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
Located between Enugu and Onitsha and about 400 miles east of Lagos, Awka, pronounced “Oka”, is in the center of the densely populated Igbo heartland in southeastern Nigeria. Also the capital city of Anambra state in Nigeria, visiting Awka is big fun. Friendly locals. Beautiful nature. Tasty food. Plus, it is a cheap town to travel; you will certainly get great value for your money.
One of the earliest places documented to have produced bronze works and thus, regarded as the foundation of Igbo civilization, the town became popular for its metal works and skilled blacksmiths who were responsible for making local guns and agriculture implements for neighboring towns. The people of Awka take pride in their metal works, hence the slogan ‘Sires of Smiths’.
Awka is the one of the towns in Nigeria that welcome foreigners from all other states and countries. Currently, it has a significant number of immigrants from northern Nigeria, Delta and Enugu states; Cameroon and Ghana now comprising more than 60% of residents in the town. If you are not on a budget, you can have the very best for a reasonable price.
TOP 3 SITES
The largest market in the town, Eke Awka is named after one of the four markets. It is located on a former community burial ground in the center of the city and 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, wheelbarrows all jostling for the limited amount of space available.
Agulu Crocodile Lake
Not far from Awka, Agulu Crocodile Lake that has over three hundred crocodiles with guest houses in Awka where visitors can lodge.
Popularized by the Imo-Oka festival usually held in May to begin the farming season and appease the gods for a fruitful farming period, Imo-Oka Stream is one of the venues where very colourful masquerade and dances are displayed.
Awka is regarded as the center of hospitality in Anambra state as it hosts a wide range of visitors. It is the go-to place for holding political meetings, conferences are organized by the state government and Nnamdi Azikiwe University and where other events such as workshops and training are hosted by federal institutions and NGOs such as the World Bank and the UN. The town currently has over 15 3-star hotels, each providing a measure of western-style comfort and services. Some of the most popular include Finotel Classic Hotel, Jesse Hotel, Parktonian Hotel e.t.c
Shopping in Awka can be quite a worthwhile experience. The town has fantastic shopping opportunities and is also known by many as a great handicraft center. From Boutiques, supermarkets, fashion outlets, and local markets, there are a lot of places to go and it all depends on what you intend to buy, and how much is your budget. If you look for something like a flea market, check out “Nkwo Amaenyi” market located further down on the busy Zik Avenue business district artery. You will find antiques, jewelry, and pearls and, of course, cheap fake branded clothes.
The Awka cuisine is not that famous around the country, but it is quite unique and the meals are quite tasty. The locals love their food and there are a lot of things worth trying! Visitors enjoy their favorite: the ‘Banga stew’, locally called ‘Ofe-akwu’. The delicacy is made from the oil extracted from the palm kernel and spiced up with the local scent leaf called ‘Nchonwu’. Another delicacy of the city is the bitter leaf soup. There is also the goat meat pepper-soup and other local dishes.
The renowned writer Chinua Achebe is said to have drawn inspiration from Awka in writing Things Fall Apart.