Dr. Ibe Ifedigbo summoned his four daughters one fateful Sunday afternoon for an emergency meeting. His wife was also in attendance. He was troubled. "I came to Lagos to eke out a living not to lose my daughters to strangers", he murmured to himself before his daughters converged in the living room. He had been ruminating on how best to effectively pass on his message to his lovely daughters without appearing discriminatory or as an ethnic bigot. He shouldn't be seen as a tribalist because he was also a pastor in a pentecostal church in Surulere. His congregation was multi-ethnic and he had always preached equal love to Jews and Gentiles alike but not in traditional matters. He trained in England but he came back to marry his town's woman in fulfillment of a promise he made to his mother on her death bed. "My daughters, it is my wish that you marry from Nnewi or any nearby town because of many advantages which include cultural homogeneity, commonality of values system and proximity in case there is, and there are must always be needs for, inlaws' visitation either for good or bad occasions", he managed to say. "My admonition to you is supported by Deuteronomy chapter 7 verse 3 whereas God told the Israelites to marry only from their tribe", he said. "Just note that I will not give any of you away in marriage unless the suitor is Igbo," he thundered and declared the meeting over. His wife, Ikodiya was nodding all through her husband's speech betraying her pre-knowledge of the sole agenda of the meeting better referred to as briefing that just ended in a military fashion. It's now clear to Ogbenyeanu, the first daughter of the house, the reason why her father refused to approve of her marriage to Olajide. The father warned her to stop seeing Olaitan; and later one Olabosun as he was not ready to converse with a son-in-law in English. What an impossible criterion! Dr. Ifedigbo didn't also fancy the "Ola" prefixes on the names of his daughter's suitors. Even though he had been told that "Ola" meant "wealth" in Yoruba but the Igbo meaning made him crazy. He also wondered why his daughter would always bring home the "Olas". "But my daughter is not a nymphomaniac as she was well brought up; I won't allow them to kill her in bed for me", he promised himself. Dr. Ifedigbo's agony is self-inflicted. He was aware of how his own mother got married to his father, a story he so proudly told his friends and children but he never did anything to change things in such a way that he could realize his own dreams of seeing his daughters "marry home". Many surviving Nnewi elders also could remember Dr. Ifedigbo's mother's story too well. In the then rural and orderly communities in Nnewi, the elders had perfected platforms and arrangements that afforded parents to parade their marriage ripe female children for the entire menfolk and eagle-eyed mothers-inlaw to see and make choices of spouses for themselves and their sons. The platforms included but not limited to organized or disorderly arranged parades of young men and women during Afiaolu, Ikwuahu, Ibuputa Egwu, Igbankwu ceremonies etc. No other market for the exhibition or parade of marriageable youths existed other than these except referrals from friends and relations. Very notable was the annual maiden dance of all the young girls in various communities at the local communities' market squares. Parents would adorn their young girls with àká and ùfió and pieces of clothes firmly covering their breasts and waist areas. The ladies danced in groups and the event was a well contested competition and winners were announced. Almost all the participants were married off few months after the dancing parades . Efforts were also made to stagger the dance dates to ensure that different communities did not hold their dance competitions on the same day, to give room for greater town-wide spectators attendance. It then happened that in 1935, Miss Ugegbemma Anazodo leading the dancing troop from Okpuno Otolo Nnewi was so much a delight to watch not for her bewitching beauty but the way she twisted her waist and breasts to the high octane beats of the drummers. The applause and thrills of the spectators made the traders at the Eke Ogwugwu market Otolo to close and head towards the venue of the dancing event. For causing the whole Eke Ogwugwu market to close abruptly and to come watch her dance, Dr. Ifedigbo's mother, Ugegbemma (meaning the beauty's mirror) was instantly renamed Ogbajili Eke meaning the "one who caused Eke market to close abruptly". Mazi Ifedigbo, he himself the wrestling champion who hailed from Nnewichi village, Nnewi was in the crowd watching Ugegbemma mesmerizing her audience. Ifedigbo was hit by a Cupid arrow and he resolved there and then to do anything possible to marry the charming Ugegbemma. He succeeded in beating a score of confident suitors to achieve his plan. He was also an every lady's dream husband. One of the products of that marriage was Dr. Ibe Ifedigbo. The Igbo elite, the churches and globalization have combined to deal a deadly blow on many aspects of our lives especially the destruction of our marriage marketing platforms. All the marriageable youths exposition platforms are practically nonexistent as at today. How can we destroy an order without a replacement and still expect unearned outcomes? It's madness. If we desire to have our children "marry near or home", we should create modern platforms that provide for meeting of our marriage ripe boys and girls from our towns. The parents should form or should join their town union meetings, modernize them and reorganize their annual end of the year parties to include: - March past of all nuclear families; this will attach each marriageable youth to parents to make background checks easier. - Beauty parades of all maidens, village by village - Dancing competition by age groupings - Awards to B.Sc graduates with First Class grades, Distinction in MSc and PhD graduands; some suitors look out for brilliance - March past of all unmarried males in traditional attires - Mixed sexed Football games - Debates on Cultural Issues, etc. These get-together platforms should be well advertised in the print and electronic media and all heads of other town union meetings and their members should be encouraged to attend. Also, the program of the Afiaolu or New Yam festivals should be twicked to allow for carnival-like processions. A fixed date in the year should be reserved and advertised as for the festivals to enable even those in diaspora to attend. The practice of the unmarried maidens of the family accompanying the bride during the traditional marriages or Igba Nkwu should be sustained and made compulsory for girls in the extended families of the bride. The truth is that you don't marry someone you have not met or recommended to. Marriage is a physical matter first before being spiritual. Don't be deceived. Unless the Igbo elite circumspectively recreate or reinvent new platforms for meetings of our marriage ripe children, we should make do with inlaws from other tribes, cultures, religions who our children meet or get to know in their non cultural social circles. The current pain of Dr. Ifedigbo and his likes is the natural consequence of doing nothing. Story by Anayo Nwosu.