Awka is situated in Anambra state, Nigeria. Awka is also the capital city of the state. A legal declaration which made Awka the capital city of Anambra state was enforced on the 21st of August, 1991.
History Of The Awka People
Awka is known to be home to one of the best bronze works in the earlier years in the Igbo community. The Ifiteana were the earliest Awka people. The word “Ifiteana” means people that grew from the soil. The early Awka people were predominately farmers, blacksmiths and wood workers.
The region of Awka was known to be populated with a lot of elephants. In the olden days, the elephants were hunted for their tusks. The ivory tusks were a symbol of Okanube, a deity of the Awka people.
The Awka community is an Igbo community. According to the early Awka people, the Awka community was discovered during the search for a place with good facilities. A certain man called Nneoshi discovered Ugwuoba, he settled in Ugwuoba and had two sons. The sons’ names were: Awka and Ugwuoba. After the death of Nneoshi, the first son stayed in Ugwuoba. His second son, Awka, left to settle in another land which is the present day Awka.
Villages And Towns In Awka
Currently in Awka, Awka has two main local governments: Awka North and Awka South. In the Awka North, there are ten towns, which are: Mgbakwu, Amanuke, Urum, Ebenebe, Ugbene, Awba Ofemili, Achalla, Amansea, Isu Aniocha, Ugbenu. The Awka South has nine towns: Umuawulu, Nibo, Mbaukwu, Awla, Amawbia, Ezinato, Isiagu, Nise and Okpuno.
Awka is a combination of two main Igbo groups, Ifite group and Ezinator group. The Ifite group has four subgroups, namely, Nkwelle, Amachalla, Ayom-na-okpala, and ifite-oka. The Ezinator group has Amikwo, Agulu and Ezi-Oka. In totality, Awka has 33 villages.
Major Occupations Among The Awka People
The Awka people were mainly farmers, hunters and blacksmiths. Crafting high quality farming implements for Awka and it’s environ. The Awka people were praised for their impeccable ironwork skills. They also made bronze artifacts for artistic purposes.
The Awka people were a resourceful and courageous people. They were talented in making guns, hoes, knives, cutlasses and other iron work items. Due to modernization, blacksmithing and hunting are not as common as they use to be. However, the Awka people still thrive at farming, planting enough crops to feed themselves and other people in their neighborhood.
Presently, the most common occupation of the Awka people is trading, farming and civil service. Education has made it easier for the people of Awka to be involved in diverse disciplines like medicine, law, artistry and so on.
Some Rich Culture Of The Awka People of Anambra State
The early Awka people were traditional Africans who believed in the local deity. The abode of the deities were the shrines. The shrines were set aside by the people of Awka to honor the deity. In Awka, the locals call the shrines ‘Olulu’ where a big tree often covers the shrine. The shrines of the traditional Awka community were usually decorated with white clothes and leaves.
The Imo-oka shrine is one of the most popular shrines in the early Awka community. The Imo-oka is a deity worshipped by everyone in the early Awka community. The Imo-oka deity was known to be a deity of vengeance, traced to the very beginning of frequent inter-tribal wars between Awka and its environs.
The Imo-oka has an interesting history. According to tradition, when a young girl from Awka became sick, doctors were brought from towns around Awka. Nomeh, the young girl, died even with the numerous treatments.
After she was buried, the ground Nomeh was buried became the Imo-oka’s shrine. People believed that Nomeh cursed the village and haunted her kinsmen. According to the people of Awka, calamity befell the community. The Awka kinsmen announced that Nomeh’s spirit was angry that her life was cut short.
The people of Awka called medicine men from villages far and wide to appease her spirit. After her spirit was pacified, the ground she was buried became so powerful that it became a deity of its own, the Imo-oka. The Imo-oka festival marks the beginning of the Awka new year, and till date, the celebration still takes place every year.
Common Beliefs In the Awka Community
The Awka people believe in monkeys being messengers of their gods. The belief is made dominant by the various stories that the people of Awka tell their children. Till today, people from Awka don’t kill monkeys due to their strong belief in the oral tradition.
Another belief in the Awka society is the belief in the Imo-Oka. The Imo-oka is known to be the main god in the Awka society. The divinity is believed to be responsible for a bountiful farming season in Awka. Although most people of Awka are presently Christians, some still believe in the divinity.
Taboos And Abomination Of The Awka People
There are some taboos and abominations in every African community. One of the most significant abominations and taboos in Awka community is the killing of Monkey. The rule is as old as Awka itself. Legend has it that when the Awka community had a dispute with another community over an expanse of land. The enemy community planned to attack the Awka community, but Awka gods sent their messenger, the monkeys, to notify the people of the planned ambush.
There is a common saying amongst the people of Awka which is: ‘Awka na aso enwe’ that loosely translates as ‘the killing of monkeys is forbidden for any reason’ Whether for eating or any sort of purpose. There are different versions to the Awka story, but the similarity between them all is that the monkeys saved the day. It is believed that if a non-Awka person kills a monkey in the Awka community, and an indigene witnesses such, and did not report it, it is said that the deity will punish him/her for the despicable deed.
Also, when a non-Awka person kills the monkey, if it were intentionally, he will give the monkey a befitting burial. If it not on purpose, he will give the Awka deity a gift to be forgiven of his errors. The monkeys are often described as divine and god-sent. Even when monkeys destroy farmlands in Awka, or eat their crops, they have an immediate immunity which protects them from being hurt by the people. This particular belief is peculiar to the Awka people only, not every community has this belief.
Festivals/Communities In Awka Community
There are diverse festivals and ceremonies by the Awka people. Here we give you the most commonly celebrated festivals amongst the Awka people.
Imo-Oka Festival In the Awka Community
The Imo-oka festival is a festival peculiar to the Awka people of Anambra state onlym The festival is a festival that lasts for two weeks. This festival commonly takes place around May, when the Awka farming season begins. The chosen date must be approved by the Eze Imo-oka, which translates as ‘The Chief Priest of Imo-oka’. The festival is to honor the Imo-oka deity, in order to get a prosperous farming season with a lot of good crops.
The Chief Priest is responsible for the Imo-oka shrine and everything related to the Imo-oka. One of the most important days in the two-week festival is the day people of Awka land visit Umuokpu with masquerades. The visitation occurs after informing Umuokpu of their upcoming visit. The people of Umuopku welcome the people of Awka and celebrate the Imo-oka.
When the final day approaches, the people of Awka visit the Imo-oka stream. On the afternoon of the final day, it is a usual occurrence for the rain to fall that time every year. Some of the events for the festival are:
• Egwu Imoka
• Ogwu Oghugha
• Egwu Opu-eke
The festival involves people flogging each other in the spirit of festivity. Awka people believe it’s a test of the endurance of pain. The people of Awka believe that during the festival, their ancestors are with them in spirit.
Marriage In The Awka Community
The Awka people marry according to the Igbo rites. Although many Igbo families have exorbitant bride price lists, the Awka bride price list is mostly determined by the parents. Some give away their daughters after expensive marriage rites, others are considerate and have lists with affordable items. Below is an example of a marriage list in Awka.
Complete Marriage List In Awka
• 1 goat
• 8 tubers of yam
• 1 hen
• 8 kolanuts
• Ego Urmuo- N100.00
• Small stout or N1,000
• 2 hot drinks St Remy
• 2 cartons of beers
• 1 crate of malt
• 1 carbon of small stout
Youths of the family
• 3 cartons of beer
• 1 carton amstal malt
• 1 carton of hot drink
Elders of the family
• 1 carton of small stout
• 1 carton of hot drink St Remy
• 1 carton of amstal malt
Local Traditional Foods of Awka People
Awka has a rich culture, interesting festivals and even tastier meals. The Awka people are lovers of the Banga stew, which is also known as ‘Ofe-akwu’ by the Igbos. The Abacha cuisine is also a loved meal by the Awka people. Abacha is made from cassava. The cassava is grated and left in water. It is the dried and cooked. Presently, the Awka people are lovers of diverse meals due to civilization.