Welcome to Awka, the capital city of Anambra State in Nigeria. This vibrant city has a rich history, breathtaking landscapes, and a unique culture that is sure to captivate any traveler. Awka was declared the capital on 21 August 1991, after the creation of Anambra and Enugu state, which moved the capital from Enugu to Awka. The city has an estimated population of over 2.5 million as of a 2018 estimate, making it one of the most densely-populated cities in South-East Nigeria. Awka is located at 199.1 kilometres (123.7 mi), by road, directly north of Port Harcourt in the centre of the Igbo heartland. 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 Oko, Ekwulobia, Agulu, Enugwu-Ukwu, Abagana and Nnewi. Strategically, Awka is located midway between two major cities in Northern Igboland, Onitsha and Enugu, which has played a significant role in its choice as an administrative center for the colonial authorities and today as a base for the Anambra State government.
Awka is one of the oldest settlements in Igboland, established at the centre of the Nri civilisation, which produced the earliest documented bronze works in Sub-Saharan Africa, around 800 A.D., and was the cradle of Igbo civilisation at large. The earliest settlers of Awka were the Ifiteana people, renowned as farmers, hunters and adept iron workers, all of whom indigenously inhabited the banks of the Ogwugwu stream, in what is now known as the Nkwelle ward of the city. In ancient times, Awka was populated by elephants, insofar that a section of the town was named Ama-enyi, with a corresponding pond, Iyi-Enyi, used for elephants to gather to drink. The town became known for metal working and its blacksmiths were prized throughout the region for making farming implements, dane guns and such ceremonial items as Oji (staff of mystical power) and Ngwuagilija (staff of Ozo men). During pre-colonial times, Ọka became famous as the Agbala oracle, specifically a deity that was said to be a daughter of the great long juju shrine of Arochukwu. The oracle, which Chinua Achebe used as inspiration in his book Things Fall Apart), was consulted to whenever disputes (far and wide) occurred, until it was eventually destroyed by colonial authorities, in the early part of the twentieth century.
Awka comprises seven Igbo groups sharing common blood lineage, divided into the following two sections: the Ifite section and the senior section. They collectively comprise four groups: Ayom-na-Okpala, Nkwelle, Amachalla and Ifite-Oka. The Ezinator section consists of three groups, namely Amikwo, Ezi-Oka and Agulu. 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. 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.