History of Awka Anambra State

History of Awka Anambra State Nigeria

History Of Awka Anambra State

Origin Of Awka

(Igbo: Ọka)is the capital city of Anambra State, Nigeria, the city was declared capital on 21st August 1991 after the creation of Anambra and Enugu state which makes to move the capital from Enugu to Awka (An Administrative center since/during pre colonial time).

 Population And Roads Linking To Awka

History Of Awka Anambra State The city has an estimated population of 301,657 as of the 2006 Nigerian census, and over 2.5million as of 2018 estimated. The city is located 199.1 kilometres (123.7 mi), by road, directly north of Port Harcourt in the centre of the densely populated Igbo heartland in south east Nigeria.

The West-East Federal highway links Lagos, Benin City, Asaba, Onitsha, and Enugu to Awka and several local roads link it to other important towns such as Ekwulobia, Agulu, Enugwu-Ukwu, Abagana and Nnewi.

Strategically, Awka is located midway between two major cities in Northern Igboland, Onitsha and Enugu which has informed its choice as an administrative center for the colonial authorities and today as a base for the Anambra State government.

“Awka has a certain kind of aura about it, because it was the place of the blacksmiths that created implements which made agriculture possible.” — Chinua Achebe

Origin And How Awka Came About

History Of Awka Anambra State , awka is one of the oldest settlements in Igboland established at the centre of the Nri civilization which produced the earliest documented bronze works in Sub-Saharan Africa around 800 AD and was the cradle of Igbo civilization.

Occupation Of Early Settlers Of Awka

History Of Awka Anambra State The earliest settlers of Awka were the Ifiteana people which translates into people who sprouted from the earth. They were farmers, hunters, and skilled iron workers who lived on the banks of the Ogwugwu stream in what is now known as Nkwelle ward of Awka.

In ancient times, Awka was populated by elephants with a section of the town named Ama-enyi and a pond Iyi-Enyi where the elephants used to gather to drink. The elephants were hunted for their prized ivory tusks (okike) which was kept as a symbol to the god Okanube in every Awka home with hunting medicine stored in the hollow of the tusk.

Over time, the town become famous for metal working of a high level and its blacksmiths were prized throughout the region for making farming implements, Dane guns and ceremonial items such as Oji (staff of mystical power) and Ngwuagilija (staff of Ozo men).

Awka Pre-Colonial Days

History Of Awka Anambra State In pre-colonial days Awka also became famous as the home of the Agbala Oracle a deity that was said to be a daughter of the great Long Juju shrine of Arochukwu. The Agbala Oracle (which Chinua Achebe drew on for inspiration in his book Things Fall Apart) was consulted to resolve disputes far and wide until it was finally destroyed by colonial authorities in the early part of the 20th century.

Before the inception of British rule, Awka was governed by titled men known as Ozo and Ndichie who were accomplished individuals in the community. They held general meetings or Izu Awka either at the residence of the oldest man (Otochal Awka) or at a place designated by him. He was the Nne Uzu or master blacksmith, whether he knew the trade or not, for the only master known to Awka people was the master craftsman, the Nne Uzu.

In modern times Awka has adapted to the republican system and is currently administered by the Awka South Local Government Area. However, it still preserves traditional systems of governance with the respected Ozo titled men often consulted for village and community issues and a paramount cultural representative, the Eze Uzu who is elected by all Ozo titled men by rotation amongst different villages to represent the city at state functions.

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Different Between Awka And Awka-Etiti
Awka should not be confused with Awka-Etiti which is a town in Idemili South local government area that is often mistaken for the main capital.[6] Today, Awka is the capital of Anambra state of Nigeria.

Awka comprises seven Igbo groups sharing common blood lineage divided into two sections. Ifite Section, the senior section, comprises four groups, Ayom-na-Okpala, Nkwelle, Amachalla, and Ifite-Oka followed by Ezinator Section, which consists of three groups, Amikwo, Ezi-Oka and Agulu. Each of these groups has a number of villages. All together, Awka comprises 33 villages

Today, Awka people can be found all across the globe many working as skilled professionals in a wide range of fields. As a result, there is a large Awka diaspora located primarily in the UK and in the United States. There, they have formed social clubs like Awka Union USA and Canada, Awka Town Social Community UK and Ireland and other community associations. These associations have been a way for people to enjoy their culture as well as to engage in community self-help projects.

Over the years Awka Town has also attracted people from other states in Nigeria who are resident in the city.

Awka lies below 300 metres above sea in a valley on the plains of the Mamu River. Two ridges or cuestas, both lying in a north–south direction, form the major topographical features of the area. The ridges reach the highest point at Agulu just outside the Capital Territory. About six kilometers east of this, the minor cuesta peaks about 150 metres above sea level at Ifite –Awka.

Awka is sited in a fertile tropical valley but most of the original Rain forest has been lost due to clearing for farming and human settlement. A few examples of the original rain forest remains at places like the Ime Oka shrine. Wooded savannah grassland predominates primarily to the north and east of the city. South of the town on the slopes of the Awka-Orlu Uplands are some examples of soil erosion and gullying.

Awka is in the tropical rainforest zone of Nigeria and experiences two distinct seasons brought about by the two predominant winds that rule the area: the southwestern monsoon winds from the Atlantic Ocean and the northeastern dry winds from across the Sahara desert. The monsoon winds from the Atlantic creates six months of heavy tropical rains, which occur between April and July, followed by a short dry period in August lasting two to three weeks with the rain resuming in September and October. This is followed by five months of dryness (November – March) marked by a Harmattan wind, also known as Ugulu in Igbo, which is a particularly dry and dusty wind which enters Nigeria in late December or in the early part of January and is characterized by a grey haze limiting visibility and blocking the sun’s rays before dissipating and leading to extreme dry heat in the latter months of February and March.

The temperature in Awka is generally 27-30 degrees Celsius between June and December but rises to 32-34 degrees between January and April, with the last few months of the dry season marked by intense heat.

The economy of Awka city revolves primarily around government since many state and federal institutions are located there. Awka hosts the State Governor’s Lodge, State Assembly and State Ministries for Health, State Judiciary headquarters, Education, Lands, Water.

The Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS) a TV and radio station are located in the city centre. A number of federal institutions including the Central Bank of Nigeria (which has a currency centre in Awka), the NTA Awka media station, and branches of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Federal Road Safety Commission, Nigerian Immigration Service, and Corporate Affairs Commission are also present in the city.

Major Nigerian Banks such as Access Bank, Bank PHB, Diamond Bank, Ecobank, First Bank, Intercontinental, Oceanic Bank, UBA, Union Bank and Zenith Bank have opened branches in the city.

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Prior to the Nigerian Civil War, Awka townspeople maintained the city on their own. Market traders cleaned around their stalls; streets and pathways and compounds were swept. Blocked storm drains would be cleared by residents

The first attempt to address the urban decay was made by the Government of Peter Obi who forged a technical cooperation agreement with UN-HABITAT in 2007 to provide technical assistance in the preparation of a structure plan for Awka Capital Territory. The Structural Plan of Awka Capital Territory (2009–2028) is designed as a Core-Multi-Nuclei urban design with Awka, Amawbia and Umuokpu serving as the core of the city with linkages to the major towns of Adazi-Nnukwu, Agulu, ABBA, Abagana, Agukwu-Nri, Amansea, Enugwu-Ukwu, Enugwu-Agidi, Isiagu, Isu-Aniocha, Mgbakwu, Nawfia, Nawgu, Nibo, Nimo, Nise, Okpuno and Umuawulu.

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Governor Peter Obi implemented just a few of the UN-HABITAT’s recommendations managing to tar less than 5 kilometers of urban roads, improve waste collection and upgrade schools and the teaching hospital. His government also began installing water pipes along the popular Nnamdi Azikiwe Road and Ifite Road but he left office without providing a credible citywide public water supply.

History Of Awka Anambra State Nigeria

His successor Governor Willie Obiano has taken on the charge of transforming the ancient town into something the state can be proud of. To spearhead the transformation, Obiano created the Awka Capital Territory Development Authority (ACTDA) mandated to deliver a capital with modern standards of quality. ACTDA has completed aerial mapping in June 2015 with the government set to appoint a town planning firm to develop a Masterplan for the city.

Obiano has also gone ahead to change the gateway into and out of Awka by expanding the A232 expressway to three lanes and constructing three flyovers at three key junctions between Amobia and Amansea.

Awka like most Nigerian cities is defined by large rudimentary informal markets where everything from basic food produce to clothes, cosmetics and household items are sold.

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The largest market in the town is Eke Awka, named after one of the four market days (see Igbo calendar). Located on a former community burial ground in the center of the city, Eke Awka has grown from a small market serving the needs of residents of the Agulu, Ezi-Oka and Amikwo sections of Awka to functioning as the main retail outlet for the city and neighbouring towns. It houses an estimated 5,000 lock-up shops and stalls all tightly packed into less than 35,000 square meters of space and has become infamous for causing tremendous traffic chaos with a medley of shoppers, buses, wheel barrows all jostling for the limited amount of space available.

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The second largest market in Awka is Nkwo Amaenyi located further down on the busy Zik Avenue business district artery. It is far smaller than Eke Awka with less than 100 market stalls in an area estimated at around 3,000 square meters.

Christianity is the main religion of Awka people although many also retain belief in their traditional religion which encompasses many similar traditions and values as noted by G.T. Basden.[10] The Church Missionary Society (CMS) of the Anglican Church was instrumental in bringing Christianity into Eastern Nigeria through Reverend Samuel Ajayi Crowther who founded the Niger branch in 1857. A teacher’s training college in Awka was created in 1904. Its oldest church in the town is believed to be the Church of the Holy Spirit which was completed in 1930. The largest church in the capital city today is the Living Faith Church [Winners Chapel, Awka] with a typical Sunday attendance of over 2,500.

The Roman Catholic Church lagged behind the Anglican Church in entering Awka but it has built a larger presence ever since. The Catholic faith has two large cathedrals – St. Patrick’s and St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Awka as well as four smaller churches such as SS John and Paul’s, St. Anthony’s, St. Peter’s and St. John’s spread around the town. Administratively, since 1977 Awka has served as a diocese for the Roman Catholic Church serving 107 parishes and five chaplaincies.

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Living Faith Church, Awka [A.K.A. Winners’ Chapel, Awka] is the largest Pentecostal Church in the metropolis hosting thousands of worshippers weekly in its yet-to-be filled 5000-seat capacity auditorium. It is also the first church in the State Capital to air all of its major weekly programmes live on YouTube, Twitch and on its official website.

The Imo-Oka festival is a two weeks-long festival of masquerades and dances held in May at the beginning of the farming season in honour of a female deity who it is hoped would make the land fertile and yield bountiful crops. The festival starts with Awka people visiting the community of Umuokpu with masquerades and it ends with a visit to the Imo-Oka stream on the final day which is heralded by a heavy rain that falls in the late afternoon.

There are four major events performed during the festival, the ede-mmuo, ogwu oghugha, egwu Opu-Eke and Egwu Imo-Oka. Egwu Opu Eke is a rich cultural dance performed by female worshipers of Imo-Oka shrine which includes priestesses and ordinary women alike decorated in colourful costume dancing in the market square in honour of the deity controlling the shrine.

The Imo-Oka festival showcases a variety of masquerades (mmanwu) from sinister ones which flog spectators to friendly ones which sing or dance. The masquerades are believed to represent the spirits of Awka ancestors coming from the land of the dead for the festival.

In 2001 Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy MBE, a daughter of Awka, exhibited her oil on canvas paintings series of Awka Igbo Masquerades, to great acclaim in the Cork Street Gallery in London, various galleries in New York and Washington and at the Didi Museum in Lagos.

Kenneth Dike, a historian known for his study of pre-colonial Nigerian history, the first Nigerian Vice-Chancellor of the oldest Nigerian University University of Ibadan and the person who set up Nigeria’s National Archives. During the Nigerian civil war (1967–1970) Prof Dike was a roving ambassador for the Biafra cause. He went into exile at the end of the Civil war becoming the first Mellon Professor of African History at Harvard University. He returned to Nigeria to become the founding Vice-Chancellor of what is today the Enugu State University of Science and Technology.

Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy MBE, a London-based visual artist. The first black artist to paint a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II when commissioned to paint the official Golden Jubilee portrait.[16] She was chosen as one of the UK Women of the Year in 2002 and 2003, represented the UK at the Council of Europe and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of East Anglia. During 2006 her work was represented on the national postage stamps of six countries. In 2008 she addressed the Cambridge Union Chukwuogo-Roy was a regular contributor to the BBC and other current affairs programmes. In 2009 she was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Lieutenant-General Chikadibia Isaac Obiakor, appointed in 2008 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon as Military Advisor on UN Peacekeeping Operations. Previously served as Commander of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) Artillery Brigade in Liberia in 1996 and 1997, and as ECOMOG Chief Coordinator of the Liberian elections in July 1997

Chinyelu Onwurah, a British Labour Party politician, who was elected at the 2010 general election as the Member of Parliament for Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central, becoming the first female British MP of African origin.

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