Sunday, 6 March 2022


In times predating foreign beliefs, the Igbo communities frowned at unauthorized fornication (sex amongst unmarried people) and had well-spelt punishments for offenders. While the male culprit was humiliated by public flogging on his bare buttocks, the female counterpart was taken around the market square in humiliation. Mostly, evidence of fornication was pregnancy. When that happens, either the girl delivers at home or mkpuke or is married out under a special transaction modus.
Some men who had married without children are allowed to bid and take the offending girl's hands in marriage. The bride price and other payments were heavily discounted. But when the boy's parents agreed to settle the bride price and take the girl home quickly, it would be seen as a mistake, and everybody moved on. But Nnewi people usually do not give out a pregnant girl in marriage, although some now do.
However, what is today known to Igbos as adultery was permissible in a form in Igbo land. A married man was allowed to have an "enyi nwanyi" or"agịrị" or "iko" who were also happily married women. Every wife knew her husband's agịrị and did not disturb when she visited her home, the home of her man friend or agịrị. They could even have sex on such visits.
A man could confidently visit his woman friend at her husband's house without any fear of being embarrassed. Then, a man would dutifully buy two sets of clothing and other ornaments for his wife and his agịrị. The man friend automatically would become the economic back-up to her married woman friend.
In Igboland, the birth father of any child is the one who paid the child's mother's bride price, so a child is owned by the husband of the child's mother, not her manfriend. The men who resisted and prevented their wives from having agịrị were dubbed "obe akwa nwanyi", meaning an overly possessive man.
Some women preferred to be iko di ha meaning "a wife who doubles as the woman friend of her husband," precisely what my wife, Uche, has been practising. Hence, it is not wrong to refer to her even derisively as "Iko Anayo." A woman that had an iko never lacked supplies or suffered loneliness at widowhood. It served the communities well.
Then the whiteman came with a religion that criminalized this culture. He called it "ị kwa iko" or adultery. They found allies in some selfish people, especially those that married beautiful women and the wives of wealthy men who did not want to share. To make matters worse, the colonial masters also enacted laws to ensure that this culture was killed. It was deemed stealing of sex or ohi ọtụ.
Our people's reaction to this brazen conspiracy was polygamy which wealthy merchants and big farmers hitherto practised. After all, nobody can criminalise a sexual act with one's wives. Still, the whiteman insisted that there can only be one plug to one socket. That was how the Igbos were forced to learn of another type of sin called adultery.

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