History of Nnewi City
The King of Nnewi kingdom
Nnewi is an industrial city and the second-largest city in Anambra State in southeastern Nigeria. The city is known for producing a diversified range of transportation entrepreneurs from transporters, to spare parts dealers and manufacturers. It is located about 15 miles south of Onitsha and has a population of about 958,000. The city spans over 1,076.9 square miles (2,789 km2) in Anambra State. As of 2005, Nnewi Metropolitan Area and its satellite towns are home to nearly 2.5 million residents.
The Nnewi Kingdom is also known as Anaedo meaning the Land of Gold (The supreme deity and goddess of Nnewi).
Geographically, Nnewi falls within the tropical rain forest region of the world. And as such, it suffers from soil leaching and soil erosion. In spite of these factors, that have reduced the soil to a porous sandy terrain, her citizens have survived this harshness through subsistence type of agriculture and trading.
Prior to this period, an elaborate network of trade routes has emerged over the centuries linking them to the coastal region, the riverine Igbos and the entire Igbo mainland (Oru na Igbo). Dimensionally, Nnewi has an edge over all other units, being recognized by the 1953 figures as the largest inland town of all others in the Eastern states
Nnewi is a town in Anambra State, south-central Nigeria. It is located about 15 miles south of Onitsha and has a population of about 958,000. Geographically, falls within the tropical rain forest region of the world. And as such, it suffers from soil leaching and soil erosion.
In spite of these factors, that have reduced the soil to a porous sandy terrain, her citizens have survived this harshness through subsistence type of agriculture and trading. Prior to this period, an elaborate network of trade routes have emerged over the centuries linking them to the coastal region, the riverine Igbos and the entire Igbo mainland (Oru na Igbo)
Nnewi is the only town in Nnewi North LGA. It has four villages (sub-towns) that make up the one-town local government, which includes; Otolo, Uruagu, Umudim and Nnewi-Ichi. The traditional ruler of Nnewi- Igwe of Nnewi -presently is Igwe Kenneth Orizu the 3rd of which this royal family is from Otolo Nnewi, and for this reason, is regarded as first among equals of the four villages.
Other traditional rulers exist in other villages and they oversee the traditional affairs of their respective villages, which are Obi Nnamdi AC Obi (ogidi)who is obi of Uruagu, Obi Umudim And obi Onyekaba Of Nnewichi.
Nnewi as a metropolitan city encompasses 4 local government areas, Nnewi North, Nnewi South, Ekwusigo and Ihiala Local Government; Nnewi North is commonly referred to as Nnewi central and comprises four autonomous quarters: Otolo, Uruagu, Umudim, and Nnewichi. Nnewi North also includes Ichi, an autonomous neighbouring town. Each quarter is further divided into villages and family units called Umunna. Each Umunna has a first family known as the obi.
Otolo is the premiere quarter of the four quarters in Nnewi has been outstanding in all aspect of human endeavours. In it seated the mantle of leadership that governs the other quarters for the past decades. Its central success is figured in commercial trade but not limited to it, as its cultural heritage has always been the beacon of light to other neighbouring villages.
Before the British took over the administration of Nnewi in 1904, Nnewi as a kingdom had thrived for about four to five hundred years, according to oral tradition. It is believed that the kingdom was founded around the 15th century. Throughout her history, Nnewi employed its military might to maintain her borders and at times to expand them, if need be. Buffer zones were established against attacks. She accomplished these without a standing army. Based on the nature of the internal problem, mercenaries from Igboland were brought in to assist in army campaign of carnage
Edo is the supreme deity of all the deities in Anaedo clans. The central shrine of this unifying deity is as Nkwo Nnewi (central market). Nnewi, Ichi and Oraifite are members of Anaedo. These communities have common ancestries with respect to their beliefs and their traditional value system. In the field of entertainment and traditional festivities, Afiaolu (New yam festival) and Ikwuaru are among traditional festivals held by Nnewi.
By 1940, Nnewi residents were at the centre of an international trading network that dominated the supply of motor spare parts in Nigeria. The town subsequently became a centre for commerce and industry and has one of the largest automotive parts markets in Africa. Nnewi Township is an authentic “manufacturing miracle.” Small and medium-sized industries have set up in the town and are producing not only for the Nigeria markets but – albeit still to a limited extent – for markets abroad. Industrialization of the town began around 1970 when Nnewi motor parts traders began marketing their own brand name products instead of the reproductions of “original” parts.
The first indigenous car manufacturing plant in Nigeria is located in the city while the first wholly made-in-Nigeria motorcycle, the ‘NASENI M1’ was manufactured in Nnewi. This great town called Nnewi is renown for producing great statesmen and leaders of commerce. The town is also one of the major trading and manufacturing centres of Nigeria. Due to its high commercial activities, the city has attracted millions of migrants from other states and countries.
The great majority of industrialists in the cluster of spare parts factories in Nnewi are also traders, and most of these traders are producing one or more of the products they specialize in marketing as traders (usually motor vehicle parts), and most began by distributing their products through their preexisting distribution networks.
Nnewi is part of eastern Nigeria’s industrial axis. The town has through culturally grounded institutions that act as sophisticated networks expanded to include an international dimension through trading relations with exporters from Asia. Over the last decade, the town of Nnewi has experienced relatively rapid industrialization. In excess of 20 medium to large scale industries have been established across a variety of sectors.
Since 1970, Nnewi has been a major trading and manufacturing centre in Nigeria. Nnewi residents have controlled approximately 80 to 90 per cent of the motor-parts trade in Nigeria. Nnewi (Nkwo) Market is the major import and wholesale point for motor spare parts in Nigeria. The industrialists of Nnewi are adapting foreign technology to local needs, providing employment to thousands, and making available goods and services which are relevant actual needs of the Nigerian citizens. Due to its high commercial activities, the city has attracted millions of migrants from other states and countries.
The Ofala Nnewi is a cultural festival held every year to celebrate the coronation of the Igwe of Nnewi. Afiaolu (New yam festival) and Ikwuaru are also among traditional festivals held annually in Nnewi.
It is an honour and a privilege for us to call the great town of Nnewi our hometown. We invite you to experience Nnewi the next time that you travel to Nigeria. Thanks
Oral History and Mythology
Nnewi’s history dates back to the fifteenth century when migrants from Benin, Agbaja, Abatete, Ikenga and Ndoni settled in the area and were soon grafted into various descent groups. Nnewi’s organization structure is configured in four-quarter or territories: Otolo, Uruagu, Umudim and Nnewichi. Each quarter is made up of a large descent group comprising smaller lineages and headed by an Obi, the chief of the quarter. The four quarters in Nnewi were the original names of the Sons of Nnewi: Otolo being the eldest and Nnewichi being the youngest of the sons. Edo is the supreme deity of all the Alusi (Igbo: deity) in the Anaedo Kingdom. The central shrine of this unifying Alusi is at Nkwo Nnewi, the central market. There are four other deities in Nnewi: Ana, Ezemewi, Eze and Ele.
Three of the quarters in Nnewi are connected together by the high goddess Edo. However, with the arrival of missionaries to Nnewi beginning in 1892, residents gradually converted to Christianity. The C.M.S. church was the first to come to town and it later established schools at Otolo, Nnewi and Uruagu.
The city’s central market Nkwo founded in 1901 is a major spare parts market in the country. It has various sectors dominated by the spare parts division, timber and furniture area, cloth area and food area.
Nnewi existed as an independent kingdom from the 15th century to 1904, when British colonial administration occupied the kingdom. The arrival of the British colonial officer Major Moorhouse signified a gradual change with the establishment of civil courts, a royal Nnewi court and the appointment of warrant chiefs. Igwe Orizu I was given a warrant for Nnewi.
In Nnewi oral history and mythology, the ‘ewi’ (Igbo: bush rat) played a great role in saving the founders of Nnewi during wars. Nnewi has used its military might to maintain its borders and because of this, the killing or eating of ewi in Nnewi is forbidden to the present day. The town’s name is a combination of ewi, a term for a rabbit and nne, mother, meaning Nnewi, mother of rabbits throughout its history,
Other Version of Nnewi History
There have been various contradictory and controversial versions about the origin and initial migrations of the founding fathers of the present Nnewi Town.
The Four Quarters As The Progenitor’s Version
Some hold the opinion that the four quarters of Nnewi were the sons of the man Nnewi in order of seniority. According to Professor Awolalu, Otolo, Uruagu, Umudim and Nnewichi were made out of chalk(Nzu) inside a pot which Chukwu (God) gave to the goddess Edo. According to him, after Chukwu had made them in their order of seniority and breathed His breath into them, the goddess Edo told them,
“I am the mother of you all, Nnewi and the land on which you are walking is Ana-Edo – that is my prize from Chukwu because the Nzu (chalk) with which you are made and with which the land is made is a special privilege and a gift from Chukwu”.
According to him, when these four sons of Nnewi, Otolo, Uruagu, Umudim and Nnewichi grew up” they went to Arochukwu and took four sisters and married them. The problem with this version is that the ruling classes in Uruagu and Umudim quarters immigrated much later into Nnewi from Oba and Ojoto in Idemili Local Govt. Area” at a time when Nnewi Town and its monarchy had existed for over two and half centuries: and that both had no historical connection with Arochukwu.
One Isu version had it that after the death of their father lkenga, when his two sons, Ezeani Isu and his junior brother Nnewi went to consult the Arochukwu oracle in Arochukwu, Nnewi fell in love with an Aro Princess. She later became his beloved wife and the mother of DIGBO” the first traditionally crowned Nnewi king. Digbo became the father of Otolo.
According to the version recorded by Okafor, Nnewi had four sons: Otolo. Uruagu. Umudim and Nnewichi. Although the names represent the present four quarters of Nnewi, historically, they don’t represent ‘their chronological order of seniority as will be proved later. The concluding words of Okafor himself: “From the foregoing, it would appear that Nnewi had no common putative ancestor”. Read More
The city is located near a bypass that links Port Harcourt to Onitsha, the latter is a few kilometres from Nnewi.
Historically, the Nnewi Local Division is comprised of 14 towns among the towns and surrounding population centres are Nnobi, Amichi, Orifite, Ichi, Ozubulu, Ukpo and Ezinifite. The area creates a contiguous and dense settlement of people engaged in farming, commerce and industry.
Geographically, Nnewi falls within the tropical rain forest region of Nigeria. The city like most of its environs goes through two major seasons: rainy and dry season with an intermittent case of harmattan.
The area is a lowland rain forest with a broad strip of between 130-200km and it is situated in the Awka-Orlu uplands where outcrops of sandstones and shales have been differentially carved by erosion. Although it suffers from soil leaching and erosion which has reduced the soil in some areas to a porous sandy terrain, it remains an area of rich agricultural produce and the epicentre of business trade.
The city is located near the margins of a plateau that slopes towards the River Niger, and it is connected to the coast through Aboh on the Niger and about 22 kilometres south-east of Onitsha in Anambra State, Nigeria.
Overview of Anambra State, Nigeria
Nnewi is a town in Anambra State, Nigeria. Anambra State is known as the Home for All. The estimated population of the state is approximately 4 million people. The capital of the state is Awka. The major cities and towns in the state are Aguata, Awka, Ihiala, Nnewi, and Onitsha. The state was created on August 27, 1991, following the creation of states exercise in Nigeria. The state was created from the old Anambra State and derives its name from the Anambra River, which itself is a tributary of the majestic River Niger. Anambra State has two of the largest markets in Nigeria. The markets are the Onitsha Main Market reputed to be the largest of its kind in the West African sub-region, and the Nnewi (Nkwo) Market which is said to be the largest automotive parts market in Nigeria. Few states in Nigeria have as many neighbours as Anambra State. The state shares boundaries with Abia State, Delta State, Enugu State, Imo State, and Kogi State.
The traditional monarch of Nnewi is called the Igwe. The Igweship in Nnewi kingdom predates the arrival of Europeans, making it a unique monarchy in Igbo land. The Igbos are known for not having kings, hence the popular Igbo saying Igbo é nwě Eze’, meaning ‘the Igbos have no king’. In other Igbo clans, the British colonial administrators created warrant chiefs who then assumed the office and title of Igwe and are elected to this day. In Nnewi, the Igwe is the ISI obi (head of the Obis) and hence the Igwe, which literally translates as the heavenly one or highness as he is the holder of the Ojo, the religious and political symbol. He is born and not made or elected, and the institution of inheritance is the traditional right and privilege. The position is neither transferable nor negotiable. He is also an Obi. Obi is the title held by ruling chiefs; it is the equivalent of a duke in the nobility.
The present reigning monarch is His Royal Highness Igwe Kenneth Onyeneke Orizu III; he is the longest-serving monarch in Nigeria and he is currently the 20th monarch in the Nnofo Royal lineage. Igwe Kenneth Orizu III is the first-class chief in Anambra state from Nnewi as well as the vice Chairman of the Anambra State House of Chiefs.
The traditional rulers of Nnewi
There are Obis in the four clans that make up Nnewi. The highest and the most senior obi is the Obi of Otolo, who is also the Igwe of Nnewi. Chief Nnamdi Obi, Obi Bennett Okafor and Obi George Onyekaba are the current obis of Uruagu, Umudim, and Nnewichi, respectively. These three obis with Igwe Kenneth Orizu, III as chairman constitute the Igwe-in-Council and they deliberate on the spiritual, traditional, and communal matters, in Nnewi.
There is also an active town union called the Nzuko-Ora Nnewi. It is a forum through which adult Nnewi natives (18 years or older) can contribute to the development of Nnewi. This union was set up to encourage and promote the establishment of structures and facilities that will promote and improve the quality of life of people resident at Nnewi people.
The ancient legal system of Nnewi was not based upon a written law. It was purely natural law, involving custom, tradition, and civil and criminal cases. The legal process in Nnewi passed through the labyrinth of the extended family system. A report against an offender or a criminal in the first instance had to be made to the head of his family at his ancestral home known as obi. The head of the family would invite elders and minor obis from his extended family unit to sit in judgment, while the complainant would also invite the elders and minor obis from his extended family side if both of them were not from the same family. This obi would serve as the court of the first instance, depending, of course, on the nature of the offence or crime allegedly committed. The trial might end here, if both the complainant and the accused were satisfied with the judgment given, or they might take the case to the next senior obi of the same extended’ family, in ascending order, until, probably, the matter got to the highest obi in the lineage. If the complainant was not satisfied at this point, he would appeal to the obi of the quarter and the leaders of his family could be summoned to defend their judgment.
Through this legal procedure, guilt or innocence could easily be established, as the decision was based purely on natural justice. Punishments for offences and criminal acts were given in relation to their gravity. A man who was found guilty of a serious crime might have no option than to be sold into slavery or expelled from the community for life. He would not be killed because the killing of human beings was against the injunction of Edo Goddess.
The judicial system in Nnewi seems to have recognized three classes of cases, the minor offences, the true criminal case, and the civil suits of debt, bride price and land. The breaking of by-laws was really an offence against some particular juju and as such was to be expiated by a sacrifice. It was, for example, forbidden to kill an “eke” snake, a type of python, or to eat “ewi,” rodent of the rabbit family. It is probable these laws were never broken willingly and if broken by accident, the offender would automatically perform a sacrifice without any form of the judicial trial being held. The criminal code, with regard to serious crimes, appears to have been more developed in Nnewi than elsewhere in Igboland. There were seven main classes of offences, which were known as “ori-obi,” offences against the obi, as their investigation was always carried out in the obi of the quarter.
In the Nigeria arena of politics, Nnewi has contributed its fair share of key players in Nigerian politics. Some of the famous Nnewi politicians are
- A. A. Nwafor Orizu; president of the Nigerian Senate in the First Republic and later, the Acting President before the first coup d’etat of 1966,
- M.C.K. Ajuluchukwu; a nationalist, anti-colonialist and first republic law-maker,
- Chief Z.C. Obi (Onunekwuluigbo Igbo); First republic politician, President General of Ibo State Union 1951-1966
- Sir Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu, OBE,
- Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu (Ikemba Nnewi); former Military Governor of defunct Eastern Nigeria and President of defunct Republic of Biafra,
- Comrade Dr Edward Ikem Okeke; Deputy President of the PRP and Special Adviser to the President (Second Republic),
- Mr F. C. Nwokedi; the first Nigerian Permanent Secretary,
- Dr Dozie Ikedife (Ikenga Nnewi); former President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo,
- Professor A. B. C. Nwosu; Former Health Commissioner in East-Central state and Anambra state, respectively, and was also a Federal Minister of Health in the Obasanjo government
- Dr Chu Okongwu; was a Federal Minister of Finance in Babangida’s government.
- Dr David Bennet Anagwu Ofomata; The first Indigenous Medical Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation, First CEO/Chairman Anambra Health Management Board & Chairman old Nnewi LGA;
- General Samuel Ifeanyichukwu Momah was a Federal Minister of Science and Technology.
- Senator Onyeabo Obi (Ose Oji Nnewi) was a Federal Senator,
Here is the list of secondary schools in Nnewi North Local Government Area:
- Girls’ Secondary School, Nnewi
- Maria Regina Model Comprehensive Secondary School, Nnewi
- Nnewi High School, Nnewi
- Nigerian Science & Technical College, Nnewi
- Okongwu Memorial Grammar School, Nnewi
- Women Educational Centre, Nnewi
- Community Secondary School, Nnewichi, Nnewi
- Akoboezem Community Secondary School, Uruagu, Nnewi
For this past fifty years, Nnewi has embarked on various types of community development programs which include building primary schools, post-primary schools, hospitals, rural electrification and water supply projects. These infrastructures earned her urban status in the early 1970s. In terms of education, Nnewi has 48 elementary schools, 6 post-primary schools,15 hospitals, medical centres and teaching hospital– Nnamdi Azikiwe University.
Apart from contributing her own share in terms of Nigerian Politics, Nnewi has created a vibrant economy since after the Civil War. In spite of the setback, during and after the Civil War, Nnewi has made a quantum leap with respect to economic development. , Ajulu Uzodike (Ozi Uzo Nnewi) was the President
Agbo Edo, a forest land which belonged to Edo Nnewi deity, was cleared to make way for a new market called Nkwo Nnewi market. The development of this market propelled the fast development of the local economy.
Nkwo Nnewi Auto spare parts industry started during the Civil War. By the early 1980s, manufacturing of autos, spare parts and other goods were added to the economy. These industries have survived over the years due to the quality of their products. Their market shares have increased tremendously in recent years. Today, Nnewi accounts for over 23% of products in the Nigerian market with respect to motor vehicles and motorcycle spare parts.
As a fast developing city and a major industrial and commercial hub in Africa, Nnewi experiences voluminous financial activities, therefore, hosts major banks and other financial institutions. Industries are dotted around the city and adjoining towns. Palm oil, cosmetics, motor, and motorcycle spare parts, books, and stationeries, textiles, electric cables, and so on are produced in commercial quantity in the area. Its main trading centres include Nkwo Nnewi market (the largest spare parts market in west Africa) and Nwafor market, Eke Amaobi market, Eke Ochie, Eke Ichi Market, Orie otube Market, etc.
To support the aforementioned economic progress, Nnewi has at the present, six to seven modern hotels that are well furnished with modern amenities. The most important ones are:
- Anaedo Guest House
- Beverly Hills Hotel
- CONV-AJ Hotel
- Hotel De Universe
- King’s Palace
- Ofala Guest House and etc
Agriculture and forestry
The main occupation of Nnewi people is trading and farming, therefore they depend mainly on agriculture and commerce for their daily livelihood. Most Nnewian have mbubo (home gardens) and Ubi (out-station gardens) where they usually cultivate their farm products. These crops when they are harvested are usually taken to the market for sale. Most of the prime cash crops include oil palm, raffia palm, groundnut, melon, cotton, cocoa, rubber, maize, et cetera. Food crops such as yam, cassava, cocoyam, breadfruit, and three-leaf yam are also produced in large quantities. The location of Nnewi within the tropical rainforest gives it the ecological basis for the production of a wide range of tropical agriculture crops with widespread potential for the industrial convention.
Nnewi is home to many major indigenous manufacturing industries including Ibeto Group of Companies, Cutix and ADswitch, Uru Industries Ltd, Omata Holdings Ltd, Cento Group of Companies, Coscharis of Companies Group, Innoson Group of Companies, Ebunso Nig. Ltd, John White Industries, Ejiamatu Group of Companies, Chicason Group, Louis Carter Group, etc.
The great majority of industrialists in the cluster of spare parts factories in Nnewi are also traders, and most of these traders are producing one or more of the products they specialize in marketing as traders (usually motor vehicle parts), and most began by distributing their products through their preexisting distribution networks.
The growth of small and medium scale engineering and manufacturing firms in the city can be traced to various factors including location and perceived noneconomic social institutions such as family, culture, religion and kinships which imbibes trust. Many of the firms employ family members and relations at critical positions and employ age-old coordinated social political-cultural institutions such as lineages to provide an economic function. A number of the firms started out as trading entities before branching into manufacturing firms and utilized technical skills and techniques acquired from Taiwan and a few other Asian countries. They were able to withstand the structural adjustment programme of the mid to late 80s, by showing significant growth during the period as other firms folded.
During the rise of indigenous manufacturing clusters in the city, the firms functioned as substitutes of the state, many times providing their own water, road and power facilities.
Nnewi is part of eastern Nigeria’s industrial axis. The town has through culturally grounded institutions that act as sophisticated networks expanded to include an international dimension through trading relations with exporters from Asia. Over the last decade, the town of Nnewi has experienced relatively rapid industrialization. In excess of 20 medium-to-large-scale industries have been established across a variety of sectors. Since 1970, Nnewi residents have controlled approximately 80 to 90 per cent of the motor-parts trade in Nigeria.
Nkwo Nnewi Market is the major import and wholesale point for motor spare parts in Nigeria. The industrialists of Nnewi are adapting foreign technology to local needs, providing employment to thousands, and making available goods and services which are relevant actual needs of the Nigerian citizens. The first indigenous car manufacturing plant is located in the city, while the first wholly Made-in-Nigeria motorcycle was manufactured in Nnewi by the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI).
The following are the names of the major manufacturing industries:
- Ibeto Group of Companies
- Cutix and ADswitch
- Omata Holdings Ltd
- Centro Group of Companies
- Coscharis of Companies Group
- Innoson Group of Companies
- Edison Nig. Ltd
- John White Industries M. O. I. Ltd.
- John Ray Industries LTD
- Luis Carter Industries LTD
- Iju Industries LTD and etc
Nnewi is known for the vibrant auto industry in the city, the first Igbo man to own and drive a car was HRH Igwe. Orizu I (Eze Ugbo Onya Mba) in 1912. By 1940, Nnewi residents were at the centre of an international trading network that dominated the supply of motor spare parts in Nigeria. The town subsequently became a centre for commerce and industry and has one of the largest automotive parts markets in Africa. Nnewi Township is an authentic “manufacturing miracle.” Small and medium-sized industries have set up in the town and are producing not only for the Nigeria markets but – albeit still to a limited extent – for markets abroad.
Industrialization of the town began around 1970 when Nnewi motor parts traders began marketing their own brand name products instead of the reproductions of “original” parts. There are a several auto and motorcycle spare parts dealers in Nnewi; the Nnewi Motorcycle spare parts market is well known throughout West Africa. There is also new auto plant, the first of its kind in Nigeria, owned by a Nnewi businessman, Innocent Chukwuma, Oon and a Chinese auto Company.
Nnewi, as a historical city, has many cultural events and places adorned with festivities and cultural monuments, including Edo Na Ezemewi shrine, Udoogwugwu shrine (Ichi), Kamanu shrine (Ichi), and many other shrines dotted across all sections of Nnewi city. Nnewi host many festivals, notably amongst them is the New yam (Afiolu, also known as Ifejioku festival) which all parts of the city participate and masquerades from all federating towns participates in. The festival attracts all sorts of activities and celebrations of which all Nnewi residents’ hold to the highest esteem.
In the average home of any Nnewi citizen, they usually keep kola nuts, garden egg and peanut butter in their refrigerator should in case of any stranger or visitor to their home. Every visitation to their home begins with the offering of the kola nuts to the visitor. The kola nut is indicating that the visitor is very much welcomed. The ritual of the offering of kola nut is inspired with the giving in prayers and blessing or lobby to the supreme God and other deities, for the protection of the visitor and the host. Its seems to be a custom to the people of Nnewi in any of their traditional ceremony.
Arts and crafts
Local artists thrive in this municipal rural communities. Works of art produced in the area comprise carved doors, walking sticks of different designs, sculptures, flutes, wooden mortars and pestles, gongs, and the famous talking drums. Metalworks and various types of productions are locally fashioned.
For more details on this topic, see Igbo music.
The Nnewi people, just like every other Igbo group, have a musical style into which they incorporate various percussion instruments: the udu, which is essentially designed from a clay jug; an ekwe, which is formed from a hollowed log; and the ogene, a handbell designed from forged iron. Other instruments include opi, a wind instrument similar to the flute, igba, and ichaka.
There are three types of marriages in Nnewi as also practised across the Nigerian society: the traditional marriage held in the house of the woman; the official wedding, held in a registry office and which allows only one wife; and the religious marriage.
The official marriage ceremony is called “Igbankwu”, which is the Igbo word for the traditional marriage ceremony. Nnewi does not have an “engagement” ceremony. Rather, the Igbankwu is preceded by a series of events during which the potential bride’s and groom’s families engage each other to discuss the terms of the marriage. Perhaps this can be characterized as an engagement. Please note that Nigeria has 250 ethnic groups and each varies on marriage traditions. Further, within groups, there can be even greater differentiation.
The traditional attire for the men is an overflowing jumper or a long-sleeved shirt worn over the gooji wrapper, which is tied around the waist, curving down to the ankles. This dress is matched with a cap and a walking stick, which aids as an instrument of support and defence. The traditional wear for the women is a blouse, worn over a loincloth. This female attire goes with head-tie earrings and necklaces or traditional necklaces
New Yam Festival
In Nnewi, the occasion of Iri-Ji ohuu (new-yam eating) is a cultural festival because of its significance. Nnewi people celebrate their new yam festival usually at the end of August during which assortment of festivities marks the eating of new yam. These festivities normally include a lot of variety entertainment including the performance of ceremonial rites by the Igwe (King), cultural dances by Igbo men, women and their children as well as a display of Igbo cultural activities in the form of contemporary shows, masquerade dance, and feasting at a grand scale on a wide variety of food making up the menu of the Igbos.
The first day of the festival the Igwe of Nnewi will officiate the Harvest thanksgiving ceremony at his palace where the yams are offered to gods and ancestors first before distributing them to the villagers. After the prayer of thanksgiving to god, The Igwe eats the first yam because it is believed that his position gives him the privilege of being intermediaries between Nnewi communities and the gods of the land. The rituals involved in the new yam eating are meant to express the community’s appreciation to the gods for making the harvest of their yams possible. This, therefore, explains the three aspects of Igbo worldview, that they are pragmatic, religious and appreciative. This ceremony has been celebrated for centuries and as has always presented the right conditions for all and sundry, family and friends to come together to demonstrate their commitment and solidarity to their local community. Due to this fact, the Igbos everywhere in the world do celebrate this event in a highly captivating manner in order to protect and celebrate the enriched cultural heritage of her people.
Nnewi, Ichi and Oraifite made up the Anaedo Empire. Anaedo communities have common ancestries, beliefs and traditional value systems. Christianity was introduced by the Europeans in 1885 and many Nnewi people now practice Christianity.
Due to this reason, religion has occupied a central place in the heart of Nnewi people. This counts for the huge churches and religious practices in the city. The people of Nnewi are 96% Christian, with small fractions of other faiths: 2% traditionalist, 0.2% Jews, 0.3% Muslims and 1.5% others. Among the Christian community, the catholic and Anglican Communion shares a greater number of followers followed by other Pentecostal Christian groups.
Christianity first came on the Southeastern part of Nigeria with the arrival of the Holy Ghost missionaries from Gabon to Onitsha under the leadership of Fr. Joseph Lutz late on Saturday, December 5, 1885. Fr. Joseph Shanahan (The Apostle of Igboland) joined them in 1902 and when the mantle of leadership fell on him in 1905, history was set to record the evangelization of Roman Catholic Diocese of Nnewi. The stream of this evangelization was to flow through two main courses almost concurrently: one having Nnewi as its source and the other Ozubulu/Ihiala.
Though individuals from various communities have come in contact with the faith as they travelled to Onitsha and other places for trade and in quest of western education, the actual planting of the seed of the gospel in Nnewi Diocese from the Catholic perspective sprang from the treks of Fr. Victor Duhaze to Ozubulu through Oguta (1906) and to Nnewi through Umuoji, Ojoto Mili Agu down to Odida Nnewichi in 1906.
However, the Anglican Church was established in Nnewi from Obosi in 1893. But the seed of what is today Nnewi Diocese was sown in 1809. Requests were made by Odida. The community in Nnewichi inviting Fr. J. Shanahan. In the same year, some Ozubulu indigenes had registered the same requests for establishing a Church station at Ozubulu. Nnewi people are proud of there traditional Odinani as well as the new religion of Christianity. @(Note:The Church Missionary Society CMS under the leadership of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther and Reverend Henry Townsend arrived Onitsha on July 27, 1857)
Transportation is very vital to the development of any commercial centre. Historically, with the development of road networks in Nigeria, Igbo businessman many from Nnewi came to play a major role in the commercial transportation of goods and people from various locations in Nigeria to another. The first owner of a vehicle in the city was the Igwe and the major road was the Uzo wire Rd which followed a communication line.
The demand for commercial transport grew with the rise of palm produce export and intraregional trade needs. The transport entrepreneurs from the town branched out to various urban cities of the federation and by early 1980s, over 50% of the entrepreneurs were working out of Nnewi. Transporters from Nnewi were known for their un-orthodox South to North migration patterns jettisoning the fashionable North to the south pattern.
Nnewi ranks first among other towns in the aspect of economic development. Nnewi is well known as the home of several transport and logistics businesses since the end of the second world war. Philip Odumegwu Ojukwu was one of Nigeria’s first transporters and since then, many more transporters have emerged from Nnewi.
Some of the Nnewi owned transport firms in Nigeria are:
- Chi Di Ebere Transport Ltd
- Ekene Dili Chukwu Nig. Ltd.
- Ijeoma Motors Nig. Ltd.
- Ekeson Motors Ltd
- Izuchukwu Nig. Ltd.
- Nsoedo Transport Ltd
- Orizu Transport Limited
- Blue base Transport Solutions
- Izu Okaka Anaedo Ltd
- Ojukwu Transport
- D, D Onyemelukwe Transport
Despite these major steps in the right direction, Nnewi people are still striving to improve their community in terms of good roads, living quarters, and educational facilities. Nnewi organizations
Nnewi hosts a number of institutions and places of learning and healing, which include Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH) and a number of international agencies. The Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi, is at the forefront of providing excellent health services to the nation. The hospital and its annexes since inception had provided specialized and comprehensive medical care to the immediate community and beyond. Its mandate also includes undergraduate and postgraduate medical and paramedical training as well as research. These services had grown from strength to strength through the years fueled by comprehensive annual plans approved by the Federal Government.
The ancient city of Nnewi hosts a number of traditional and formal learning institutions and places of learning, which include a Medical University: Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH) Government secondary schools: Okongwu Memorial Grammar School, Maria Regina Secondary School, Nnewi High School, Ichi Technical School (Ichi Community), Ichi Girls, Akoboezemu Community Secondary School, Anglican Girls Secondary School, Nnewi-Ichi Community Secondary School e.t.c. Private schools: Summit International School, The Good Shepherd School, New Era School, Dr Alutu’s College of Excellence School e.t.c. ,
Crime rates are low[clarification needed] but civil disputes such as land ownership and family inheritance exist. In more recent times, the market square and banks have experienced well-publicized and organized criminal attacks that have been allegedly linked to the local police. There are now open debates on reinstating a local vigilante crime-fighting group called the Bakassi Boys, who had a multi-year stint in Nnewi in the late 1990s when the crime was on the increase. This group had a modus operandi that many considered barbaric but necessary – convicted thieves were killed in public by dismembering their body parts with a sharp machete and burning them alive. The activities of this group of men who had the permission of the Governor of the state was seen by the Human rights activists and civil right movement as a violation of human rights and campaigned against their practices. Recently, Nnewi is relatively peaceful except for isolated occurrences of the kidnapping of prominent local citizens for large ransoms