The state capital of Nigeria’s Anambra State is Awka. After the establishment of Anambra and Enugu state, which transferred the capital from Enugu to Awka, the city was proclaimed capital on August 21, 1991, (an administrative center since pre.-colonial times). According to a 2018 estimate, there are more than 2.5 million people living in the city, up from an estimated 301,657 in the 2006 Nigerian census. The city is situated in the center of South East Nigeria’s highly populated Igbo heartland, 199.1 kilometers (123.7 miles) straight north of Port Harcourt.
Awka is connected to other significant towns like Oko, Ekwulobia, Agulu, Enugwu-Ukwu, Abagana, and Nnewi by the West-East Federal Highway and a number of local roads. Benin City, Benin City, Asaba, Onitsha, and Enugu are also connected to Awka via this route. Awka was strategically chosen as the administrative hub for the colonial rulers and is still the base for the Anambra State government because it is situated halfway between two important cities in Northern Igboland, Onitsha and Enugu.
There are many mind blowing facts about Awka that you might not have known including their unique cultures, environs, festivals, climate, history and many more. In this article, we would be talking about six out of the long list;
The southwestern monsoon winds from the Atlantic Ocean and the northeastern dry winds from across the Sahara desert are the two main winds that dominate Awka, which is in the tropical rainforest zone of Nigeria. As a result, the city has two distinct seasons. Between April and July, the Atlantic monsoon winds bring six months of intense tropical rains. After a brief dry spell that lasts two to three weeks in August, the rain returns in September and October. Then there are five months of dryness (November to March), which are characterized by the Harmattan wind (also known as Ugulu in Igbo), which is a particularly dry and dusty wind that enters Nigeria in late December or early January. This wind is characterized by a grey haze that reduces visibility and blocks the sun’s rays before dissipating and causing extremely dry heat in the later months of February and March. In Awka, the temperature typically ranges between 27 and 30 °C from June to December but rises to 32 to 34 °C from January to April, with extreme heat during the last few months of the dry season.
Awka has a sizable university community that occasionally makes up 15% of the town’s population. Nnamdi Azikiwe University and Paul University are its two main institutions of higher education. The federal government of Nigeria owns and operates Nnamdi Azikiwe University, which offers undergraduate and graduate programs at its more than 100-acre main campus in Ifite, Awka, to an estimated 36,000 students. When it comes to research production, Nnamdi Azikiwe University is among the top 10 universities in Nigeria. Bishops from the five ecclesiastical provinces of the Anglican Church East of the Niger founded Paul University in 2009 as a private institution of higher learning with the goal of offering top-notch undergraduate education in theology, the natural and applied sciences, social sciences, and management. St. Paul’s University College, which was established in 1904 by the Church Missionary Society of the Church of England to train teachers and church workers, has been superseded by the university, which is totally residential and has an anticipated enrollment of 400 students (expected to reach 3,500).
Seven Igbo groups with a shared blood lineage make up Awka, which is separated into the Ifite section and the senior section. They are made up of the Ayom-na-Okpala, Nkwelle, Amachalla, and Ifite-Oka tribes taken as a whole. Amikwo, Ezi-Oka, and Agulu are the three groups that make up the Ezinator division. These groups are spread throughout 33 villages in Awka, one for each group. People from Awka can now be found all over the world, many of them employed as talented professionals in a variety of industries. Consequently, there is a sizable Awka diaspora, particularly in the UK and the US. Social clubs including Awka Union USA and Canada, Awka Town Social Community UK and Ireland, and other neighborhood groups have been established there These organizations have given people a way to participate in community self-help initiatives while also enjoying their culture Over the years, residents of Awka Town have drawn visitors from various states in Nigeria.
Awka established a culture of enlightened tolerance and generosity for visitors and outsiders as a result of their reputation for travel, which persuaded British missionaries and colonial authorities to select the town as a major administrative hub. Awka has developed into the hub of hospitality in Anambra state today, accommodating the demands of receiving a variety of guests. It is now used for political gatherings, conferences organized by the state government and Nnamdi Azikiwe University, and other events like workshops and trainings hosted by federal agencies like the CBN, Immigration, and Federal Road Safety Commission as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) like FHI, the World Bank, and the UN. In addition, Awka has developed into a home-away-from-home for members of the sizable Igbo diaspora when they visit their family in Awka and neighboring towns, offering a degree of western-style luxury and services in a hotel and resort atmosphere. In fact, within half an hour of Awka, it is estimated that there is a diaspora population numbering well over 100,000. There are currently approximately 15 3-star hotels in the area, with the following being the most well-known:
- Golden Tulip Hotels and Resorts
- Marble Arc Hotel,
- Best western Meloch hotel
- De Geogold Hotel & Suites,
- Barnhill Resort
- Choice Hotel
- Cosmila Suites and Hotel
- Finotel Classic Hotel
- Golphin Suites
- La Luna Hotel
- Lavington Apartment Suites
- Malloch Best Western Hotel,
- Marble Arch Hotels
- Olde English Hotel,
- Parktonian Hotel
- Queen’s Suites Hotel,
- Suncity Exclusive Hotel
- Whyte View Hotel,
- SkyPrince Hotel and many more excellent hotels
The two-week-long Imo-Oka festival, which celebrates a female deity who is believed to make the land fertile and produce abundant crops, is held in May at the start of the farming season. The event begins with Awka residents wearing masquerades visiting the Umuokpu community, and it concludes with a trip to the Imo-Oka stream on the last day, which is signaled by a strong downpour that begins in the late afternoon. The festival features four main performances: the ede-mmuo, ogwu oghugha, egwu Opu-Eke, and egwu Imo-Oka. Priestesses and regular women equally dressed in vibrant costumes dance in the market square in homage to the deity who rules the shrine in the Egwu Opu Eke, a rich cultural dance performed by female followers of the Imo-Oka shrine. The Imo-Oka celebration has a wide range of masquerades (mmanwu), including ominous ones that flog onlookers and amiable ones that sing or dance. The masquerades are thought to depict the ancestors of Awka who have come from the afterlife to celebrate the celebration. Awka-born artist Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy MBE, displayed her oil on canvas series of Awka Igbo masquerades in 2001 to rave reviews at the Didi Museum in Lagos, the Cork Street Gallery in London, and several galleries in New York and Washington.
6. The Notable people from Awka
A. Kenneth Dike
The first Nigerian Vice-Chancellor of the oldest Nigerian university, University of Ibadan, and the person responsible for establishing Nigeria’s National Archives is historian Kenneth Dike, who is well recognized for his research on pre-colonial Nigerian history. Prof. Dike traveled about as a roving advocate for the Biafra cause during the Nigerian civil war (1967–1970). After the Civil War, he went into exile and later became the first Mellon Professor of African History at Harvard. The Enugu State University of Science and Technology, which is now, was founded by him after he returned to Nigeria.
B. Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy MBE
Visual artist Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy MBE, based in London. Being hired to create the official Golden Jubilee portrait, the first black artist to paint a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. She received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of East Anglia and was named one of the UK Women of the Year in 2002 and 2003. She also represented the UK at the Council of Europe. In 2006, six different nations featured her artwork on their official postage stamps. She spoke to the Cambridge Union in 2008. Chukwuogo-Roy frequently provided commentary on the BBC and other news programs. She received an MBE in 2009 as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
C. Lieutenant-General Chikadibia Isaac Obiakor
Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, named Lieutenant-General Chikadibia Isaac Obiakor as his military advisor for UN peacekeeping operations in 2008. In Liberia in 1996 and 1997, he served as the Artillery Brigade commander for the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) as well as the chief coordinator for the elections there in July 1997.
D. Chinyelu Onwurah
Chinyelu Onwurah, a member of the British Labour Party, became the first female British MP of African descent after winning the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central seat in the general election of 2010.
7. Awka’s Economy
The Awka people are also unique for their economy. Since several state and federal institutions are located in Awka City, the government plays a major role in the city’s economy. The State Assembly, State Ministries of Health, Education, Lands, and Water, as well as the State Governor’s Lodge are all located in Awka. In the heart of the city, there is a TV and radio station called Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS). The city also houses offices of several federal agencies, including the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Federal Road Safety Commission, Nigerian Immigration Service, and Corporate Affairs Commission. The Central Bank of Nigeria, which has a currency exchange facility in Awka, the NTA Awka media station, and the Federal Road Safety Commission are also located there. The construction of various new enterprises in recent years has significantly altered the appearance of Awka city. The headquarters of the partially state-owned Orient Petroleum Resources Ltd. are in Awka. In order to accelerate the exploitation of the enormous crude oil deposits in the Anambra River basin, the business is prepared to build a refinery at Igbariam. Additionally, Juhel Nigeria built a parenteral medication manufacturing facility in the city.
Major Nigerian banks have established branches in the city, including Access Bank, Ecobank, FCMB, Fidelity Bank, First Bank, GTB, UBA, Union Bank, and Zenith Bank.
Additionally, there are very eye catching and beautiful places to visit while on vacation in Awka. That’s included in our other articles