ERIVWI: The Urhobo Spirit Ancestors Who Kills The Husband When The Wife Commits Adultery
In the tradition of the Urhobo people of Nigeria, it is common to see a man having sex with a woman who is not his wife, provided such woman or girl is not married but it is an abomination or a taboo for a woman to be held by the hand by another man who is not her husband not to talk of having sex with a single man or unmarried man. This act is seen and considered as adultery in the Urhoboland and at such deserves punishment.
Any woman who has sex with any man who is not her husband is regarded to have committed adultery and this is so with many cultures in Nigeria. If such woman caught, she is brought before the elders (Ekpako) of the family and her husband for cross-examination.
The understanding of adultery in Urhoboland is a situation whereby a married woman allows a man who is not her husband to have sex or express sex with her. Although, by tradition a man is never regarded as adulterer in Urhoboland when he cheat on his wife with another woman whom he is not married to and that has no consequences. However, if he has sex or commit adultery with another man’s wife he will be severely punished by the traditions of the land.
In Urhoboland, if a married woman commits adultery or sleep with another man who is not her husband for any reasons be it married or unmarried man; ERIVWI (the spirit of the ancestors) will attack her and even kill her husband and her children. This is one traditional belief that still holds weight till date in the Urhoboland. Although, if the husband is aware and still commit to the wife sexually, or did not bring her to the elders of the family (Ekpako) for spiritual cleansing, purification and prayers, Erivwi (the spirit of the ancestors) will hold the man and kill him.
In some cases if the accused woman denies the allegation of adultery levied against her by an accuser or her husband, she will be asked to prove her innocence by swearing by the gods and the ancestors traditional in front of both family elders as witness. On the other hand, if a woman confesses to have committed adultery, it is also handled by the family elders and in most cases the woman is sent out from the marriage.
In some rare occasions, if the husband of the adulteress wishes to forgive her, she will be asked to go through purification rites which must be conducted by the head of the family to avoid the riot of Erivwi (the spirit of the ancestors). The Urhobo traditions, does not give the right or allow a woman to bring her husband to the elders for discipline if he is caught having sex with an unmarried woman.
However, it seems the gods of the land are also patriarchal because when a man cheats or commit adultery with another woman who is not married or he is not married to, he is free from traditional calamity. One other tradition that hold weight in the Urhoboland, is when a woman who pregnant or newly given birth to a baby, and sleep around with another man who is not the father of the child, be it both married or not, the child will take ill and if she doesn’t confess that might lead to the death of that child.
ERIVWI (spirit of the ancestors) traditional guides the kind of affair a married woman should have with another man and the kind of relationship a married man should have with a married woman who is not his wife.
The Urhobo, cultural group of people are located in the present Delta State of Nigeria, occupying the southern part of the Benin lowland and the floodplains and swamps of the petroleum-rich Niger delta. Their neighbors happen are the Isoko to the Southeast whom they share similar culture and traditions with, the Itsekiri to the West, the Bini to the North, and the Ijaw to the South and the Ukwani to the Northeast.
Thanks for reading this article.