present an Alágá Ìjòkó who would be the spokesperson for the bride’s family; notice the use of “spokesperson” because while the posts have traditionally belonged to women, men started muscling in once they notice how lucrative the job is; can’t blame them! Several times during the ceremony, the alagas – especially – the one that represents the bride’s family – sends collection trays round for money not just for the bride but especially for herself!  Usually, these spokespersons have assistants or trainees although as I once noted on these court jesters of sorts, hardly any training is required beyond the ability to kneel constantly (Yorubas like such people), and more importantly, a gift of cunning and the garb in Yoruba language that enable them get a lot of money from invitees.


Alaga Iduro leads the groom to bride’s family


The groom prostrates in salutation to his in-laws whose hands, including the cute little girl, are stretched forth in prayers


The groom poses with his groomsmen who are attired in their own aṣọ ẹbì, complete, of course, with their fìlà. In the container is money (looks like Nigeria’s Naira) collected for the groom although generally, money collected is usually meant for the bride.

Unfortunately, there’s no photograph to show the bride’s maids whose engagement outfits could be sewn into skirts and tops or bùbá and ìró with intricately-tied gèlè. After the bride, the young ladies always steal the show at Yoruba’s engagement ceremonies.

And, finally, a photograph of the couple after the bride joins the groom which comes close to the end of Yoruba traditional engagement.



The couple wore color-coordinated Yoruba outfits: complete men’s wear, including fìlà (cap) without which a Yoruba male’s dressing is outfit is incompete  been stated here time and time again. The bride is resplendent in her own complete outfit made with what looks like flowing lace fabrics. Her gèlè (head wrap; has no religious connotation but tradition) must have been tied by one of the pro gèlè experts common at event centers around Nigeria these days and in the UK and the USA, especially in major metropolises like London, Washington, D.C.,Dallas, Los Angeles … the “experts” could also combine make-up artistry as is also common in Nigeria these days.





Pictorial culled from:




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4 Comments on “Unnamed Aṣọ Òkè-clad white couple stuns at Yoruba engagement ceremony – Tola Adenle”

  1. Tao Says:

    May I take more issues with your so-called “traditional Yoruba engagement” as unfortunate and offensive disservice to the Yoruba and their ancient but constantly evolving culture. Yoruba cultural products like our marriage ceremony and ritual do not need to be ‘dis’qualified or undignified with the adjectival TRADITIONAL! Which, may one ask, is the MODERN type … the European ringing or engagement ceremonies?

    The point has already been made that the Dallas ceremony if it was meant to copy the Yoruba type was a WEDDING and not an ENGAGEMENT

    The PURITY, SANCTITY, ATTRACTIVENESS and ORIGINALITY of Yoruba ways of life are sociologically sui generis and should not be polluted, diluted or cheapened with misunderstanding, misrepresentation or misidentification as they have and will continue to pass the test of taste and time. They will accordingly be copied but please there is no cause case or need for selling or marketing them with European packaging.

    If and when the crass individualism of Euro-humanism has collapsed, it is the communalism that the FAMILY ( Ẹbí) represents in the Yoruba worldview that will protect humanity and the individual from the alienation and anxiety of so-called modern, mainly European ways. A wife among the Yoruba is the wife of the husband’s family: loved, valued, pampered and protected by all and not the accessory of her husband or wife as in so-called MODERN European marriages.

    Every AND any Yoruba should know and let all know that the unnamed Dallas couple may have been misled into believing they were performing an engagement. In the Yoruba world, they became a COUPLE, MAN AND WIFE, MARRIED, as the photo title rightly captioned their photograph, after the YORUBA WEDDING AND MARRIAGE.

    Little things make for importance but importance itself is a big thing.

    Thank you tao

    Sent from my iPad




    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Mr. Tao,

      Very many thanks for taking time to bring those who would read this now and in future better understanding of a culture that is fast being eroded even while mentioning, as I did in the earlier comments, that it may be difficult for culture to remain static.

      Our effort should be – at least through media like this – in working towards educating our people and non–Yoruba who may be interested in our cultural practices, about the true practices: betrothal, proper dressing vs. fads and fashions, giving of gifts, et cetera.

      Sincere regards & thanks,



  2. Tao Says:

    Alas we must be careful and correctly export the sociology of Yoruba matchmaking and marriage. Boy meets girl, the two families run checks for moral or health reasons why not; contact is made by the boy’s family, through a mutual friend (ALARINA) small party of head of boy’s family and his parents meet the girl’s – bride – informally in a get-to-know-you session (Mọ̀ mí n’mọ̀ Ẹ). All things being equally the road is clear for a marriage (Ìgbéyàwó).

    The Yoruba do not have a RINGING culture but exchange gifts at every stage. The concept or practice of ENGAGEMENT is not part of the Yoruba matchmaking or wedding ceremony.

    We are at a sad time when we are diluting the purity and solidity of an advanced and sophisticated culture for the tinsel of WESTERNISATION/EUROPEANIZATION … Yet the moral strength, antiquity and theatrical attractiveness of our ways refuse to crumble or disappear in this tragicomedy.

    When your family head and his party appear before your chosen partner’s family in such resplendence, make ur family eat dust and beg for their daughter to become their wife ( YORUBA MARRIAGE IS A TWINNING OF THE TWO FAMILIES) If and when ur wishes are granted, best wishes and prayers offered, THE COUPLE IS MARRIED … simplicitas! White weddings, foreign religions add little to that fact. To some the latter blessings to a married couple and more affectation and avoidable expense of a second foreign ceremony.

    THE YORUBA IGBEYAWO IS NOT, CANNOT BE AN “ENGAGEMENT”. When the ALAGAS (a new addition) have earned their fees and guided the couple and two families to a successful marriage IGBEYAWO, before the law and in the eyes of the families and of ELEDUMARE, the couple is married. The rest is at best icing and gloss.

    YORUBA IGBEYAWO IS NOT AN ENGAGEMENT AS THE EUROPEANS HAVE IT. The Yoruba are also NOT A RINGING CULTURE. The Yoruba do not treat a woman as chattel or game to be trapped and ringed. Women are treated better and held in high esteem among the Yoruba. Yoruba daughters are valued and priceless tao

    Sent from my iPhone




    • emotan77 Says:

      Dear Sir,

      Thank you very much for this very illuminating commentary on a subject I cannot escape. I agree with you even while seeing a few of the modifications from the past as necessary. The following is from an essay I wrote first for my column in THE COMET ON SUNDAY back in 2004, my first public foray into the area of what was then going on with the Yoruba betrothal, et cetera. It was later posted on this blog after it started. Titled YORUBA BETROTHAL AND ACCOMPANYING BIZARRE BAZAAR, the quoted part speaks for it but the link is posted after the excerpt:

      Little by little, the events preceding the wedding day are being stretched to points that can no longer be described as Yoruba culture and these are due in no small measure to the alagas. Worse, the engagement-as-theatre has become a bellwether to betrothal ceremonies in other parts of the country. Earlier in our history – not two hundred years ago because those of us who can still walk around without the aid of walking sticks met the practice – a betrothed girl would be ‘abducted’ by able-bodied young men on a moonlit-night and off she went to her husband’s home! Now, between the barbaric practice of plucking a girl from amidst her friends during a game of enyin agutan mi e wa s’ile or b’oju, b’oju, o, and a bleached adult male acting the jester lies a wide gulf.


      Sincere regards,



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