Marriage among the Igbo of Nigeria By :Celestine A. Obi

 iii) Nwunye Nkuchi

Nwunye Nkuchi which means an inherited wife or a wife taken in another’s stead. Basden testifies that this was widely practised in Awka Province. A man by this practice takes over his dead father’s wife or dead brother’s wife where there is no heir, or male issue or if the heir is a minor. This depends on the will of the woman, her age and the man’s ability to maintain her. Her previous marriage was not terminated by the death of her husband. it now continues with this heir who has inherited her . Apart from this “lecriratic” marriage, Arthur Phillips describes another type which he called ‘Ghost marriage’.

It consists in a woman being married to the name of a man who died unmarried so that his line need not die out. Consequently, children born of this marriage should bear the name of this unmarried dead man. Philips says that this is encountered in East and Central Africa.

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