As part of our ongoing indebt coverage of Nigeria’s heritage in different parts of the country, Miracle Udeagha captures some of the cultural endowments that make Abia State great.
AS one of the nine states created by former President Ibrahim Babangida on August 27, 1991, Abia, carved out of Imo state, is made up of 10 of the former 21 Local Governments of Imo state. Some of the popular areas include Aba (Enyimba City), Arochukwu, Ohafia, Bende, Ikwuano, Umuahia, Isiala Ngwa, Isuikwuato, Obioma Ngwa and Ukwa.
However, with the creation of more local government areas in 1991, Abia State now has 17 local government areas. And the state, under the current leadership of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, boasts of many colourful cultural heritages.
Predominantly an Igbo state, where Igbo language is spoken with minor differences in dialectic pronunciations, particularly between the Ngwa, Umuahia and the Afikpo areas. The central dialect of each zone can however be easily identified by any indigene of the state. However, the people of Abia adapt to the central Igbo culture with very minor differences.
Traditionally, “George” and “Abada” with a blouse is the popular form of dressing among women in the Sstate, while the men adorn traditional wrapper with jumpers or long sleeve shirts.
Essentially, traditional dancing is popular, among the indigenes. The Nkwa Nwaite, Nkwa Umuagbogho and the Ohafia war dance are all famed dance groups in the state.
Abia State is equally rich in craft. In fact, the Isuikwuato areas are notable for the production of local pots, while traditional weaving is known among the Akwete’s in Ukwa East Local government.
The National War Museum at Umuahia is a conventional tourist centre. Formerly commissioned in 1985, the museum comprises the bunker house of the defunct Voice of Biafra, then Nta House, and importantly the famed Ojukwu Bunker. This underground structure housed the Biafran State House and secretariat after the fall of Enugu during the Nigerian Civil War (1967-70). Relics of the war are kept in this museum, including the Biafran Ogbunigwe, armoured cars, off-shore batteries, rocket launchers, Ojukwu bucket bombs and the Biafran helicopter. Also in this museum are materials connected with the Enugu miner’s riots, Tiv riots, Aba Women Riots etc.
The Abia Hotels in Umuahia and Afikpo, are popular places for relaxation.
Abia state has enormous tourist potentials although most of them are yet to be exploited. The Ibini Ukpabi, which the colonial officers pejoratively dubbed the Long Juju of Arochukwu is one of such centres. This was the famous god of the Aro people prior to European adventurism. In fact, the shrine attracted adherents from far and wide, and was noted for its honesty and quick dispensation of justice. The shrine is finely decorated and fitted with a long metal tunnel and pipe from which it is expected to talk. Its role during the slave trade era remains a source of research for future historians.
Other natural tourist attractions in the state are the Azumini Blue River in part of Aba and Ukwa East local government. (Daily Times)