Awka (Ọka) is the capital city of Anambra State, South East Nigeria. The city has an estimated population of over 2.5 million as of 2018. Awka is one of the most populous cities in Nigeria. It has a large university community which at times comprises more than 16% of the population of the town.
It hosts two primary universities of higher/tertiary education which are Nnamdi Azikiwe University and Paul University. 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 AD, and was the cradle of Igbo civilisation.
The city was declared capital of Anambra State on 21 August 1991, immediately after the creation of Anambra and Enugu state.
The town lies at about 40 km east of the Niger from Onitsha and shares boundaries with Nibo, Amawbia, Isiagu, Okpuno and Amansea. It stretches from about kilometre 40 North of Onitsha/Enugu road to about kilometre 50 towards the South on the same road and as one travels along the Onitsha/Enugu road, one observes Amansea town and the village of Umuokpu which is a part of Awka. A distance about 20 km mark the beginning and the end of the area from Achalla to Nise starting at the boundary with Agulu in Aniocha local government area, the town stretches over a distance of about 26 km.
The city is about 200 km (125 mi) by road directly north of Port Harcourt. A network of roads connects Awka with Onitsha, Enugu, and Ihiala. Awka is located midway between two major cities in Northern Igboland such as Onitsha and Enugu state.
Awka, like most towns in Nigeria, is in the rain forest region with two seasonal climatic conditions: the rainy season and the dry season with short spell of harmattan. The dry season start from February to May while the rainy season starts from June to September. Harmattan starts from December to February. The land is considerably fertile and such agricultural products like cassava, yam, fruits and vegetables are harvested for local consumption.
Visitors wishing to access Awka by air have to make use of the nearest airport to Awka which is Asaba International Airport (IATA: ABB, ICAO: DNAS). The airport handles domestic services connecting the city to Nigeria's major metropolitan centres. It also serves Onitsha, across the Niger River in Anambra State. The distance between Asaba International Airport to Awka is 59 km which is 52 minutes by road.
Many transport companies in Awka offer daily services from almost all major cities and states around the country as well as international destinations in West Africa. Some of the transport companies in Awka are:
- 1 GUO Transport, St. Michael Shopping Plaza, by Unizik Junction, Awka-Onitsha Enugu Expressway, ☏ . Daily 5AM-9PM. GUO Transport is known for its comfortable and reliable vehicles and customer service. GUO Transport has Hiace, Sienna and Coach bus. ₦2,000.
- 2 God Is Good Motors (GIGM), Elite shopping complex, opposite Crunchies Fries, Enugu/Onitsha Expressway, Awka, ☏ . Daily 5AM-9PM. God is Good Motors (GIGM) is a bus transportation company offering road transport services, bus rental and booking services. GIGM is reputed to be the most technologically-driven road transport company in Nigeria. The company has provided top class road transport services since 1998. ₦1,500.
- 3 ABC Transport PLC (ABC), Standard Plaza km 20 Onitsha Enugu expressway, Opposite Crunches Fastfood, beside GIGs motor, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 5AM-7PM. ABC transport Company's services include Cargo Express and City Transit Inn (CTI). ABC Transport operates in various locations both within and outside Nigeria. The company also offers comfortable lounges in different cities like Jibowu & Amuwo-Odofin in Lagos, Aba, Owerri, Port-Harcourt, Abuja, Enugu, Onitsha, Umuahia, Jos, Mbaise, Bolade, and International destinations include such as Accra (Ghana), Togo, and the Benin Republic. ₦1,500-20,400.
Like most cities in Nigeria, transportation in Awka is based primarily on motorcycle, bus, taxis or private car.
- 1 Ogbunike caves, fite Ogbunike, Ogbunike. M-Sa 8AM–5PM. The Ogbunike caves are a system of many caves linked together by small, tunnels and passages. It consists of a massive structure with a big open chamber of about 5 m high, 10 m wide and 30 m long at the entrance. There are ten tunnels at the main chamber leading in different directions. Within the tunnels are big chambers and other tunnels of varying lengths, some of which are interconnected. The caves are occupied by a large colony of bats of various sizes. There are streams and body of water at various places. A stream flows out from one of the tunnels into a rapid flowing river (River Nkissa). At the meeting point of the river and the stream one can feel the warm water from the caves and the cold river water. Beside this portion of the river is a tableland of about 5 x 5 m squarec used as a relaxation spot by visitors to the caves. The caves' immediate environment, which is up to about 200 m radius, is a thick tropical rainforest type of vegetation. The site has sufficient boundaries (20 hectares) to protect its values from the direct effects of human encroachment.
The people of Awka perform many festivals annually. The period of each festival is determined by counting the appearance of the moon so that each native month has its own festivals. Festivals in Awka involves diverse cultural activities which all together portrays the glamour of the city’s indigenous way of life. These festivals are the anvil on which cultural unity is anchored as its celebrations and this acts as a unifying force which binds the people of Awka together. These festivals are occasions for merriment and it is seasoned with a purpose attached to different aspects of a city’s life. It is usually a period of rest from strenuous daily activities thus, availing them quality leisure time to consume all the entertaining cultural aesthetics of the event. Frankly speaking, through ages, Awka traditional festivals with its associated cultural display has been a platform that sustained cultural uniformity amongst Awka people and its neighbouring towns.
- The Uzo-iyi Festival comes up annually and it is a show of the rich cultural festival of the Igbo’s with the unique attributes of the people of Umuoji. This age long festival was aimed at appreciating God for the bumper harvest of the previous year as well as soliciting for his blessing as another farming season sets in. During the festival, the masquerades mainly consist of animal masquerades drawn from the twenty three villages that made up Awka. This festival always drew multitudes of people from different states and Awka at large.
- Ika Agba Festival is one of the top cultural festivals in Nigeria. It is usually being celebrated between May and June every year in Awka. During this festiva, indigenes of Awka visit Umokpu village in a long walk. Umuokpu, is one of the 33 villages that made up Awka.
- Imo Awka Festival is the most popular and most important festivals in Awka. This festival marks the beginning of the planting season. It is generally occur around May and it lasts for 28 days or seven native weeks. It is a masquerade festival during which the youth with their colourful masquerades roam the streets exhibiting youthful exuberance. On the other hand, the aged sit by, recalling their feast in their youthful days on such occasions. The grand finale is the day the whole participants, young and old and the masquerades converge at the Nkwo Imo Awka shrine where the high priest performs some rituals and prays that God gives them favourable weather during the farming season. He also prays for the good health of every Awka man and woman during the year.
- Otite Festival is popularly known as the Onwa Asa Festival. It marks the end of the year and it is a festival that expects that every Awka man abroad must come home. It involves feasting and highlights that every capable man kills a fowl or a goat for his father.
- kwu Na Ije Festival is an ancient festival marking the end and the beginning of the blacksmithing year. During the festival, the blacksmiths thanked God for guiding them through the year in foreign lands and begged Him to help them in their business during the New Year.
Awka like most Nigerian cities is defined by large rudimentary informal markets where everything from basic food produce to clothes, cosmetics and household items are being sold. The largest market in Awka is Eke Awka Main Market named after one of the four market days in Igboland. This market is on Nnamdi Azikiwe Avenue Awka. It houses an estimated 5,000 lock-up shops and stalls all tightly packed into less than 35,000 m² of space and has become infamous for causing tremendous traffic chaos with a medley of shoppers, buses, wheel barrows all jostling for the limited amount of space available.
It is a central market at the heart of Awka Town. It is a centre of different activities ranging from food items to hair care products, fabric, pipes, upholstery, kitchen utensils among many others.
The second largest market in Awka is Nkwo Amaenyi located further down on the busy Zik Avenue business district artery. It is far smaller than Eke Awka with less than 100 market stalls in an area estimated at around 3,000 m². Food items and other items are being sold in this market.
In addition to older informal markets in Awka, there are several beautiful supermarkets that have sprung up around the City to cater to customers seeking modern shopping conveniences. These supermarkets offer a wide range of products ranging from food items to provisions, beauty care items, furniture, wines, drinks, hotel stock, frozen foods, biscuits, perfumes, toiletries among many other things.
- 1 Intercity Supermarket (beside Amaku Teaching Hospital), ☏ . It is a very big shopping mall comprising of supermarket section and furniture collections, they offer sales of household items, office furniture, schools and hospital furniture.
- 2 Ebony Classics Supermarket, Abakaliki Street, ☏ . Daily. a super store in Awka for sales of cosmetics and beauty care products.
- 3 K.C. Rose Exclusive Supermarket, Appeal Plaza Maduka Street, Aroma Junction, ☏ . Daily. A supermarket center in Awka for sales of wines, foreign bags of rice and beverages.
- 4 MRS Supermarket, Along Onitsha-Enugu Expressway, Amawbia, ☏ . Daily. It is a convenient superstore for shopping wide range of everyday needs such as provisions, frozen foods, grocery, and beauty care products.
- 5 Signet Supermarket, No. 1 Ken Okoli Street, Works Road, ☏ . Daily. It is a convenient shopping store that offers sales of everyday needs such as provisions, beauty care items, personal care, wines, and drinks.
- 6 Joycee Supermarket, No. 56 Works Road, Amikwo Village, ☏ . Daily. It provides shopping services on frozen foods, wines, beverages, baby foods, biscuits, chocolates, cosmetics, perfumes, toiletries, households, food seasoning, cooking oil, gift items and toys.
- 7 Rapet Supermarket, No. 49 Mmaduka Street, Ifite Road (opposite Macdons Restaurants, Aroma), ☏ . Daily. It is a convenient shopping store that offers sales of everyday needs such as provisions, beauty care items, personal care, wines, and drinks.
There are one stop restaurants at Awka available for visitors and travellers to stop by and have a sumptious meal. Prominent among these restaurants include:
- 1 Five Star Food and Restaurant, Along Onitsha,Enugu Onitsha Expressway, Awka, Anambra State (from Onitsha take a bus or taxi to enugu Onitsha Expressway), ☏ . 8AM-10PM. Dine in. Take away. Africana dishes. Continental dishes. Assorted meat. Assorted fish pastry. Cake. Bread. Ice cream. Drinks. Natural juice. Shawarma. Food tray services and No contact Delivery.
- 2 Okwitex Restaurant and Kitchen, Okey Chiwoka Street, ☏ . Dine in, take away, delivery.
- 3 Bamboo Garden, Adum Street, ☏ . Daily 10AM - 11PM.
- 4 Supreme Taste Fries And Restaurant, ☏ . Daily 8AM - 10PM. This spot offers dine-in, take away and delivery services.
- 5 Madam Best Restaurant, No 7 Amikwo Street, ☏ .
- 6 Diamond pizza, Ifite Road Awka, ☏ . M-Sa 8AM-9PM. Dine in, take away. Chicken Shawarma. Snacks. pizza. Food. Drinks and delivery services. From ₦500 up depending on what you want to buy.
- 7 Fro Resto, Geneva Hotel Rd, street 420109, ☏ . Daily 9:30AM - midnight. Western food. Dine in, take away, delivery.
There are nice joints and bars in Awka where visitors can go and enjoy themselves.
- 1 Gaga Wine Bar and Lounge, Abakiliki Street. Daily.
- 2 New World Lounge (Empire Nightclub), No. 2 De Geo Gold Road, ☏ , . Daily.
- 3 Lounge 360, No. 20 Abakiliki Street, UNIZIK Temsite, ☏ . Daily.
- 4 Cofi Premium Lounge, No. 5 Okochukwu Close (off Okpuno road, near former INEC office). Daily.
- 5 Mars Sci-Fi Lounge, H2O Building, Abakiliki Str (off Oby Okoli Avenue Temp. Site. Okpuno). Daily.
- 6 Bejoy Entertainment Center, Aroma Junction. Daily.
- 7 Ofiaku Bar, 180, Zik's Avenue. The bar offers dine-in, take-away as well as delivery services.
Awka has over 15 3-star hotels and many more are being built.
- 1 Marble Arch Hotels Limited, 1-5 Marble Arch Drive, Off Oby Okoli Avenue. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. A well-known hotel with about 100 elegant and warmly furnished rooms, well spacious and serene environment, swimming pool. ₦10,000-23,000 per night.