There was a mild drama in a wedding ceremony in a church in Calabar, Cross River State, when the bride’s father and a cleric disagreed on who between the two had the power to declare the couple as husband and wife.
The wedding, held on 9 September at Liberty Gospel Church, Calabar, was live streamed on Facebook.
The groom was Francis Mbosowo and the bride, Kubiat, according to the information on the Facebook page.
Helen Ukpabio, an apostle and founder of the church, who officiated the wedding, publicly asked the bride’s father if the groom had fulfilled all the traditional requirements before the church could go ahead to “join them as husband and wife”.
“They are already husband and wife,” the bride’s father responded. The congregants laughed out loud.
“No, they are not until we pronounce them,” Mrs Ukpabio said to the man.
“But has he satisfied you?” She asked him.
“They are already husband and wife,” the bride’s father responded again, sounding adamant. The congregants, again, laughed out loud.
The exchange between the cleric and the bride’s father, quite an uncommon scene in a wedding ceremony usually considered a solemn event, especially the moment where a priest is about to declare a couple husband and wife, appeared to have provided entertainment for the congregants at the Liberty Gospel Church.
“Okay, did you hear what I said?” Mrs Ukpabio asked the bride’s father, who turned around and gazed at the apostle who was standing at the podium, a few metres away from where the groom, the bride and their families stood.
“I said, has he satisfied you? You are not coming (here) to make a pronouncement. I will make the pronouncement,” Mrs Ukpabio said firmly.
“Has he satisfied you?” Mrs Ukpabio asked again.
The man did not respond. There was silence inside the church. The man glanced at his daughter and the man who would be her husband. The three spoke among themselves in low tones.
‘No, you didn’t join them’
The apostle repeated the question in the Efik language, in case the man did not understand English.
The man said he understood the question she was asking.
He told the apostle he had pronounced the couple as husband and wife during the traditional marriage rites, which took place a few days before the church wedding.
“No, you didn’t join them,” the apostle said to him. “I am the one to join them together, in the name of Jesus.”
“Did this young man satisfy you according to the tradition of your list? You gave him a list, did he satisfy you?” she asked for the eighth time.
“If you said you had joined them together, we dismiss (from here) and everybody goes away.”
Mrs Ukpabio was getting frustrated with the man’s attitude, it appeared. “What’s the problem here? Has this man given you your traditional rights?” she asked him again.
“Yes, he had given!” The man, who now appeared to have finally given up, responded. The congregants burst into laughter. The groom laughed too.
“Eehee! That’s what you should have said.”
The apostle asked the groom’s family if they knew the bride, and if they were willing to accept her into their family. They responded in the affirmative.
Mr Ukpabio continued with the wedding ceremony, including the groom unveiling the bride, the exchange of marital vows and rings, before she finally declared the couple as husband and wife.
“In the Mighty name of Jesus! Our father, a new home has begun,” she prayed for the couple.
“Our father, we declare that every other foundation that someone had laid on account of these people is hereby destroyed, and destroyed, and destroyed, and destroyed. We scattered, we uproot, we cast out, (and) we burn with fire in the name of Jesus!”
“Amen!” the congregants chorused.
Church wedding (some people call it ‘white wedding’) is a culture that was handed down to Nigerians by the Europeans through colonisation.
Some Nigerians prefer to go to the church for their wedding after doing it the traditional way. There are still others who would love to add a third one – court marriage.
Mrs Ukpabio was simply following a time-honoured ceremony in a typical Christian wedding in Nigeria where the church seeks the consent of both parents before pronouncing a couple husband and wife but the action of the bride’s father raises a fundamental question of when a marriage could be said to have really taken place – is it when a priest makes a declaration or when the parents of the bride and the groom give their consent, during a traditional ceremony?
“I have seen people marry without their parent’s consent. The exact moment a marriage is said to have taken place can vary from place to place and country to country,” Eno Adams, from Akwa Ibom State, said in May in a response to a question posed by a PREMIUM TIMES reporter.
“Some might consider it to be when the couple says ‘I do’ or equivalent affirming words, while others might consider it to be when the official pronounces them married, or when the marriage is legally registered. Regardless, the key point is that marriage typically involves a combination of a legal process (obtaining a licence and registering the marriage) and a ceremonial act (the wedding ceremony).”
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