Okuru Kaka: The Beauty of Traditional Marriage
Let me first confess that this piece is strictly from my lenses and has nothing to do with the historical facts attached to Okuru Kaka. It is simply a narration of a lovely Saturday amongst the Okrika people of Rivers State.
When Oraye St Franklyn, Senior Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on Social Media invited me to his traditional marriage, I was enticed by the term: “Okuru Kaka Marriage Ceremony” written on the card.
I told myself that whatever the tight schedule, I will smuggle myself to Okrika. I wanted to witness the spectacle. Especially as I was informed that it was the final traditional marriage rites amongst the Okrika people. I was further informed that without the Okuru Kaka Marriage Ceremony, the union is not totally complete. Therefore, I wanted to see what made it tick.
As such, I was among the early birds at the venue of the Okuru Kaka Marriage Ceremony of Obele and Oraye St Franklyn.
We parked our car, joined Oraye and friends on a long trek through the narrow roads of Okrika town. We trekked over 20 minutes on these narrow paths. Only motor cycles could meander around.
Finally, we got to the King Ibianichuka Memorial Hall where the traditional negotiations took place. They spoke in Okrika and there was no interpreter. So I just observed.
For the first time, I saw Oraye helpless. He handed his bargaining rights to an elder from the Kalio family. The elder battled another elder from the family of the bride. It was like a football match with so many back and forth. Movements in an out of the hall. The hall was divided into two. Those who came with Oraye on one side and his in-laws on the other side.
At a point, the negotiations got so intense that I thought wahala go blow. Oraye’s spokesman used a crowd pulling technique that charged the atmosphere and got the women on his side shouting several slogans in Okrika. Thereafter, negotiations were fast-tracked.
I noticed that a woman held a traditional list of requirements that Oraye was under obligation to fulfill. Once each item was resolved, she ticked it on the list.
With the traditional marriage rites completed, the elders prayed for the union. I realised that in all, Christianity has also made an inroad. Though the prayer was said in Okrika, I heard the elder mention Jesus more than twice.
At this time, Oraye had been stripped of his beautiful clothes. He was left with a singlet and wrapper. He was also bare-footed.
Bare-footed and armed with his wife, Oraye trekked once again on the streets of Okrika. This time, we passed through wider roads plied by cars. But I was told that the tradition required that he trekked. It was a happy trek which had women singing in joy.
Indeed, the Okuru Kaka Marriage Ceremony highlights the beauty of the ancient culture and tradition of the Okrika people of Rivers State.
To me, it was yet another opportunity to enjoy the diversity of our lovely country. Wherever you go, our people exhibit lovely traditions that are built on love and friendship that encourage negotiation and compromise.
My greatest take away from the Okuru Kaka Marriage Ceremony is that in the end everybody is a winner whenever we allow compromise to prevail. We may shout and negotiate, but if we allow for compromise, everyone goes home happy.
The moment Obele and Oraye stepped out of the negotiating hall, they stepped into a future of love, friendship and God’s blessing.
Written By Simeon Nwakaudu