by Bayo



Inter-tribal (inter-cultural, inter-racial) marriage is the kind of marriage relationship that occurs between people from different tribes, culture, nations, countries or races. This can be a marital relationship between an Ibo man (south east Nigeria) and a Yoruba woman (south west Nigeria) or a marriage between a Nigerian and an American.



Inter-tribal or inter-racial marriages have their own challenges, peculiar to them. We need to understand them to be able to make the most of these kinds of marriages.

  • Differences in Culture. Cultures are different from tribe to tribe, what some tribes sees as norm is a taboo to others. The way of greeting, talking, addressing elders, wedding, naming ceremonies, burial, etc are different. This can cause serious problems to couple especially young ones or old one who are rigid and not ready to understand with each other.
  • Differences in Food. Food are also different, people are known to disdain food from other cultures and tribes.
  • Differences in Languages. This is one of the major problems in inter-tribal marriages as couple may have to communicate to each other; using a third language which may be their lingua franca. A language that is not the mother language of any of them. This do pose serious problems when family members of any of the couple are around and they begin to speak their language which the partner do not understand, he/she will feel lost, may even be thinking they are playing evil against him/her.
  • Differences in Beliefs and custom. Each tribe has what they belief, which other tribes may not support or even hate.
  • Different festivals and anniversaries. Each culture also has different kind of festivals and ceremonies which other tribes may not be positively dispose to.
  • Differences in mode of dressing. Each tribe has the way they dress which is peculiar to their own tribe, which may not be what other tribe likes.
  • Old Inter-tribal hatred. Most tribes have deep rooted hatred for other tribes. They disdain their food, culture, dressing, language, etc. almost everybody belief his or her tribe is the best thereby disdain other tribes. Some tribes’ hatred even date back to years because of wars fought between the tribes in the ancient time.
  • Differences in religion. Some tribes are known with some religions even if both people in marriage are Christian; their family members are still in those religions and they will definitely have their own input on the marriage.


If you are going into an inter-tribal marriage or you are already in it, you need to study these deeply and make good use of them to better your marriage.


  • Study the Culture of your Spouse. You need to take your time to study the culture of the person you are about to marry perfectly before you go into marriage. The following must be study carefully.


  • Their food
  • Mode of greetings
  • Lifestyles
  • Mode of dressing
  • Mode of celebration
  • Music
  • Custom
  • Taboos
  • Background
  • Names
  • History
  • In-law’s relationship.
  • Mode of worship
  • Wedding ceremonies
  • Extended family system
  • Husband/wife responsibilities in marriage
  • Strength and weaknesses
  • Parenting system.
  • Father/mother responsibilities
  • Child rearing system
  • Child naming system
  • Rules and regulations, etc.

You need to take your time to study all these before your wedding. You can carry out your own study in the following ways:

  • Read books about the tribe
  • Visit the place
  • Move closer to people of that tribe in your environment
  • Ask questions from your spouse or spouse to-be
  • Get into the internet to learn about that tribe.
  • Ask question from people.


  • Pray about it. Ask God for wisdom to handle the differences in tribes, ask for patience, wisdom, humility and grace to build a successful home despite the differences.
  • Marry his or her Culture. If your inter-tribal marriage must be alright, don’t just marry your spouse, please, marry the culture. Fall in love with the culture, accept it, never go against it. Never speak wrongly about people from that tribe, see them as the best people in the world; because they produce your spouse.
  • Never think your tribe is the best. No tribe is the best, only God is the best. So stop the childish thinking that your tribe is the best and every other tribe are bad.
  • Eat the food. Don’t just eat the food from your tribe; learn how to eat the food from the tribe of your spouse. Wives must learn how to cook the food from your husband’s tribe. The way they normally cook it if you must enjoy a good relationship with your spouse.
  • Be patience with each other. Since you are coming from two totally different backgrounds, please be patience with each other as God is working on you to understand and love each other.
  • Learn the language. You will do your marriage a great deal of favour if you try to learn the language of your spouse, at least learn the one they use for greetings, it will help your marriage.
  • Accept the tribe. Accept everything about your spouse’s tribe. Say it and show it to your spouse.
  • Let your children enjoy both cultures. A pastor friend of mine, a Yoruba man, got married to an Ibo woman, they had two children, the first child was given a Yoruba name while the second child was given an Ibo name; this is good. In their house, they cook Yoruba and Ibo food. They dress like Ibo and Yoruba, no wonder they are enjoying blissful marriage despite being from different tribes.
  • Let there be adjustment. You will need to adjust to fit in into your spouse’s culture, food, lifestyle, etc while your spouse too make effort to adjust without been forced.
  • Communicate effectively. Effective communication is needed in inter-tribal marriage. Talk, talk and talk. Please talk deeply about your cultures, explain to each other what things means. Open up to each other, talk to each other, don’t talk at each other. Effective communication will help you to understand the tribe of your spouse inside-out.


Pastor Bisi Adewale is a family and relationship expert; author of Secrets of  an Irresistible Wife and more than 70 other books on marriage and family life. You can reach him on familybooster@gmail.com, 08068312004, 08051512823, www.familybooster.com  facebook.com/Pastorbisiadewale  

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