“It was only this morning,” said Obierika, “that Okonkwo and I were talking about Abame and Aninta, where titled men climb trees and pound foo-foo for their wives.”
“All their customs are upside-down. They do not decide bride-price as we do, with sticks. They haggle and bargain as if they were buying a goat or a cow in the market.”
“That is very bad,” said Obierika’s eldest brother. “But what is good in one place is bad in another place. In Umunso they do not bargain at all, not even with broomsticks. The suitor just goes on bringing bags of cowries until his in-laws tell him to stop. It is a bad custom because it always lead to a quarrel.”
“The world is large,” said Okonkwo. “I have even heard that in some tribes a man’s children belong to his wife and her family.”
“That cannot be,” said Machi. “You might as well say that the woman lies on top of the man when they are making the children.”
Obierika then presented to him a small bundle of short broomsticks. Ukegbu counted them.
“They are thirty?” he asked.
Obierika nodded in agreement.
“We are at last getting somewhere,” Ukegbu said, and then turning to his brother and his song he said: ‘Let us go out and whisper together.’ The three rose and went outside. When they returned Ukegbu handed the bundle of sticks back to Obierika. He counted them; instead of thirty there were only fifteen. He passed them over to his eldest brother, Machi, who also counted them and said:
“We had not thought to go below thirty. But as the dog said, ‘If I fall down for you and you fall down for me, it is play’. Marriage should be a play and not a fight; so we are falling down again.” He then added ten sticks to the fifteen and gave the bundle to Ukegbu.
In this way Akueke’s bride-price was finally settled at twenty bags of cowries.
As he was speaking the boy returned, followed by Akueke, his half-sister, carrying a wooden dish with three kola nuts and alligator pepper. She gave the dish to her father’s eldest brother and then shook hands, very shyly, with her suitor and his relatives. She was about sixteen and just ripe for marriage. Her suitor and his relatives surveyed her young body with expert eyes as if to assure themselves that she was beautiful and ripe.
She wore a coiffure which was done up into a crest in the middle of the head. Cam wood was rubbed lightly into her skin, and all over her body were black patterns drawn with uli. She wore a black necklace which hung down in three coils just above her full, succulent breasts. On her arms were red and yellow bangles, and on her waist four or five rows of jigida, or waist beads.
“It was always said that Ndulue and Ozoemena had one mind,” said Obierika. “I remember when I was a young boy there was a song about them. He could not do anything without telling her.”
“I did not know that,” said Okonkwo. “I thought he was a strong man in his youth.”
“He was indeed,” said Ofoedu.
Okonkwo shook his head doubtfully.
Hope that’s enough to make you enjoy the whole book. Download it from my drive using this link.