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Mgbede Rites

Updated: May 12, 2020



In certain areas of Igboland, when a young maiden became engaged to a man, she would undergo a long preparatory period known as "mgbede", which could last for several market weeks or a few native months. While undergoing this process, she would be isolated from society and placed in a “fattening house” to be later unveiled on her wedding day. The young bride would be attended by several female servants who would do chores and domestic duties in her place, and she would be placed under the supervision of her mother, who would offer her abundant counsel on the nature of a proper housewife. During this lengthy period, the bride would do as little work as possible and would eat several times a day, so as to grow plump and shapely. The performance of the "uri mgbede" (mgbede dance) on her wedding day would signify the completion of her transformation from a young girl to a woman capable of managing a home.


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