Little Okai’s Naming ‘Outdooring’ Ceremony (Essex)

It always special when you capture a couple’s wedding day and it’s just as special when you as a photographer  are invited back to capture other important moments in their lives.  I shot Nana & Russell’s Wedding in April this year and at the time Nana was about 5 months pregnant (You can see that here) and they gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Okai in June (he came a bit early!).  Nana & Russell both come from Ghana and in their culture when a baby is born they have a special ceremony to officially name them, and take them outside for the first time, hence the name ‘Out-dooring’.  It’s an age-old tradition which has now been adapted to fit life in the UK.  For a start it’s way to cold here to wake-up at 5 in the morning!  The whole events takes place at the family home, in this case Russell’s mum (aka Grandma!). The ceremony starts with Elders in the family sharing a special alcoholic drink.  Then the baby is presented to the gathering by one of the baby’s god-father.  The baby is then taken to the front door to be taken ‘out-door’ for the first time by the same god-father who introduces liquid on the baby’s lips and steps over him three times.  The idea is that the baby will hopefully take on the characteristics of that god-parent so the parents have to choose wisely!  Everyone then goes back inside to have another drink to signify they were present.  At this point there is a nice touch where anyone in the gathering is invited to bring a gift, as a show of support for the baby and that they want to be part of the child’s upbringing.  They are announced by an officiator and back in the day they would bring livestock, food, precious metals but nowadays to make things easier it’s cash!  They would also have their family name announced but on this day the officiator for comical effect made up funny stories about each one and so that provided a lot of laughs all round. Then is was time for food, and at this point we slipped out nto the back garden to capture a few portraits.  It was a great day and for me it felt like catching up with old friends and being introduced to another wonderful addition to the their family.  When Russell first asked me to come and capture the whole event I was like ‘…what should I expect?…’ and he said ‘…you know the Lion King, think the ‘Circle of Life’ bit at the beginning when they name Simba!!!…”.  So I had that song playing in my head the whole time. So congratulations Okai, welcome to the world and as you look at these photos it might be an idea to have the ‘Circle of Life’ playing in the background hehe. So altogether now….”…It’s the Circle of Life…..”

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