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Do We Really Need To Ask?

"We went to ask and they heard that they steal too much in their family". 

That's what my friend said when I asked why she hadn't gotten married to someone we'd all thought she would.
     I happen to be in the east and I ran into a number of old friends, some of whom I've not seen in a number of years. The maker of the above statement was one of those. 

So really it got me thinking, how important is this iju ese of a thing?

For those who don't know what I'm talking about, Iju ese means to ask questions. In this context it means to investigate the family and the lineage of the prospective spouse of a person. It's usually done by the older members of the person's family. Some times they search into as far back as five to ten generations of the other family and the idea is to learn more about the family. Specifically to learn if there's anything wrong in the family, if they've got a history of madness, incest, early death etc, to find out if they're outcasts, if any curse has been laid on them, if there's any negative pattern that's been noticed in the family, also to find out if this prospective spouse has been married before or if something has done something on their head etc. 

This is usually one of the first steps when marriage is mentioned before things go further. The family first goes to the person's village to ask questions and continuity depends on the outcome of this investigation. 

I've heard a ton of people say they called off weddings because they heard this or that. Some times the reasons are valid, for instance, the person is still married to someone else. Some times the reasons are very silly, absurd or ridiculous, for instance some of the members are known to steal or there's been serious poverty in the family for years. 

Whatever the reasons I can't help but wonder how necessary this is. Should the history of a person's family play a part in the future of the marriage, and if it does, to what extent?
      Does history always repeat itself; does the fact that a person's ancestor was the village nuisance mean that they or their kids would be similar? I find it rather absurd that after dating someone for several years, questions are asked and it is learnt that a person's grandfather was the village drunk therefore we cannot wed...

In your culture do you have anything like the iju ese tradition? Do you think it's one that's relevant or one that should be dispensed with?

And I get the feeling that I don't completely grasp the whole concept of iju ese, so anyone who can shed more light on it should please do so. 


  1. Older persond in the family usually go about asking questions to ensure they don't let their relative or child into a family with soo musc wahala
    But letting a person's family history affect your relationship of years just sounds absurd to me,I mean there's nothing God's grace won't save us from
    I dnt even know if there's anything like that in my culture but if their it it definitely won't stop me from getting married to the person I want to,as far as I Believe in God
    Its things like this that makes people miss the person God made for them

  2. U are correct T,iju ESE is common in the eastern part of the country, it's done immediately the guy proposes and Has a visible wedding plan in mind,but I noticed that if both parties grew up in lasgidi, such is hardly done but when either of the two parties grow up in the east then iju ese comes in. I believe iju ESES its important, so one doesn't marry an OSU or a from a family known to always carry out a particular sacrifice which would continue forever but nothing weird can stop me from marrying whom I love except my father in heaven doesn't approve,but once GOD approves then whatever issues my future hubby family has is taken care of because the GOD I know would not give you something that would destroy one's destiny.

  3. This is very important. Remember the saying that you marry your spouse and his family. Maybe the family has a history of stealing which has been consistent for generations. Your husband may not be a thief but can you really say about your future kids. I'm sure you have heard the word kleptomania.

    Secondly you have heard about in-laws from hell, Iju ese can save you from such wahala especially the ones that make your life hell when your husband dies. I doubt if I want to marry a family notorious for incest. There are things we close our eyes to in the beginning of our union that comes back to bite us.

    However there are reasons that make no sense which should be overlooked. But generally Iju ese di ezigbo mkpa na njiko nwoke na nwanyi.J

  4. Iju-ese,breaking igbo engagements since the history of the igbo
    This iju-ese is usually carried out,not by the direct family of the intended spouses but thru their Umunna and Umuada's. (those people can't just mind their business).
    Truth is,no matter how religious/spiritual people are,there are still some things they wld always believe in eg,being an Osu (whatever that means)
    What this inquiry people fail to understand is,no matter how much info u get from ur investigation,u can never know anyone completely...

  5. I really think we should not take the iju ese thing lightly cos ts important to our parents and elder family members, I have a friend that when her rship was goin towards marriage, she herself secretly asked questions about the guys family even before bringing the guy home to her parents, she asked my mom to pls help her ask around. I also think its somehow 4 our own good because even the Bible says we should always seek counsel. Besides not everybody in a rship wants to rily end up with the other person if we could actually be honest.

  6. Perhaps, the wisest statement I'v heard from my Dad who doesn't speak much, as regards marriage is - 'Its not so much about where you are coming from as it is about where you are going'

    Let me further preface my stance with the fact that past records or history can not be a definite or guaranteed indicator of future performance. For Example, Your account books (profit and loss account etc) today can not tell you what tomorrow holds for you. A bad performance today doesn't mean tomorrow will always be bad and vice versa.

    Perchance, it is that aspect of our society that always want to believe the future is written somewhere in the stars or in history and thus shirk the responsibility of creating what we want our today to be. We sometimes look for that assurance and re-assurance from some past happenings rather than working with today's realities and the power of one's will.

    While, I don't discount the need for families of the intending couple getting to know each other, I strongly feel the inquiries into cases of incest, stealing and the likes etc are uncalled for. The character of your spouse should tell a lot of his/her upbringing and family.

    Worst of all, there isn't any defined institution or procedures to be taken for this 'search', leaving the outcome to be based on a part of the searcher's sentiments. The truth with life is that whatever one is looking for, one would surely find, so looking for flaws where there isn't necessarily one would definitely create one or more flaws.

    Yes, it should be dispensed with. (I ain't Igbo so don't know about 'Iju ese'. I'm Yoruba and I know some form of 'Iju ese' is carried out but I'm not certain of its name and I doubt it is institutionalized.

    P.S. - I believe that Christianity cleanses all sins whether family's or personal. 2 Cor. 5:17. Hence I tend to deal much with the current as against the past.

  7. As for Me, as long as there's no medical history in My Future DH's family that could affect our kids negatively, I wont listen to anything else given that we both share the same faith!
    Everything else take a back seat...

  8. Oga Chris... welcome back! iv missed your long and insightful comments... but I have to say I totally disagree with you on this one! I don't even want to start on 2Corint 5 v 17 and how people have totally misunderstood that verse. The fact that you're now in Christ doesn't totally wipe out the "consequences" of the things you did outside him. It doesn't automatically erase it. There are things you still have to really pray about... I say pray because lots of people here probably don't believe in deliverance or the existence of spiritual forces. which is fine... to each his own.

    To the post.... Yes there's something like Iju ese in my culture(i'm a Yoruba girl in case u are wondering... lol!) I remember when I was in secondary school(years ago!!! Lmao!) they taught us about (yoruba) traditional marriage and steps taken before the marriage rites are performed. I remember one of them was to inquire about the families. Both families would do that. And I also know that back in the day, parents would ask your name and your "agbole"(the compound) you come from. Which would guide them in their investigations and I think it helped a lot then. Now, let's not deceive ourselves. Is not every family you can marry into. I'm sure some women would wish they did "iju ese" before getting married which would have saved them from whatever hassles they are going through now. These days, like someone rightly pointed out, most people are born and bred in lagos. Even our parents. So such investigations are close to impossible. That is why it is really IMPORTANT to seek God's face before you get married. You carry out such investigations on your knees. And yeah... it matters. It is very very Relevant. Trust me! This is Africa. We probably don't do health background checks to see diseases that run in the family(Alzheimer's et al) or what we call genetic diseases. Compatibility tests and so on. This is our own little way of doing those things.(i think). That was their(our forefathers) way of checking those things in the past. And theirs ran even deeper. Poverty, spiritual problems and what have you(in ambode's voice... lol! sorry.. I had to say that. Heheheee)

    There are families you really do not want to marry into like I said earlier... and if such "investigation" is done before marriage... it'll save you a lot of headaches in the future. Information is power... because even if you decide to go ahead, you know what you're dealing with and how to deal with it. I can't say more than that.

  9. @ Kabuoy

    Thanks for the welcome, although I never really left.

    I could concede on Medical History, the need for 'iju ese', but then again I don't know of any scientific or defined logical process done before a proposed marriage that attempts to find out prevailing illnesses in a particular family one intends to marry into (this doesn't include the regular pregnancy check up, genotype etc usually done). A good amount of hospitals don't even keep useful medical records for families that could be used to infer a certain illness, genetics or hereditary issues.

    On 2 Cor. 5:17, I tend to deal with the true meaning of bible passages rather than warped and twisted theories people tend to infer for their self-serving interests. In my own reasoning, if one finds a true christian as a proposed spouse, such christian is free from the condemnation of all prior family acts like family covenants etc (Rom. 8:1-2). It is a matter of belief. Perhaps you could enlighten me on your reservations?

    Also, what's your intepretation of 'consequences'? Isn't Christ's death a sufficient atonement for our (yours, I and every other person's) sins. His triumphant resurrection gives us access to Him and His entirety. This is alluded several times in the Bible and is fundamentally the foundation of the new covenant/testament. I feel you share a different viewpoint and would be willing to learn of yours'.

    As a Christian, I shouldn't and cannot discount the place of God in my decisions talk less of a major decision as choosing a spouse. This view I share with you.

    While I still don't trivialize the need for families to meet, get to know each other and also find out compatibility issues, I fear that since there isn't any defined credible means for undertaking the 'iju ese', one would definitely find a flaw or problem where nothing cogent exists.

    Yes, I wouldn't want to marry into some families, but also I strongly feel, the 'iju ese' route being described isn't the right tool to predict which family I should or shouldn't marry into.

    1. I agree with kabouy on this,someone can b in Christ and still have some issues from his or lineage affecting them,giving ur life to Christ n being dead to sin and works of the flesh without certain steps of deliverance from certain issues you know u have doesn't make one free from such issues.

    2. Well, like you said - 'certain steps of deliverance'. This deliverance let me say can be carried out by self or some true shepherd of Christ, although I believe most of the deliverance has been carried out when one accepts Jesus as personal Lord and Saviour.

      For example, say a family a has an issue with stealing (kleptomaniac) and the proposed spouse is already a delivered Christian, what stance do you think the 'Iju ese' would adopt? Your guess is as good as mine

    3. His giving his life to Christ n being delivered by Christ alone (without the proper way of going about the deliverance)does DAT mean the stealing will not come to play out in his life later?

  10. Lol,i think it's time I sit back and read comments. Kabuoy and Chisyinks,pls dont disappoint me o. I didn't "disappoint" in the politics talk..lolz

  11. Uncle Chris... you said "This deliverance let me say can be carried out by self or some true shepherd of Christ, although I believe most of the deliverance has been carried out when one accepts Jesus as personal Lord and Saviour".. this "belief" is the mistake a lot of christians make. To think that professing Christ as your Lord and personal Savior is all the deliverance you need is why some mysterious things happen to christians and they just don't understand why. It still remains a mystery to them. Believe it or not, being a Christian gives you power to exercise the authority you have in Christ. You have to understand this and then USE it. For me, professing Christ is just a step in the right direction. There are still major steps to take like deliverance(personal or by a true shepherd of Christ) working out your salvation with fear and trembling, living a holy life through God's grace... and so on and so forth(lol).

    Now, to your question. I think that whatever findings one gets from the iju ese exercise shouldn't necessarily change your decision about someone "especially" if you two are saved. Most of the time, it helps to know those things to help channel your prayers in the right direction. That's why I said in my earlier comment that one should seek the face of the Lord before entering into marriage. That way, you are not spiritually blind or deaf, and you're prepared. This cannot be overemphasized.


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