The real story of Kayanmata: The heart of a Northern Nigerian wedding

What goes on behind the scenes of a Northern Nigerian wedding? I was privy to one when my dear friend was preparing for her wedding. I found myself immersed in a captivating world of traditions and rituals; despite living in the North for nearly a decade, this was my first time experiencing a wedding in this unique cultural setting.

As her mother unveiled an array of herbs and oils, she explained that these were Kayanmata. I was intrigued because I had only heard wild stories about people using Kayanmata being mystical potions for seduction. But at that moment, I learnt of this time-honoured practice meant to enhance natural beauty and intimacy in marriage.


kanuri wedding💃💃

♬ original sound – gidan biki 👰💃💃💃🎑


Big H photography via Instagram

This immersive experience opened my eyes to the rich culture of Northern Nigerian heritage and the profound significance of Kayanmata in women’s lives. It wasn’t just about looking beautiful on the outside; it was about embracing one’s femininity, celebrating intimacy, and honouring cultural traditions that had stood the test of time.


Beautiful kanuri bride and culture masha Allah 😍❤️ #northernhypelady #hypeladybusiness #hypeladywedding #hypelady #northernhypeladyweddings

♬ original sound – Hype lady

Myths and misconceptions of Kayanmata

Kayanmata is often shrouded in myths, the most prevalent of which is the belief that it involves mystical potions designed to control or seduce others. This sensationalised view distorts the true essence of Kayanmata, which is deeply rooted in cultural and traditional practices aimed at enhancing a woman’s beauty, confidence, and intimacy in marriage.

Arewa secret via Instagram

One of the main sources of these myths is the rise of social media, particularly Instagram vendors, who market Kayanmata products with exaggerated claims. These vendors often promise miraculous results, such as instantly attracting a partner or gaining control over someone’s emotions, which feeds into the misconception that Kayanmata is some sort of magical solution for relationship issues. This portrayal can be highly misleading and undermine the authentic cultural practices that generations have  passed down through generations However, among the bad eggs, there are still good vendors, like Zeybar, who promote wellness and present Kayanmata as it truly is, focusing on its genuine benefits for beauty, confidence, and marital harmony.

Zeybar via Instagram

Historically, people use Kayanmata for much more grounded and meaningful purposes. In traditional Northern Nigerian communities, Kayanmata products were prepared using natural ingredients like herbs, roots, and oils. These ingredients were selected for their ability to promote physical wellness, enhance beauty, and support marital harmony. The idea was never about manipulating others, but about empowering women through self-care and natural remedies.

JarumaEmpire via Instagram

The myth of Kayanmata as a mystical seduction tool likely emerged from a combination of ignorance and commercialisation. As these traditional practices entered the mainstream market, their portrayal shifted to cater to sensationalist narratives. The commercialisation has led to a flood of products with dubious efficacy, often marketed with bold and misleading claims.

To truly understand Kayanmata, it’s essential to separate these myths from the reality of its cultural significance. Kayanmata is about celebrating femininity, enhancing personal well-being, and preserving the rich heritage of Northern Nigerian traditions. It involves practices and products that are deeply intertwined with the community’s social fabric, aimed at fostering intimate and trusting relationships rather than manipulating them.

The real Kayanmata: Simple facts

Kayanmata translates to “women’s things,” encompassing a variety of traditional beauty and love-enhancing products and practices. This cultural and social tradition may have evolved over centuries but still retains its core significance.

Traditional uses in marital relationships

Traditional uses of Kayanmata in marital relationships involve specific practices aimed at preparing brides-to-be and enhancing marital intimacy:

  • Marriage preparation:
Image via Naijanation

Before marriage, brides-to-be undergo beauty treatments using Kayanmata products. These treatments typically include herbal mixtures, oils, and other natural ingredients known for their skin-nourishing and beautifying properties. For example, shea butter and Argan oil are used to moisturise and soften the skin, while exfoliating scrubs made from natural ingredients detoxify and rejuvenate the skin. These treatments are not only about enhancing physical appearance but also about preparing the bride emotionally and mentally for married life.

  • Marital intimacy:
Image credit: Sadid Khalil

Kayanmata includes aphrodisiac herbs and oils that are believed to enhance sexual desire and intimacy between partners. For instance, herbs like Goron Tula are known for their aphrodisiac properties, boosting libido and enhancing sexual health. These herbs and oils are incorporated into rituals or applied directly to the body as part of preparations for intimate moments. The belief is that these natural ingredients not only stimulate physical sensations, but also deepen the emotional and spiritual connection between spouses, thereby strengthening the marital bond.

Key components of Kayanmata

Image via Etsy
  1. Herbal mixtures: Goron Tula: Known for its aphrodisiac properties, it boosts libido and enhances sexual health.
  2. Oils and creams: Shea Butter and Argan Oil: Used to moisturise and soften the skin, promoting a youthful and radiant appearance.
  3. Beauty treatments: Exfoliating scrubs and body wrap: Made from natural ingredients to detoxify and rejuvenate the skin.

Societal and cultural importance

Kayanmata is more than just beauty practices; it is an integral part of Northern Nigerian cultural heritage. These practices foster a sense of community among women who share knowledge and experiences, reinforcing social bonds and cultural identity. Historical accounts, like the writings of British explorer Richard Lander in the 1830s, reference similar traditional practices, highlighting the long-standing nature of Kayanmata within the society. Oral histories also recount these practices in royal courts, where queens and noblewomen used Kayanmata to maintain their beauty and allure.

By demystifying Kayanmata and embracing its essence, we uncover the cultural practices deeply rooted in Northern Nigerian heritage. This goes beyond mere beauty rituals; it illuminates traditions passed down through generations, highlighting the wisdom and resilience of Northern Nigerian women. Kayanmata reveals its secrets—natural ingredients carefully selected to enhance beauty, promote confidence, and enrich marital intimacy. In doing so, we honour these traditions as a testament to the enduring power of cultural heritage in shaping our lives.


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