LICENSED ADULTERY IN ESAN CULTURE : INTERROGATING ITS RE-BRANDED FORM (3)
At the concluding part (2) of this reflection series, I deliberately raised some questions that I thought if correctly answered, we will find a better and safer landing spot on the whole matter. In this part, I humbly wish to crave your indulgence to be unusually patient with me as I begin to interrogate what I have chosen to call contextually, “The re-branded form of licensed adultery” in contemporary times.
In retrospect, I have mentioned it earlier that marriage in Esan traditional thought takes different forms. That is, there’s a difference both of a kind and degree. For example, at a time in Esanland, there was an approval for the practice of what could cleverly be regarded today as same- sex marriage. In this case, an economically well to do woman (but without a child of her own), could take a young lady in marriage with the agreement to stay in her house and bear children for her with the help of a man who may not be ‘their’ husband, legally speaking. The said “woman-husband” provides for the up keep of her wife and the children. The compensation for the visiting Servicing Engineer(s), is privately agreed upon with an oath of compliance… On no account will he ever lay claim to the children born in the contract. Contract sealed! This is quite different from the type of same-sex marriage practiced in the Occidental world.
Another is the practice of “Uhamhin” or “Izor” as it is called in some communities in Esan. It is about the seemingly contentious practice of wife inheritance. It was part of the arrangements seriously thought out and put in place to help an ‘Ulin’ (linage) that is at the verge of extinction. It takes either of these ways:
1. If a married man dies and without a child of his own and the wife is still within the age bracket for child bearing, the family owe their late son the responsibility of not allowing his name/genealogy to be wiped out. So, the woman would be approached or appealed to on the need to stay in the family and allow the late husband’s brother (in most cases, younger) fill the space and bear children for the late husband. Such arrangement is usually sealed with oath to the effect that on no account will the “licensed brother” lay claim to the children raised in the late brother’s name. Note that the lady’s family is usually put in the picture.
For those who are Bible students, I want you to recall that the above stated practice was also part of Jewish culture as found in Genesis account. (Gen. 38:1 – end). The name Onan, the second son of Judah was given the mandate to honour the memory of his late elder brother, Er by raising children in his name. The Bible recorded that Onan was displeased with the said mandate of what could be called a liverate marriage. But because it was a traditionally issued Lincense, as it were, he has to obey but not completely. Instead of fulfilling the obligation, Onan pretended to agree with the arrangement. When he “knew” his liverate wife, he would usually spill the semen on the ground so that he would not raise children for the deceased brother as custom demanded of him. His reason may not be far from what you are thinking now. Yes, youuuuu! Onan was capable but not willing to do it. And the Bible says, for this perversion, God killed Onan ooooo! Alimhin at work… However, Onan has to his credit, according to J. A. Onimhawo, and B. O. Igboin, though dubiously, as the pioneer of contraception. Sister, I know you understand this part. Abi?
2. There were also cases where the elders in the family decided to will a wife of a deceased brother to yet another one that is alive, who by their calculations, cannot marry except through such. This is a truism in most Esan communities. They had children and the Ulin was established till date. License plate number still acceptable, you can say.
3. There is also what I may call here, “a waiver” while relying heavily on Snr. Isi’s position and not a license, is when the person to whom the widow is ‘commissioned’ only in name perhaps, because he is a minor. The woman have the approval to play “away match(es)” and even give birth to children in the minor’s name. Are you following me? Here you will see a case of a “father” who may only be older than the “son” with about 4 -7years. You are asking how come? Please, direct your question to the Licensing office.
4. Arebhoa was also a way of making sure that “Ogbe” remains intact. A permissible situation where a daughter is allowed to stay back at home and receives preferred client(s) for the sole purpose of bearing children in the family name, is called, Arebhoa. Such is also licensed to do just that. Yes, I mean that!
5. Was it not also part of Esan culture to lay claim to a child or children given birth to by a woman even after such woman left the husband, may be after an unresolved quarrel? Yes, it was so. The rationale for such is that so long as a woman did not return to the husband’s family the dowrey paid on her, any child or children she had while she was away, are still accepted to be for the first husband to whom she did not pay “his balance”. Don’t laugh oooo. Here, comes the core Philosophy of “Arebun” or “Ubuyemhen” in Esanland.
Remember, we do have such people with us and are whole heartedly accepted too. If you are a properly Esan oriented individual like yours sincerely, I advise you to be careful in the way you deal with them and emulate them. Don’t play unsafely with their ways because, “Usikoko” is not the same thing as “Usimama”. This is strictly for the Esan blooded.
Technology brought for us what looks like an easy way out of solving the problem of infertility in both men and women. The re-branded nature of ISUKHURE (licensed adultery), has its root in the establishment of SPERM BANKING PLC. It is like Blood bank. Let’s begin to think about the “Unseen” in the “Seen”, with the lens of Culture collaborating with Science, vice versa. We will sure get there.
To be continued.
NB. The oven is getting hotter to deliver the fully baked bread… A taste will sure convince you. I pray God favour this project with lovers of our culture, Esan people in retrospect.
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