This is what they call the Iraa final look (pictures are from the recent Wakirike cultural display at the Rivers State University of Science and Technology Student Cultural Week). The Okrika people preserve their Culture and pride by allowing maidens participate in the Iraa ceremony, where she will be kept in a fattening room, taught the skills, traditions and ways of womanhood. Then she is taught the dance steps of the daughters of the creeks by older women.
This Iraa can be competed for within the community, it is even used to represent the Culture of the OKRIKA people in Rivers State.
During the 90s, Rivers State had an inter-state cultural competition called RIVIFEST, where all the 23 LGAs come out with their finest masquerades and dancers. The essence was to Showcase the rich heritage of each LGA and Rivers State as a whole. The winners of the RIVIFEST would then represent the state in any cultural competition in the Country; I do not mean present day “CARNIRIV” where masquerades and LGA chairmen take the front seat of a Decorated Float (No Disrespect to it) but where communities actually compete and showcase their culture and the Governor of the State with invited High Chiefs from other states, Royal Kings and Industry leaders watch in admiration of a colorful Rivers. In due time, Rivers State attracted other states in the country to participate in the RIVIFEST competitions. Oh, Okrika always took First position (not because of the obvious though).
In the bid to exhibit the rich cultural heritage of the Nigerian people, the Minister for Information, Culture and Tourism, Lai Mohammed has listed OGUN STATE to host NATIONAL DRUMS FESTIVAL. The Minister who spoke in Abeokuta while launching and unveiling the logo of the maiden edition of the “National Drums Festival” to be hosted by Ogun State, said that the festival was in line with the ministry’s efforts, of not only preserving the cultural heritage of the country, but also to foster unity among the people.
The National Drums Festival, first of its kind to be staged by the State is scheduled to hold between Tuesday, April 19 and Friday, April 22. The 36 States, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), according to the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Muyiwa Oladipo would participate in the four-day event saying the festival is meant to showcase rich cultures and values by the various ethnic groups in the country. It is also aimed at uniting the people. Also the festival will feature the unveiling of the tallest drum in the world, measuring about 14-feet.
I hope and pray that preliminary inter-LGA competition has started before now through the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Rivers State to see which community/LGA is representing Rivers State in the Drum Festival. Because I know that we have Great sounds from this region.
May we beat the Drum of Peace and Unity every once in a while. God Bless Rivers State and her people.
Iraaaa-wooo eeeehhh!!! (That is what my people shout when a bride or iraa maiden comes out).
Written by Cecilia Iniperitiari Dikibo
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