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Owanbe Community

I was very young when my elder sister got married. Before her wedding, I loved her husband-to-be because he usually bought me different goodies as his little father-in-law (like he often call me) whenever he visited our house in the village. We became so close and good pals that I happily told him all that my juvenile mind knew of whenever he asked me things about my sister and our family.

Alas, I was shocked and surprised when I saw another man; a tall, dark and handsome one at that, standing beside my beautiful sister at the altar while they took their marriage oath. And I saw my close pal standing with a smashing smile behind him with another lady standing behind my sister.

Out of disappointment and curiosity to know what happened, I approached my close pal after the wedding ceremony and asked him why he allowed another man to take his wife from him. He laughed hysterically and told me that he was never meant to be the husband, that he was just the “Alarina” and that the man that stood beside my sister was actually the husband-to-be right from time. This was the first time I heard the Yoruba word Alarina, and I became eager to learn about it.

Alarina is a traditional way of wooing whereby a third party individual woos a lady on behalf of another man that showed interest in her, and gathers necessary information about such a lady and her family on his behalf. This tradition is common to the Yoruba culture of southwest Nigeria.

When a man finds a lady that he likes, rather than going to meet her directly as it is the case in modern day, the man finds a person that can help him woo the lady and convince her of his love. After the man makes the choice of whom to marry and informs his family, the family takes it up from there, and look for someone who will act as an Alarina, which is an intermediary or a chaperon.

The Alarina could be a friend of the husband-to-be, an elderly person or any other person. It is assumed that men of those days were shy to approach a lady to profess their love (I don’t know how true sha… lolz). Thus, the Alarina also functions as a messenger of love for the lady and her lover. He may also select locations for their meeting at times and stays around when the two lovers are talking or a little distance when they need privacy.

The Alarina may also perform the role of an Arbitrator by settling disputes and misunderstanding when there is such conflict between the lovers.


Do you feel this approach is better than the modern day wooing approach of the modern man? Let’s hear your opinion on this in the comment section.

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Photo Credit: Emmanuel Oyeleke


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