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The Iko Marriage Tradition (2/2)

The third variety, Nketara translates to “that which is inherited”. Nketara is usually initiated between an unmarried girl and a man of her choosing, for the purpose of producing a male heir to further her father’s lineage. In this version, the girl and her lover live together as an unmarried couple and bear children which the man would have no claim to. Utugbara, the last variety, translates to “obtained with the penis” and is the lowest ranking of the Iko varieties, as its essence lies mainly in sexual pleasure and satisfaction and lacks the pressing economic or social drivers which validate other forms of Iko as necessary measures.

Overall, the Iko tradition—and other traditions like it elsewhere in Igboland—are live examples of the broad-mindedness with which the Igbo have traditionally approached the topic of sex. It is important to realize, however, that the introduction of Christian and Western influences have resulted in a cultural shift away from this practice and others like it and a distortion of indigenous attitudes and perceptions towards sex and social relationships. Today, remnants of the Iko tradition can be found in terms of endearment traded by husbands, wives, and family members such as Ikodie (her husband’s lover) and Ikonne (a daughter favored by her mother).#igbohistory


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