Bimbola Daramola, known as Ariya Sussy, is the Chief Executive Officer of Kolbim Services; a United Kingdom based company. She specialises in compere of traditional weddings, make up, event planning, Aso ebi and Gele tying both in the United Kingdom and Nigeria. She spoke to YEJIDE GBENGA-OGUNDARE on the importance of traditional wedding, the beauty, innovations and perceived excesses of wedding comperes (alaga iduro/ijoko). Excerpts:
Foray into alaga business
The trade for me is hereditary, I learnt from my mum who is still in this business. My mum had been doing this business for over 35 years and I have been in it for over 15 years. My mum is the state coordinator of all traditional alagas in Ondo State today
Difference in how it’s done now and before
There are a lot of differences in how traditional weddings are done in the olden days and now especially in the way we handle alaga iduro/ alaga ijoko. There’s a lot of glamour and comic relief to reduce tedium and entertain them. It’s been westernised and polished a bit without really eroding culture though things like ekun iyawo has been abolished. Though the end result is the same, the style makes it more interesting.
Is it a waste of resources like some claim?
Traditional marriage is not a waste of resources. This is what they do back then before they brought the white wedding. For me, the white wedding is the waste of money and the traditional marriage is the important one. It is the important one out of all because this is where you know the parents and family and they accept your spouse and you get parental blessings. If you do a white wedding and do not do a traditional marriage, it is an incomplete marriage. Traditional marriage is a must. It is the acceptable thing in our tradition and one that joins the family. The white wedding is just for glamour and ceremony. I will advice people to do it because it is very important, people should not rely only on the white wedding. You gain a lot from the traditional marriage as a couple. It revolves round the culture, family and all that should be done.
Excesses of alagas
Actually, you are right, we have some of these alagas that are excessive, I am part of them as well but I don’t waste time. I do my job as I’m supposed to but there are some who just want to make money during the programme and they don’t really focus on what they are supposed to do. It happens a lot, I will only advise alagas not to waste too much time, they should just charge their fee and do their job. That’s what I do, I stipulate my fee before I go and once I’m paid, I go to basically do my work. Whatever they give out of their magnanimity during the event is just extra and not mandatory. I believe the money you make on the stage shouldn’t be a priority because we have been paid to do the job not waste people’s time. Alagas should not extort money from people and waste time but showcase their talent and the tradition that is the beauty of the event
There are various innovations in traditional weddings; there are loads of innovations all aimed at passing messages across in a manner that will not bore people. One of these is the art of putting the cap on the groom’s head in a way that is appealing to only her and no other lady as he is not permitted under the culture to come in wearing a cap. This is just a way of telling the bride to know that the husband is the head of the home. Another one is when we bring the wife and husband together after they must have prayed for them, we ask the wife to stand at the back of the groom’s mum while the groom stands at the back of the bride’s mum and we use a scarf to bind them just to tell both parents that they should support the new addition to their family, teach them the way of the Lord and see them as their biological children. Those are innovations and there are loads of them but those two are paramount
Excesses in traditional marriage
There are some excesses that we notice during traditional weddings and basically this is due to the demands from the wives families. Sometimes when they demand too much and the groom can’t afford such, it becomes strenuous and the family complains. This makes it look like traditional marriage is excessive. Also, I will just advice that people do it based on what they can afford, you necessarily don’t need to go and rent a big and expensive hall. I think it should be done in the bride’s father’s compound, if you cannot do it there because it’s not big enough, you don’t have to spend so much money getting a big hall. It is all about family. You don’t have to spend your life savings because you want to do a traditional wedding, it’s the white wedding that is for glamour and the traditional is a serious event basically for the family. Excesses come about when you make traditional wedding glamorous. That’s my opinion.