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RITES—Part Two

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MA'AT
(Truth and Justice),
The Spirituality of the African race.

Except for the Africans, every race or tribe in the world has its own spirituality and religions. The Jews have kabbalism, Indians Hinduism and Buddhism, Chinese Confucianism, Caucasians Christianity with their own son as the son of God; Arabs Islam with their son as Allah's messenger. Africans are the only race in the world besotted to their masters' Gods and intermediaries and yet Africans invented spirituality and religions and created all the Gods, which every tribe in the world adapted to its political needs. This document is only 22 pages out of a 240 page book entitled: Ma'at truth and justice, the spirituality of the African race. It, therefore, does not contain everything you need to know but provides enough to get you started on the ultimate and the most exciting spiritual journey of mankind. Every African is to switch individually to Ma'at now because it is African, it is the original, it is the truth, it is the most potent, it is the mother of all spirituality. If you are African, start individually to be Ma'at from today at home, practice Ma'at meditation and grow to spiritually rule the world, it is your birthright. Look at me. I am the embodiment of Ma'at cosmology. I know things, in fact, almost everything.

By NAIWU OSAHON

MARRIAGE

In the African tradition, marriage is a family affair. The African marries into a family, which makes the relationship difficult to break arbitrarily. The families on both sides of the intending couple must be involved from very early stages of courtship.

Children able to share their intimate thoughts with their parents benefit from the parents' mature experience and advise because parents are supposed to be the most caring and honest people about their children's welfare and future.

There are certain issues a child can more intimately share with either the father or the mother, of course, but for this to happen, an atmosphere of trust, openness and sharing, must first be created in the home by the parents. When parents relate to their children on a one on one basis and as a family, parents become the child's best confidants and friends. A child brought up in the tradition of the Ma'at would be humble, upright, respectful, and yet be able to freely discuss and exchange ideas with his or her parents. In such relaxed, intimate and happy family environment, suggestions can be freely offered, debated and tested before the intending couple takes the wrong steps.

IMORA
(Meaning verbal request or getting to know)

If both parents approve of the relationship and it is to lead to marriage, the family of the male in the courtship, sends emissaries to the family of the female in the courtship, to make their intentions known. They continue sending emissaries at every opportunity to demonstrate strong family commitment and honest intentions in the matter.

IKU-AKA
(Meaning knocking for attention)

One year to the anticipated wedding date, the family of the male lover, writes a formal letter of proposal to the family of the female lover requesting approval for her hand in marriage to their son.

AAGBA
(Meaning, we reject the proposal)

The family of the female lover, made up of close relatives on both her father and mother's sides would then meet to formally consider the letter of proposal. If their verdict is to reject the proposal, (this is called AAGBA), they would transmit this back to the family of the male lover and that usually would be the end of the matter. It means that the female lover's family would not support, sanction, or participate, in the particular marriage proposal in any form.

AAFE
(Meaning, we accept)

If their verdict is 'Yes' (called AAFE), then they would agree a meeting date with the male lover's family, to take place in the home of the female lover's family. This first formal meeting between both families, brings together four families actually. These are the relatives from the father and mother's sides of both the bride and groom to be.

At the meeting, family of the groom to be would formally verbally ask (this is still IMORA) collectively, for the hand of the other family's daughter in marriage to their son. They would accompany their request with a variety of quality gifts and refreshment items. Speeches would be made and the family of the bride to be would confirm their acceptance of the marriage proposal and the gifts. A date would be agreed for the engagement ceremony, which usually should be not later than six months before the wedding date.

IDANA
(Engagement ceremony)

The family of the bride to be would present to the groom to be family, at the AAFE meeting where the engagement date is fixed, a list of items to bring to the engagement ceremony. The items include:

(1) A token amount in currency notes in the relevant national
currency, i.e., in Nigeria, naira, in Britain, pound and in the USA, dollar. This is to be presented in an envelope. It is not a dowry because no value can be put on the head of a precious daughter. It is known as WARUESE. It is used by the parent of the groom to be, to show appreciation for the love, care, and great expense the parent of the bride to be, lavished on their daughter to make her so highly desirable, and to prepare her for the joyous occasion.

(2) A packet or small bag of salt to purify and season the union.

(3) Kola nuts (a dozen), to confer longevity and invoke the blessings
of the Eternal Spiritual Force and of our ancestors on the union.

(4) Bitter kola (a dozen), for the couple to grow old in the union and
to remind them that life could be sweet and bitter.

(5) Corn (a basket full), for fertility and successful family harvest.

(6) Honey (a large jar or bottle), the health giver and life sweetener.

(7) Yams (a dozen large tubers), for the union never to suffer hunger.

(8) Fabrics (unsown bales of African design materials), by special
request from the female members of the bride to be family. This is to keep the potential female in-laws happy and co-operative.

(9) Cash gifts (in envelopes), to the elders male and female and to
all the immediate female members of the bride to be family to guarantee minimum discord.

(10) Water, clean and fresh, to be used for libation by the oldest
male member of the bride to be family, to open and close the ceremony and invoke the Eternal Spiritual Force and our ancestors' presence and blessings.

On the engagement day, a senior male member of the groom to be family presents all the above items to the bride to be family with a speech confirming how happy they are about the union of the two families. A senior member of the bride to be family accepts the ceremonial items and gifts with appropriate speech.

The senior member, in public view, then opens the envelope containing the token amount (WARUESE), from the other family. Takes one note out of the envelope and returns the rest of the money in the envelope along with the envelope, to the senior male presenter from the groom's family with the following words: “We have taken our share (shows the one note taken out of the envelope to the guests or audience), the rest is for your family to take care of our two children getting married.” The young members of the bride to be family put away the gift items to be shared and used later by the bride to be family.

The space is thus cleared for joint family banter and revelry using refreshments specially provided for the occasion by the groom to be family.

WAKA
(Mother's lament)
On the eve of the wedding day, mother of the bride to be makes up songs all day, lamenting the imminent pains of losing her precious daughter, a special jewel and pet, nurtured with passionate love through hard and good times. She will always miss her warmth, sweet companionship, so she had better bring her a grandchild soon to ease her pains.

EKUN IYAWO
(Daughter's lament)

In the morning of the wedding day that the daughter is supposed to move out of home finally, she responds to her mother's songs with impromptu songs of her own. Weeping (real tears), over having to leave her beloved mother that gave her life, wonderful, supportive father, intimate family and the home that has meant so much to her all her life.

MASUKUN
(Don't cry my love)

The father goes to her to console her and give her courage with sweet words; hugging and planting a warm, loving 'daddy' kiss on her forehead. Daddy then gives her a surprise, rare, precious, personal gift to serve symbolically as the umbilical cord between her and her parent.

AHENFLO
(Ma'at's Wedding Ceremony)

Asho-oke or similar material (i.e.. woven African fabric) is a popular wedding fabric in the African world. The bride, bridegroom, maids, and male attendants, all use Asho-oke to sew their outfits.

The bride's outfit consists of Buba, Iro, and Gele, made out of predominantly light blue (for love), Asho-oke. She wears several layers of beaded necklace, beaded bangles and also decorates her hair stylishly with beads.

Her hair could also be the Rasta style or any other creative, unique African hairstyle or could be lavishly braided or richly collected and piled elegantly on her head like a deep, robust crown of hair, making her look like the famous regal Queens of Edo kingdom. This Queen's hairstyle is called OKUKU. The beads the bride wears are of the expensive variety, maroon in colour, and known as IVIE.

The maids are divided into two groups, i.e., junior and senior maids.
The junior group comprises of boys and girls aged between 3 and 10 years and numbering 12 to 20. They are called OMO ODODOS (flower children). The OMO ODODOS wear whitish Asho-oke for purity and innocence. They each carry a bunch of attractive, colourful, flowers, including the Nyanyar leaves (popular in Ghana), which Africans use to attract success. They are also lavishly beaded.

The senior maids are called OSINGINS and are all girls 10+ to unmarried 25. There are between 12 and 20 of them. They wear predominantly yellow and purple Asho-oke, indicating warm, ripe passion. Their outfits are identical in design to that of the bride and they too are richly beaded. The bridegroom's Asho-oke is mainly green in colour, suggesting agriculture and industry. It is sewn into Agbada (top), Buba (large shirt), Shokoto (trouser), and Fila (cap).
The cap is made out of the same material as the rest of the bridegroom's outfit and worn with the top or tail compressed on the head and flapped teasingly to the left or right hand side of the head.
This is to say, “I am in charge here.”

The male attendants (are called KUTUKUZAS) and are aged 10+ to unmarried 30 and numbering between 12 and 20. Their outfits are similar in design to that of the bridegroom but darkish-red in colour to suggest towering but controlled masculinity and aggression.

When a group of people who are mostly non-relatives of the celebrants wear outfits made out of identical fabric and colour, (could be Asho-oke or any other fabric), it is called Asho-egbe. Therefore, the maids and male attendants are wearing collectively, Asho-egbe.

When a group of relatives' friends or people do the same thing, it is called Asho-ebi. For example, family on the mother's side might want to distinguish their group (in the way they dress on the occasion) from the father's side or between the bride and the groom's families
or even groups within family groups. What each or all of these
groups wears (despite the variety between groups), is collectively called Asho-ebi.

The bridegroom arrives at the Ma'at premises with his attendants, at least 45 minutes before his bride. After parking their cars, the bridegroom and his attendants assemble in the courtyard of the Ma'at.
If the weather does not permit, they can assemble under the main porch of the Ma'at and enter straight from there.

The bridegroom walks majestically, like the Prince charming that he is for the day, surrounded by his attendants, all looking elegantly turned out. They march, gyrate, and swagger to elevating tunes of the KHAKAAKI trumpets. The KHAKAAKI is a very tall, slim, Hausa trumpet, used in heralding the approach of a king (Emir), in Northern Nigeria.
Between 3 and 7 Khakaakis are required, for leading the bridegroom's group into the Ma'at.

At the Ma'at's main entrance, everyone touches the African sand (EDUN-ARA), before entering the hall. The Khakaaki men, blowing triumphantly to set the atmosphere inside the hall musically ablaze, enter the Ma'at first, followed gracefully by the bridegroom's attendants. As the bridegroom takes his first step into the Ma'at, three GANGAN (talking drum) players emerge from within the Ma'at to welcome the bridegroom and his attendants, and usher them, marching backwards and drumming profusely, to the front seats in the hall. The guests or audience at that very moment too, rises to receive the Prince of the occasion. Only the Ma'at's senior officers and elders may remain seated during such occasions.

The Gangan and Khakaaki players lead the group slowly through the middle of the hall to the front row seats facing the dais. There, the bridegroom sits in the middle of the front row chairs to the right hand side of the hall with his escorts all sitting to his left and right hand sides.

At the very moment when the bridegroom sits, the Kuimba Kundi (Ma'at's music group), kicks off a frenzied medley of African musical classics.
This serves as command for the audience to sit, and the Gangan and Khakaaki musicians to stop playing. Kuimba Kundi uses the occasion to display individual virtuosity on a variety of African musical instruments. Heavy drumming sounds dominate this session with the audience happily singing along and dancing on their seats.

Twenty minutes into the Kuimba Kundi's session, OMO ODODOS, enter the Ma'at from the main entrance singing, dancing and generally enjoying themselves. Kuimba Kundi stops playing immediately the Omo Ododos emerge at the main entrance of the Ma'at. Each Omo Ododo carries a lively, fresh, attractive bunch of flowers.

Members of the audience receive the Omo Ododos with loud ovation and join in the singing and dancing from their seats. When the Omo Ododos get to the dais, they put on a special display of dancing and singing, showing off individual skills particularly of their youngest members.

In the meantime, the bride's team has assembled in the courtyard of the Ma'at, possibly in the opposite direction from where the bridegroom's group started out. If the weather does not permit this, the group could start out from under the entrance porch of the Ma'at.

The bride, looking resplendent and royal like a Princess, is encircled by her equally attractively attired maids (OSINGINS), who are singing, dancing and shaking the SHEKERE (bead laced gourd). Each maid has a Shekere.

The Osingins enter the Ma'at hall before the Princess of the day. As the Princess steps into the Ma'at hall, the audience erupts in spontaneous euphoria, standing, clapping, and joining in the singing and dancing. At that point too, the Omo Ododos stop singing and dancing and take their seats on colourful African mats laid on the floor towards the back side of the dais.

The bride's train sings and dances its way slowly through the ecstatic audience reception. The bride's train finally settles in the front seats to the left-hand side of the hall. As the bride sits, surrounded by her maids, all sitting, the audience also sits.

The maids stop singing and dancing while the Kuimba kundi takes over, moving from their seats to the middle of the dais to display their musical expertise for 15 minutes. Flutes, bells (agogo) and shekere dominate this music session. An elder comes forward to pour libation, inviting our ancestors to bless the special occasion.

Nana or a senior female member of the Ma'at then steps forward and invites the bridegroom by name to join her on the dais. Nana then formally introduces the bridegroom by name to the audience as follows:
“(Use full name of bridegroom), standing by me here,” touches him,”
tells me he wants to get married. To get married, he must have a special lady in mind. There are so many beautiful, eligible, desirable, damsels here today so (use full name of bridegroom), I want you to show me who among them you want to marry?”

As the bridegroom heads in the direction of his bride, he is checked, disturbed, prevented by a crush of bridesmaids, taking turns to offer themselves. He receives them with affection and moves on, not with aggression, but laughing and showing profound respect for the efforts of his beautiful distracters.

Even in front of his bride eventually, before he can touch her, many more maids throw themselves at him to confuse him and shield his bride from him. When he finally succeeds in touching his bride's hand, he receives a loving welcome smile from her and a loud ovation from the audience, trumpeters, and drummers.

The dialogue that follows is to be adapted to suit the reality of the situation at the time of the wedding ceremony, especially as it concerns physical and other attributes of the wedding couple.

Nana:
(While the bridegroom is still on his feet, holding on lovingly to an arm of his bride who is sitting. (Use the full name of bridegroom), look at (use the full name of bride), properly. Is she the one you really want to marry?”

Bridegroom:
“Yes Nana.”

Nana:
“But you can see she is not the prettiest woman in the world. Look at her carefully. Her teeth overlap. Her legs are not well shaped. Her fingers are stocky. Her face is round and freckled. She is short and fat. Is she the one you really want to marry?”

Bridegroom:
“Yes Nana, she is the bride of my dream.”

Nana:
“You mean you accept her with all her faults?”
Bridegroom:
“Yes Nana, I do.”

Nana:
“Even though she walks as if she has sores on the soles of her feet?
See, her eyes are narrow. Her nose is too small. Are you sure you are not making a mistake?”

Bridegroom:
Still holding on to his bride lovingly, “I am positive she is the one I want to marry.”

Nana:
“With all her physical faults, what guarantee do we have that you would not abandon her, start treating her badly, start flirting once you meet another woman you consider to be more beautiful or something?

Bridegroom:
“I am absolutely satisfied with (bride's full name used), and no other woman can replace her in my heart. I really do love (full name of bride used), with all my heart. She is everything I crave for in a woman. I will love (full name of bride used), passionately until my dying days.”

The audience responds to that remark with a warm and enthusiastic applause.
Nana:
“Now that you have so many witnesses to your confession that (full name of bride used), will be the only love of your life, bring her here to the dais with you. We all want to see this great heart-throb of yours.” The bride follows the bridegroom to the dais looking a little shy while Kuimba Kundi revs up musical intrigue to heighten the love charged atmosphere. The audience responds enthusiastically, clapping. In the meantime, Baba has joined Nana on the dais.

Baba:
Turning to the bride (full name of bride used), “so you know (full name of bridegroom used)?

Bride:
(Smiling and looking very happy), “Yes Baba.”

Baba:
“You heard everything (full name of bridegroom used), said. Are you convinced that he is sincere?”

Bride:
“I am convinced, Baba.”

Baba:
“And you believe he loves you?”

Bride:
“I am certain he loves me, Baba.”
Baba:
“What about you, do you love him?

Bride:
“I love him with all my heart, Baba?”

Baba:
“But you know that (full name of bridegroom used) is not the richest man in the world. He does not have a house or a car. I don't even think he has many good clothes to wear yet.

“He only recently picked up a job and the pay is not that exciting, I hear. He will have to do two jobs to make ends meet at home. Do you want to go through such hassles with him?”

Bride:
“I do very much, Baba.”

Baba:
“I don't think you understand me well enough. (Full name of bridegroom used), could lose his job tomorrow or come home suddenly with no pay.

“Things might begin to get really rough for him, after you have married him. Are you going to abandon him then? Call him a stupid, irresponsible man and follow another man?”

Bride:
“I will never abandon (full name of bridegroom used). When things are rough for him, they are rough for me too. We are half part of each other. We would need each other the most during such trying times. I will stand by him through thick and thin to find solutions to our problems.”

Audience applauds the bride's remarks enthusiastically and with positive loud comments.
Baba:
Turns to the audience, “I think these young chaps here really do love each other or what do you all think?”

Audience screams: “They love each other.” Overwhelming comments:
“Marry them, we approve.” “They would make a happy and successful married couple.”

Baba:
Turns to the young couple, “You obviously have a lot of supporters here. Everyone is rooting for you two to get married. Everyone is convinced you would do everything possible to make a success of it if we marry both of you. What do both of you have to say to that?”

Bridegroom:
“I am happy and I promise here and now that I will do everything in my power to make a success of this marriage. I will not let you my supporters down, ever. I promise this, with all my heart and in the name of my entire family members.”

Bride:
“This marriage will be forever. I will work hard to make a success of it. I will keep this public vow in front of me always. I will never let you down. That is my promise to you all in the name of every member of my family.”

The audience receives the promises with enthusiastic applause and favourable loud comments.

Baba:
“Now that both of you have assured us of your determination to get married and make a success of it, you have left me with no option in the matter. But this is not a task for me alone to perform. You are marrying into a family. You are marrying into a community. You are marrying into a culture and a tradition. All of us, your families, our Ma'at community, everyone here today, have a stake in your marriage success. It is with great pleasure therefore, that I invite both your families to come to the dais to assist us in this life long journey you have both promised to embark upon.” Representative members of the couple's families move on to the dais with each family group standing besides the parents, sitting behind their child of the marriage. Audience welcomes the development, with enthusiastic applause.

Baba:
“You are very lucky children to have your family members behind you on this great occasion in your young lives. I assure both of you that the Ma'at community is fully behind you too. With that assurance, I now call on (full name of the bridegroom used), to put the Ma'at's marriage golden ring on the finger and golden watch on the wrist of your wife.”

Audience warms up enthusiastically to the successful execution of the bridegroom's assignment, making happy favourable comments.

Baba:
(Full name of bride used), “can now put the Ma'at's marriage golden watch on the wrist of your husband.” As the bride executes her assignment, Kuimba Kundi, the trumpeters and all, erupt with delirious musical rendition (a short piece) that inspires everyone in the audience to clap, sing and dance on their seats.

Omo Ododos:
The youngest of the Omo Ododos, walking daintily, almost falling, steadied and helped along by Nana not to spill the calabash of honeycomb she is carrying. She reaches the front of the newlyweds and offers them the calabash with its contents. The bridegroom lovingly scoops the child up immediately from her feet, with her calabash and all, to the delight of the audience.

Baba:
Bride's new full name used), “take a honeycomb from the calabash and feed your husband.”

Bride:
Happily picks a honeycomb from the calabash and feeds the husband devotedly.

Baba:
(Bridegroom's full name used), “now is your turn to feed your wife.”

Bridegroom:
Hands the honeycomb baby to Nana. Picks a honeycomb from the calabash and feeds his wife with great affection.

That done, the audience breaks into a celebrative orgy, throwing off inhibitions to freely express their joy through songs and dancing.

Baba:
When the euphoria dies down, says to the newlyweds while hugging them both together. “May the honey you have just shared sweeten your marriage into ripe old age.” In the meantime, the honeycomb baby has returned to join her group at the back of the dais.

Baba:
“It is now my pleasant duty to invite the family of (new full name of bride used), to give her away in marriage to the family of (full name of bridegroom used).”

The oldest person or spokesperson or father of the bride standing, holding the hand of the bride, addresses the groom's family as
follows: “Although our children here are old enough to get married, they are still too young to know about all the difficulties of life.”
Turns to the spokesperson or father of the groom, “You, like myself, has more experience of life than these children getting married here now do. That is why I am handing my daughter to you and your family rather than to the young groom (full name of groom used).”
“Your family is marrying into my family and mine into yours. We want your family to take special care of our daughter as you would your own daughter. She is young, inexperienced but ready to be corrected and to learn. She has been well brought up. She has had a happy home, a good home, a caring family background. You didn't pick her up helpless and destitute. She, of her own free will, decided to become part of your family. Don't treat her like a pauper or like someone you picked from nowhere, just because she has agreed to be a member of your family and to bear your family name. She now answers your name with pride. Don't make her feel at anytime, that she does not belong to your family because she is one of you now. She has our full support and blessings to join your family. On behalf of members of our families, I hand over our precious daughter (new marriage name of bride used), to your families.” He steps forward and makes the bride sit seven times (with the entire audience enthusiastically joining in the loud counting), on the lap of the leader (or father), of the groom's family.

In the meantime, the mother and other female relatives of the bride may be wailing or emotionally upset and unable to control their feelings and pains of losing their daughter. On the other hand, they might be singing, dancing and enthusiastically demonstrating their joy for the happy occasion. The leader of the groom's family robustly and warmly hugs the bride and while holding on to her lovingly, gets up to
say:

“This is a great day for our families. We have looked forward to this day with a great deal of enthusiasm. A lot of preparatory work went into this happy occasion and we are very happy it has turned out so well for all of us. (Bride's married name used), is now one of us and we are very honoured and proud of her. We promise we will look after her as we would our own daughter. She would never have cause to regret becoming part of our family.”

At this juncture, the Omo Ododos invade the newly-weds with Nyanyar leaves. While this is going on the newly-weds are led to a side table to sign their marriage certificates, witnessed by their parents and Ma'at elders, amidst heightened audience jollying by singing, dancing and clapping. After the signing ceremony, a Ma'at elder steps forward to pour libation to thank our ancestors for the successful ceremony. A Khakaaki trumpeter blows a sharp haunting sound that serves as cue for the maids to begin to prepare to lead the newly-weds out of the Ma'at.

The Omo Ododos dance and sing to form the advance party to lead the newly-weds out of the Ma'at. They continue to throw Nyanyar leaves on the path leading out of the Ma'at. The Omo Ododos are followed by a colourfully mixed group of maids and male attendants, singing, dancing, shaking the shekere, blowing the trumpets and playing the talking drums. A boisterous and memorable spectacle is thereby formed.

The newly-weds, follow immediately behind their maids and attendants.
Behind them, come their family members and well-wishers. As the newly-weds step out across the Ma'at entrance, Kuimba Kundi begins to play its last note for the occasion. A happy solo and chorus number that makes the departing audience wants to step back into the Ma'at to continue to sing and dance. The newly-weds, family members, Ma'at community and audience, move straight from the Ma'at marriage ceremony to the reception venue. At the reception, speeches by elders, family members, well-wishers, are interspersed with music, dancing, eating and making merry. When the newly-weds open the dance floor, they are 'sprayed' generously with cash by the guests.

The newly-weds, are advised not to expect marriage to be a bed of roses from day one and that there would be trials and tribulations.
Adjustments would be necessary and would be called for on both sides until a happy medium is struck. That trust and communication are two of the most important secrets of success in marriage and so they must talk to one another and must not keep secrets from each other. The ability to share, to listen, to learn, and to give and take, is critical to success because marriage is not a boss and servant relationship. Both the husband and the wife must remain each other's best friend at all times. There is no point in going into marriage if it is a punching bag one requires. Go and buy yourself a punching bag instead. It has no feeling, does not generally get hurt and has no family to hurt. The wife must become the husband's mother, sister, lover and best friend, and the husband his wife's father, brother, lover and best friend. Their future, is one now, and since no one forced them into it, they must both strive not to make anyone regret being supportive of their marriage.

Valuable gifts including cash to ease transition into married life are lavished by family members, friends and the Ma'at community on the newly wedded couple at the reception and after. The bridegroom rides in the same car with his bride from the reception to the bride's family home, promising to be back at a given time on the same day for his bride. At the appointed time, the bridegroom shows up with members (not parents), of his family. Members of her family (not
parents) escort the bride, having packed her suitcases ready, to her groom's family home in company of the bridegroom and family members.
The newly wedded couple takes honeymoon and or moves to their new home from his parent's home.

IBALE
Virgin Bride

African traditions extol the virtue of chastity before marriage. With modern trend towards shacking or cohabiting before marriage, chastity before marriage is getting difficult to sustain but shacking is not a viable substitute to commitment, marriage, and raising a solid family.
If the bride proves to be a virgin, the occasion of the virgin proof experience is celebrated. The special white bed sheet used is preserved with the virgin-bride's bloodstains on it. Within seven days after the honeymoon, the newly wedded couple must call a get-together in their home, of members of their fathers and mothers'
families and officials and elders of the Ma'at community. Fish dishes, fruits, fruit juices and vegetables, are generously served as refreshments on the occasion. The bridegroom after making a short speech at the party about his good fortune and great pride in finding himself such a virtuous better half, presents and rewards his virgin bride, with a valuable gift such as a car, or other peculiar significant cravings of her (the virgin's) choice.

The father of the bridegroom makes a rousing speech, praising and thanking the bride's parent for their perfect most desirable daughter.
He then invites his wife (the bridegroom's mother), to stand by his side. Both together present the virgin's bloodstained bed sheet and the bridegroom's circumcision blood stained piece of cloth along with other special precious gifts to the mother of the bride. The father of the bride, standing by his wife, and or mother of the bride, shows appreciation for the gifts. Then along with his wife, meticulously fold the blood stained clothes (with the small one inside the bed sheet), to make one neat bundle thus symbolically uniting and sealing up the marriage forever and ever. The bride's parent can either preserve the blood stained clothes permanently or wash the stains off after the newlyweds have produced their first child. Ma'at recommends that the blood stained clothes be preserved as folded until the death of either of the couple. The Ma'at community eventually throws an honours party to present the virgin bride's parent as models of parenting excellence in the community. Such parties can be arranged periodically to honour groups of qualified parents.
MARRIAGE PROBLEMS
Most African languages do not have word for divorce. Often it has to be coined from a combination of ideas. African traditional marriages are therefore stronger than most other marriage arrangements because African marriages cannot be broken arbitrarily or lightly. Neither of the couple can break a Ma'at marriage on his or her own or even through the law courts. The husband, for instance, cannot throw the wife out of their matrimonial home because the wife was betrothed to his family and only to his family can he try to return her, who would then put a series of family courts together. To attempt to break a Ma'at marriage, the families of the couple must be assembled (i.e., the relatives of the fathers and mothers of the couple and the Ma'at family), in a series of court like sessions, and it is rare for such family courts to sanction a break up. Every other avenue to save the marriage must be vigorously and exhaustively explored but if it must break, the entire traditional process that led to the marriage requires reversion and this could take time and patience. Quarrels and problems in the marriage can also be taken to some of the family members, or the full court by either of the couple as and when absolutely necessary.

IDI ICHIE
Adult Rites of Recognition

Since every Black person would be deeply involved in branch Ma'at activities, opportunities for individuals to make unique and profound contributions to the welfare of the immediate communities are boundless. The Ma'at will prepare an annual honours list and throw a big bash (dinner and cultural activities by special invitation only).
This is to reward Ma'at members who made the greatest impact on the community that year, with certificates of appreciation, plaques, and other awards, including naming institutions and facilities after some, and recommending the most outstanding among them for Chieftaincy titles from African kings. A titled Chief is known as ICHIE-CHE.

DEATHS

African traditions recognize the inevitability of death but abhor early, premature death, which is believed to be unnatural. Death of any person bellow the age of seventy these days, is viewed with some suspicion, and attributed by Africans, to evil forces and evil witchcraft. Africans put in a lot of energy to countermand perceived negative forces. For example, before birth, fetuses are spiritually tied to the mother's womb to ward off abortion or death. Pregnant mothers are protected super-naturally against evil forces. Before and after birth, everything from metaphysical, to medical, to spiritual, are employed to starve off death. Apart from sacrificing fowls, goats, tortoises, foodstuff etc., to pacify the harbingers of death, citations are frequent, concoctions and tonics popular, waistbands, armlets and special rings widespread, for delaying death.

Death in old age is considered a mere transfiguration into another realm of existence, which is glorious, enabling and dignified. Our ancestors do not die. They operate from their new realm to protect, guide, cajole, inspire, assist, bless, intercede, and intervene, in our affairs. We partake and benefit from their integrity and sagacity through reverence and acknowledgement of their potency as our most beloved spiritual intermediaries. But every death is painful to someone, the least being the immediate family members and friends.
For this reason, the African takes a great deal of care to break the bad tidings to those likely to suffer the most from the shocking news.
Parables and anecdotes are relied upon to convey the message, to soften the impact of the aches and discomfort.

A bereaved mother might be told that her “child or relative has gone on a long journey and should not be expected back for a while.”
Usually, some family members, friends, elders, and seers, in the community, would spend a number of days with the most distressed members of the bereaved family, telling stories, parables, jokes, and generally providing comfort or even the shoulder to cry on. All mirrors, reflectors, and photographs of the dead person in the house, are up-turned or covered, to protect children from seeing reflections.
The parents of the dead person do not see the body of their deceased child, and do not participate in the child's burial ceremony. They definitely would not eat or accept food and refreshments used in the burial activities. Such burials are speeded up because it is considered an abomination to die young and leave parents and older close relatives behind. Parents and senior brothers and sisters of the deceased do not have to know the grave of their juniors.

In the African extended family system all these are possible and easy to observe, but in our imposed individualistic Diaspora culture, everyone buries his or her dead. While the Ma'at is re-building the entire Black world family, fabric by fabric, individuals are free to observe aspects of this special (parent and child's) traditions that they are most comfortable with, and find practicable. They can, at least, start by not eating food and refreshments connected with the burial of their child. Corpse is carried in or out of the African home, legs first.

ORO-ILE
Rites of Resurrection

These are performed on the deceased two nights before burial. They are performed by members of the family of the deceased and could be any time in the evening. The gathering is used to discuss what makes the family unique and how to preserve their special legacy. The entire family sits around the deceased to raise fundamental issues about their collective essence, outlook, achievements, problems and strategies, for the future.

ORO-PAGI
Rites of Resurrection for titled Chiefs – ICHIE-CHE and elders of the Ma'at.

These are performed on the deceased two nights before or seven days after burial by, diviners, seers, and sages. During the darkest hour of the night, they contact and invite the deceased to reveal the cause of death, unsettled scores, debts, how wills may be executed if written wills are not available and so on. Only the brave, attend ORO-PAGI. Close relatives of the deceased, including sons and daughters, are exempt from the ceremony, even if any belongs to the leadership circle of the Ma'at fraternity.

AISUN-OKU
Wake-keep

Aisun-oku is an all night vigil observed on the night before the burial of the deceased. It brings together, everyone who knew, was associated, or wants to glimpse the body of the deceased lying in state. It is commonly observed with great fanfare dominated by live bands, refreshments, and dancing all night long. During the ceremony, a special crier, (could be a close relative of the deceased, or anyone sufficiently knowledgeable), sings in dirges (inspiring poetry), in praise of the lifetime work and activities of the deceased. Invoking his or her spirit to look after those left behind and help them to prosper. Usually, the dirges provoke strong emotions of wailing, vociferating, and grieving, by family members and close associates of the deceased. The dirges usually strike home, the final realization that the deceased is really no more. On the morning of the day of burial, close family members assemble by the bedside of the deceased for the last time, to talk intimately with the deceased, atone for
wrongs, make wishes and praise. This ceremony is called IPADE. The
corpse is allowed to lie in state until a few hours before burial.
Crying for the dead is called ISUKU and the burial ground is called ITE-OKU.

The burial ceremony itself should respect and follow the typical traditional requirements of the mourners. In the Diaspora the coffin is laid in the grave and spiritual elders of the Ma'at make grave side remarks and pray for the repose of the soul of the dead. The family members such as the children and spouses are then invited to throw sand on the laid coffin in the grave. Usually before covering the grave after the mourners have left, the burial experts or agents use
'Ewe Ero' to bind and send the spirit of the dead off. In the case
of an elder, 'sara' or get-together is held on the first day for the family and friends, followed by another three days later and a final one either nine days or forty-one days later.

For a young person whose parent or parents is or are still alive but who has a child or children of his or her own, there is 'sara' or get-together on the first day and three days later, no more. For the young whose parent or parents is or are still alive but who has no child of his or her own, there is no 'sara' or get-together,

Annual or periodic anniversary of the day of death is observed with immemorial notices in the press and family get-togethers, to keep the memory of the deceased alive. A typical memorial ceremony would assemble members of the extended family and friends of the bereaved for a get-together. After libation has been poured by an elder in the gathering, dignitaries in the audience are invited, one at a time, to light a red candle for every year the deceased has been missed, or for each of the deceased being mourned, on the occasion. Speeches follow from those who knew the deceased in real life, broken after every speech by moments of long silence and deep humming sounds, to emphasize the collective pains shared by the entire community as a result of the loss. The principal mourner/s after describing the emptiness and vacuum created by the loss in their lives, receive/s assistance in cash and or kind as a token of community concern.
Libation is poured again by an elder in the gathering to close the ceremony.

NAIWU OSAHON Hon. Khu Mkuu (Leader) World Pan-African Movement); Spiritual Prince of the African race; MSc. (Salford); Dip.M.S; G.I.P.M; Dip.I.A (Liv.); D. Inst. M; G. Inst. M; G.I.W.M; A.M.N.I.M.
Poet, Author of the magnum opus: 'The end of knowledge'. One of the world's leading authors of children's books; Awarded; key to the city of Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Honourary Councilmanship, Memphis City Council; Honourary Citizenship, County of Shelby; Honourary Commissionership, County of Shelby, Tennessee; and a silver shield trophy by Morehouse College, USA, for activities to unite and uplift the African race.
Naiwu Osahon: the Sage of the New World Order, renowned author, philosopher of science, mystique, leader of the world Pan-African Movement.

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Articles by Naiwu Osahon