(In Nweke's house. Ibe and Onwukwe, his father, his mother, Nwamkpa, Nwamkpa's wife, another elder, two other relatives of Ibe. The two of them and Onwukwe also carry wine. They all are suitably dressed. They start out for Nweke's place. He and his brother, Mbakwe, are conversing when they hear a knock at the door. Ibe's father leads the way.)
Obike: Hello there.
Nweke: Ahaa! Have you come? Mbakwe, please, my brother, help them put down the things they are carrying. Please, take chairs. How are the people of your household and your children?
Obike: They are fine.
(Mbakwe settles things down and come to shake hands with them. Nweke enters the house and puts kola nut on a tray and comes out. He first greets them again, then shakes hands with them.)
Nweke: Mbakwe! Please, my brother, go and call Nwaizu and Izukamma for me. Tell them that I want to see them right away. You and they come together. (He goes out.) Diwumma!
Diwumma: Master. (She enters and greets the guests.)
Nweke: Come and take this kola and put it aside. When I want it you can give it to me.
Nwaizu and Izukamma: Hello here. (They look around.)
Nweke: Ahaa, have you come? (Those who have come answer them.) Yes! Nwaizu and Izukamma, welcome. Please come and have a seat. (He shows them chairs.) Diwumma! Diwumma!
Diwumma: Master! (She comes before him.)
Nweke: (In a loud voice) Bring me that thing. Once you get inside the room you don't know what people are talking about. Nwaizu my brother, take kola and give it to the guests.
Nwaizu: Izukamma, brother, we have brought kola.
Izukamma: Thank you my brother. Now show it to our guests. (He shows it to the guests.)
Nwaizu: Sir, it is said that the chief's kola comes back to the chief.
Nweke: Please prepare it my brother. (Nwaizu breaks the kola and first gives it to Nweke, then comes and gives it to the others.) My brothers, that has been the kola.
Everyone: Thank you, sir. You have done well with the kola.
Nweke: Nwaizu and Izukamma, my brothers, I am the one who sent Mbakwe to go and call you. You have seen those who are here with us. Mbakwe! Bring out those people's wine. (Mbakwe quickly brings out a pot of wine.) It is they who came carrying all this wine. Thus you saw them as I have seen them. But before they say what their wine is for, we will first drink a bit of it, because our people say that if wine goes well, people drink it, and if it does not go well, people will still drink it.
Everyone: It is customary.
Nweke: Mbakwe! Get something to distribute this wine. (They start to drink wine and tell various stories, then Nwamkpa rises to speak.)
Nwamkpa: Our people, I greet you.
Nweke and his people: Thank you!
Nwamkpa: We are pleased with the way you have received us. It is true that this is the first time we are coming here on this type of journey. Our people say that the toad does not run around in the daylight without a reason.
Nwaizu: Something caused the cocoyam to cry "nwim."
Nwamkpa: (I know that you know.) There is a ripe apple we saw at Nweke's house. It is on account of that apple that we came, to find out if it would fall down for us. Speech is a proverb. Thank you.
Others: Thank you!
Nweke: Diwumma! Diwumma!
Nweke: What are you doing in the kitchen? Bring your chair and come and sit here. (She goes and brings her chair and sits near her husband.) My brothers and my wife Diwumma, you have heard what the Akabo people said. They said that they have seen a ripe apple in my house. That they came to find out if that apple would fall down for them. I don't know what you think about this matter. This is also a matter for the relatives.
Nwaizu: Sir, and my brothers, it is said that the owner of the corpse carries it at the head. We are watching your mouth before we know what we will say.
Nweke: All right. I knew what caused me to speak like that so we should not do too much talking around this issue. Everyone here understands that it is my daughter Ugomma they are talking about. The time has passed when parents take the responsibility for selecting for their child the person she will marry or the person who will marry her. Many things have changed. It seems to me that we should call Mma and ask her what she thinks.
Izukamma: Brothers, please wait a minute. Why do we stay here wasting time? Since the hat is in the market, and the head is in the market, what then is this hat--will it fit on the head? Let us call Mma and ask her and find out what she will say.
Diwumma: My kinsmen, may you live long. I also agree with what Izukamma said. Everything is up to Ugomma. It is said that the person who wears the shoe knows where the thorn has pricked him.
Nweke: Thank you brothers. Your words have been understood. Good! Very good!
Ugomma: Father! (She walks proudly out of the kitchen.)
Nweke: Come my child, come and greet our guests.
Ugomma: Welcome (in a soft voice).
The Guests: Thank you, child. (Ibe and Onwukwe smile and exchange glances.)
Nweke: Sit down, my child. These people are from Umueme Akabo. They say that they have come on your account. They have brought this wine. Do you say that they should come or do you say that they should not come?
Ugomma: Let them come.
Nweke: If you want them to come, drink a little of this wine and take it to someone who is with them. (She takes wine, bends down and sips a little, then goes and takes the rest to Ibe. Dancing and singing break out everywhere.)
Obike: Igbo kwenu! (Hurrah!)
All: H a a!
Obike: Akabo kwenu!
All: H a a!
Obike: Agbaja kwenu!
All: H a a!
All: H a a!
Obike: We thank you very much, my in-laws, for the great honor and respect that you have given us today. For my own part, I give you special thanks because one whose daughter has been promised a husband, is himself promised a husband. Another thing I want to know from my in-law Nweke concerns how we will handle things that have to do with the woman's bride price, because ten days from today is Afo, when my son Ibe will set off on his journey overseas. He wants his wife to join him as well. Thank you.
Izukamma: Thank you. Your words are appropriate.
Nweke: My in-law Obike,
thank you. I have heard what you said.. I do not know what you mean by
the woman's bride price. My daughter says that it is your son, Ibe, who
will marry her. I give her to you in marriage. The only thing I want from
Obike: Please, speak up. If there are customs you have, we will fulfill them. Those customs of your kinsmen, tell us what they are and we will fulfill them. Thank you.
Izukamma: Nwizu, quickly tell them what belongs to the kinsmen, because it is said that the one who carries the corpse at the head knows the way of the spirits. It is just last week that your in-laws came and did all the ceremonies for you. Our brothers, isn't that so?
His Relatives: Yes, that's right.
Nwizu: Those things are: Fourth day journey: four heads of tobacco, four two-handled pots of wine, four bundles of snuff [in leaf form], four containers of ground snuff. Four bottles of spirits, four packs of the young men's foreign cigarettes, and money to be used for the counting of these things. My brothers, is that it?
His Relatives: That's right.
Nwizu: When you finish
this, you will still do for us things for the eighth day journey. These
things are: eight pots of wine, eight heads of tobacco, eight bundles of
snuff, eight containers of ground snuff, two jars of wine, eight bottles
of spirits, eight packs of the young men's foreign cigarettes, a goat for
the kinsmen to eat, and money to push down the wine pots. After you
Nweke's Other Relatives: Wait , Nwizu, that's not all.
Nwizu: Whoever knows what is left, let him speak.
One of his Brothers:
Nwizu, you have done well, you have tried. Your are very clever. You have
remembered all these things, but there is still something remaining.
Izukamma: Wait and let me speak. If I don't speak at my own turn, when am I going to speak? If a person says something belongs to him, it belongs to him, but if a person says his thing belongs to someone else, then it belongs to someone else.
Nwizu: If you know what remains, say it right here so the public can hear it. Pregnancy can not be covered with the hand. This thing we are experiencing in every month, is there anyone who will not be aware of it? When everyone knows, there will be no lying.
Izukamma: In-laws, may you live long.
In-laws: Long life to you as well.
Izukamma: What we are saying here is our tradition, we will not shrink from it just because our child and your child will be going abroad. We’ve been seeing these things for a long time. Before we saw you, several of our children had already gone abroad and returned. Some of them are still there. What I am saying is that what we are telling you is our custom is not an unusual thing. We will not stuff our mouths because of you; neither will we starve because of you. Our relationship will go well. Our countrymen, isn't that how it is?
Everyone: Yes, that's how it is!
Izukamma: Another thing that remains is what we call opening the door. There are not too many things involved in it. They are these: four two-handled pots of wine, four heads of tobacco, four bottles of European wine, four packs of European cigarettes, four containers of snuff, and money to use for counting wealth. [Wealth here refers to the bride.] After you have done these things for us, my in-laws, and you take the wife. When a daughter is very beautiful, is it her father who is going to marry her?
The Others: No-o!
Izukamma: Friends, that is all. After you have completed everything, what you and our in-law have decided on, let it be that way. One does not marry a woman completely. Thank you.
The Others: Thank you!
All: Good health to you.
The lights go out.
ACT FOUR, Scene 2
(Four days later. Obike's relatives, Ibe and their sisters and their women all gather. They carry wine, lead goats, bring various tobacco products and everything they were told to bring. They enter and knock on the door.) Knock! Knock! Knock!
Nweke: Who is it?
Obike: It is we, my in-law!
Nweke: Oh, welcome, in-laws. You are welcome. Greetings!
His In-laws: Greetings.
Nweke: How about my sister-in-law? And your children?
Obike: There is your sister-in-law, Ogbediya. Our children are in good health.
Nweke: Where is my wife, Diwumma? Please come and see me!
Diwumma: My in-laws, greetings. Welcome.
Nweke: My in-laws, sit down. There are chairs. (They sit down.) Mmaji! Mmaji!
Nweke: Please go and call my brothers. Tell them that important guests have arrived.
Mmaji: Yes, father. (She goes out.)
Nweke: My in-laws, good health to you. (He shakes their hands one by one and greets them all; Mmaji then comes in.)
Mmaji. Father, they are coming. (Five people show up. Some bring their chairs, hold cigars in their mouths, and some carrywalking-sticks.)
Nweke's Brothers: Welcome, our in-laws. Greetings.
Nweke: (Comes out and greets them, then brings kola and presents it to them through his brother Mbakwe.) Mbakwe, here is the kola. Take it and distribute it.
Mbakwe: (Presents it to Izukamma.) Our elder, kola has come.
Izukamma: My brothers and my in-laws, kola has come.
Everyone: We have seen it, proceed now.
Izukamma: Friends, thank you all!
The Others: Thank you!
Izukamma: Friends, let the kola be blessed.
The Others: Let's start.
Izukamma: Our ancestors,
look at this kola; come and join us in blessing it and take your share
as well. It is said that the fire that is given to a child does not burn
him to death. Our lives and the lives of our friends who have come, may
we live long! The one who says that we will not live, may his thoughts
go with him.
The Others: Amen. You did it.
Izukamma: Thank you. Son, split this kola so we can eat. (They start to chew the kola.)
Nweke: Also take this wine to wash it down.
Izukamma: Mbakwe, this is up to you. Pour this wine. (They then start to drink and chat together.)
Nweke: Our friends, peace!
Nweke: Our in-laws, peace!
Nweke: Igbo people, peace!
Nweke: My kith and kin and my in-laws, I want to remind you that guests come with their own agendas. My kinsmen, thoseyou see here are our in-laws. It is said that a matter that has already been discussed needs only a nod of the head to beconfirmed. Thank you!
Izukamma: Nweke, you are expecting us to finish drinking the wine, and what you said is good because it is getting dark.
Obike: My in-laws, I thank you. Especially do I thank my in-law Nweke and all of you for the fine reception you gave to me and my kinsmen. I have also seen that our mission has been fulfilled. The reason we came is so that you and we could consult with those kinsmen today. If there is still something remaining, my in-law and I will settle it later. Thank you.
Nwaizu: Friends, everything sounds good to me. But what we should do is this: It is true that everyone has eyes but not everyone sees the road. We will go into the house and see if all our needs have been satisfied. If they have, we will tell you; if they have not, we and they will correct things and tell you all. Kinsmen, is that satisfactory?
The Others: It is!
(A few of Nweke's in-laws and his kinsmen then leave. As they go out, the wine-drinking continues. Afterwards, theyre-enter.)
Izukamma: Igbo kwenu o!
The Others: Ho!
The Others: Ho!
Izukamma: My kinsmen
and my in-laws, when a market price is agreed on, there will be no quarrel.
As Nwaizu told you, when one is completely familiar with a place he changes
position. Izu is not a brave person. After this week, we will discuss it.
We have seen with our own eyes that our in-laws have done more than what
they were told to do. I thank them very much. My in-laws, you have done
well. (He shakes their hands one by one.) I think that what is good for
me is good for my God. What we will do now is eat and drink. After we finish
eating and drinking, anyone who still has something on his mind, let him
Everyone: Thank you!
Obike: My in-laws, may you live long. I think that is all for now. Izukamma, my in-law, you are in charge here. Nweke and Ogbediya, you have done well. Where are my son and our daughter? My kinsmen and my in-laws, we thank you. We will be on our way home, as it is getting dark. Thank you, my in-laws.
Everyone: You are welcome!
Nweke: Thank you, my in-laws. I congratulate you for all you have done. You have made me proud. You deserve thanks. Now hurry, Mma, see your husband Ibe and hold on to him well. When you travel, may God lead you. Four years is not four hundred years. May God lead you. My in-laws, I thank you again. I wish you well. Goodbye.
(Dancing then breaks out, everyone gets up, Ibe takes his wife. They start to dance and then all go home.)
The lights go completely out.