Picture Abisi Girl in Her Room
Love, Elopement and Third husband
The second Abisi marriage is called /isus kiso/, love marriage.
Kiso refers to a love relation leading to a personal choice marriage.
The third marriage the House or /tiyikirat/ is a disappointed kiso lover who becomes the girl’s third husband.
What a better way to introduce the love sentiment of young people than a love song?
Sang by older women, this love song recalls their popularity among boys and as a subject of desire, the courtship they got before choosing their love one.
Kiso is definitely a romantic relation.
Choosing the /kiso/ Husband
These “love marriages” are the most talked about and praised by boys and girls alike.
Girls like it because they freely choose their suitors and boys because they can vie with one another and thus show their power.
Meeting a girl or a boy on their own term is not as easy as it seems.
There are some public places where they can see or talk together: the markets, public ceremonies, spontaneous encounters on a path or during work groups. Friends and family networks also provide some information about potential consorts.
Mutual interest must coincide with all the marriages rules like prohibition, age , kinship ties or marital status. Is he or she of the same section , a cousin or promised to a patriline brother… To untangle these situations, young men explore all relevant information available from people they know.
For boys, it seems that their personal criteria are not her parent’s material situation nor her size but some facial traits are more attractive than others. In fact, her personal reputation of respectability and decency is most important.
They do not necessarily look for a hard working girl reputation because they believe all Abisi girls are apt to do what they have too.
Some boys assimilating Hausa or Christian ways look for girls who wear these people’s type of dress when they can find one.
Since many boys may solicit the same girl, the competition is hard and medicine can be used and put in the girl’s food to give her a bad smell that will discourage other suitors…
Girls are courted simultaneously by three or four boys for two to four years when they finally choose their kiso spouse among them.
This choice is relatively complex because even if they have the right to pick someone according to their own personal preferences and criteria, they are influenced by other people and the suitor’s pressures.
Some member of her family may use gossip to disqualify other boys and influence the girl’s choice. If they do not want her to marry a foreigner, a Rukuba for example, they will tell her he will make her eat dog which is horrible to Abisi. However, professor Muller told me that only uja section and some kikala do it but not other Rukuba and those women do not eat this meat.
Some others are said to eat horses or donkeys to the same purpose. Ribam are said to be sorcerers and others are said to live so far that she will never be able to visit her family anymore.
A brother who has eyes on a particular girl will try to influence his sister to marry in the same locality, hoping that reciprocal customs will favor him.
They can also try to get her to ignore an Abisi boy saying: “will he be able to feed you?” If he is not a farmer, they will say that he is lazy as are disregarded people who work outside this profession.
If he is known to go to the city, they ask: “for what, run around…?”
Surely, a girl is conscious of the material aspect of her marriage and she is concerned by the farming capacity of her suitor. She can learn about this from friends who sang or attended to collective work groups where a hoer’s reputation is under scrutiny. Other criteria are also important.
Courtship implies a lot of “small talk” when the boys are visiting.
In the evening, after the day’s work, a young man may come to the house and ask to meet the girl. He is invited to sit beside her in front of the fire. They spend a few hours chatting.
The boy must “give dash all the time” or he may bring various gifts like a piece of clothes or combs.
But it is by helping her parents doing all kind of task that he will be more appreciated:
“parents try to impose their preferences for kiso who gave them the most help”.
If another boy arrives at that moment, he will see the other boy’s walking stick near the door and understand that someone is with her. He knows he has to come back some other time.
In spite of all these pressures, a girl still can make her own choice and maintains a romantic view of her relation with the boy she desires most.
In the end, each courting boy brings a goat to her house.
Her father then asks her
“Which goat do you prefer?”She answers“I like this goat” thus choosing her preferred one.
Parents keep the goat and send the others away as a refusal.
It∫umak : Elopement of Lovers
If the relationship between kiso is strong enough, the couple can run away together during the few weeks or months before the riner wedding. It is considered a rapt (it∫umak: snatch).
About 25 percent of Abisi women had agreed to elope with their kiso.
During their /iisak/, love talking, kiso boys and girls set the eloping moment.
The boy comes to her house with some friends that hide outside in the back of the house.
He goes in and asks her parents to talk with her as usual and he tells her about his plan. If she hesitates , he may tell her “Do not cry or I will them your parents it was your idea; you will be ashamed not me…” but even then, the girl may postpone it if she wishes.
To elope, they run away silently, the girl being carried part of the way…they can spend the next few weeks hidden at a friend’s house but if the parents find them they take their get daughter back home.
If possible, the couple may try to elope again and if they can hide for a few months, they will only go back to visit her parents to arrange the girl’s obligation toward her Riner husband. After staying 8 months or a year with him, the woman can go back to her Kiso’s house.
In the past, the Riner did not worry too much about elopement because he was sure the girl would come back to his house but in 1973, some riner asked for the return of the bride wealth already given.
In one case, three boys, one Ekantin, one Giribom and one Igallik, were rival Kisos. The girl’s parent preferred the Ekantin boy but the Igallik eloped with her.
The parents were so mad that they went to their section chief Sarkin Dutse to sue him and since they couldn’t settle the matter there, they went to see Sarkin Piti for an official settlement.
The uyirariner also counted the value of his work and of his friend’s contributions. For example, each day of work was worth 3-4 Pounds for each year. He also counts the bundles of grains to be refunded…
Women are required to stay a minimum of a month with her second husband, but most stay far longer. About a quarter of women stayed with their “love husbands” for a year, another quarter remains for two years and a full fifth for more than three years.
Only around 10 percent stayed for less than a month.
Kiso Services and Wealth Exchanges
Kiso marriages also bring multiple economic exchanges from the man’s side to the woman’s family.
Her father gets the kiso chosen goat and another one called /iwune ilali ibozo/ plus a hoe or 4-5 Pounds.
Her mother also gets a goat and so do the /Udↄrↄ/ , the go-between.
During each of the four years of courtship, the girl’s mother also gets 2 bundled of guinea-corn and a /tikapasa/ a yearly hoeing of her field by the kiso and two three of his friends.
She also gets the/ isuni/, a beans and an acha basket. At the end, when the women changed residence from the riner to the kiso’s house, a large workgroup similar but smaller to the riner workgroup, hoe some of the father’s fields.
Isus tiyikirat, means “marriage of those of the house” because the husband is chosen by the mother of the girl among rejected kiso suitors.
The man himself asks her if she wants to choose him and if she accepts, he pays the father 2 hoes and a goat or, in 1973, 3 Pounds to officialese the marriage.
The girl’s parents may also prefer another young man “who came late” if they wish, provided that he comes from the right section where she is not married.
In 1973, much of the pressures for the choice of kiso resulted from the civil abolition of the third marriage, the tiyikirat.
Before, a girl’s choice was more open because a rejected kiso boys to become her tiyikirat.
This third marriage could be imposed by the girl’s mother unless her daughter had a special repulsion about him. But now, he may prefer to court one of her available younger sisters.