By Etop  Ekanem

The Okori community, in Eleme, Rivers State recently hosted the entire Eleme community to a delightful display of culture under the aegis of its annual cultural festival/ end of the year celebration.

A group of maidens presented a dance representing the traditional marriage rite of the people of the community during the event.

Okori clan prides itself as the only Eleme clan that has a cultural uniqueness recognised throughout the Eleme Kingdom. For many years, it has been the only clan in Eleme Kingdom that celebrates its traditions at every end of the year.

The annual end of year celebration has always been a day set aside by the Okori people to honour their ancestors and on such a day the Okori family members give food and drinks to their ancestors while the elders make libation and pray for the well-being of the entire people of Okori and other ethnic kindred in Eleme for long life, productivity, good health, wealth, unity, peace and love among the living.

This unique performance is a cultural heritage bequeathed to the entire kindred and it is one of the identification and unifying factors particularly peculiar to the Okori indigenes only. The Eleme ethnic nationality owes allegiance to the Okori kindred for their traditional observations.

The Paramount Ruler of Okori Community, Ogale Clan and Egbere Emere Okori I of Eleme in Rivers State, His Royal Highness (HRH), Chief Appolus Chu, has been on throne since 2005 after his father’s demise and because of his tremendous impact on his community, was made the overall head of the whole Okori community in Eleme early last year.

Chief Appolus Chu on the occasion expressed joy at the large turn-out as well as the cooperation of the people and the honour they have bestowed on him.

He said the celebration was so significant to the Eleme community because it afforded the entire Eleme community the opportunity to come together in oneness, unity and love.

The annual festival, the paramount ruler said, is meant to bring back to the minds of the people the culture and tradition of the land, which have almost faded away and also to appreciate God for His blessings for the whole year.

The annually end of the year festival has taken a new dimension since Chief Chu came to power particularly with the 2010 celebration held on December 28 at the Ogale Central Playground, Eleme, Rivers State, where the 10 tribes in Eleme Kingdom were brought together in one arena to thank God for a year well spent and also to pray for another prosperous year ahead.

The celebration has been on for many years but for the first time since its inception, the whole clans of Eleme came together last year.
Various cultural dance and performances were displayed to the delight of the people. The cultural display also brought back memories of the good old days of the people’s tradition and culture.

A particular group of maidens presented a dance representing the traditional marriage rite of the people where the maidens dance showing off their well-shaped bodies to their in-laws and guests at the ceremony as opposed to the white wedding today, which has eroded the old time tradition.

At the celebration, symbolic gifts like cutlass, lantern and a towel were presented to the paramount ruler for his good work in the community. The cutlass symbolically is meant for him to clear every obstacle on his way as he leads the people aright, while the lantern was to illuminate his path as he rules the community and of course the towel is emblematically meant for him to wipe off his sweat while he labours frantically for the good of the people of the Okori community.

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