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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

10 Things You Should Know About Nnewi

Nnewi is located in Anambra state, South East Nigeria and is the second largest city in the state and an abode for over 300,000 people. 

Bustling with life dawn to dusk, it is a choice place to live, work and transact on various products and services.

If you’re currently planning to move to Nnewi, below are 10 things you should know.

1. Nnewi is a very commercial and an industrial city

Nnewi popularly called ‘The Japan of Africa” is a commercial city with large economic activities going on a daily basis. Next to Onitsha, it is an economic hub for commerce, industry and trade in Anambra State. There are numerous large and small markets in the town including Nkwo Nnewi which is one of the largest auto and motocycle spare parts market in West Africa.

Majority of residents of Nnewi are traders specialized in auto and motorcycle importation and spare parts distribution. The motorcycle market at Nnewi has developed to the extent that dealers in collaboration with their manufactures now have products made and sold in local branded names. Local technicians are equally equipped to carry out maintenance, repair and provide service support to customers.

The love for auto industry by Nnewi people may be said to have started as far back as 1912 when Sir Louis Ojukwu, the father of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu (Ikemba Nnewi) made history as the first Igbo man to own and drive a car.

To fulfill the needs of its auto market by local production, Chief Innocent Chukwuma an industrious son of the soil sited an automobile manufacturing plant in the city. Thus Nnewi is home to the only Indigenous Auto Manufacturing plant in Nigeria, the Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Limited that produces the IVM brand. IVM, the pride of the city has put Nnewi in the limelight for the past 5-6years producing sedans, SUVs, vans and buses. The company has also ventured into producing armored vehicles and maintenance of aircrafts.

Apart from the vibrant auto industry, Nnewi industrialist manufactures products which range from agrochemicals to plastics, electric cables etc. Some other manufacturing industries operating at Nnewi includes Life Vegetable Oil and AZ Oil of the Chikason Group, Ibeto group of companies, Coscharis Group, Louis Carter Group, Cutix Plc, Uru Industries etc.

2. Nnewi is both a city and two local government areas

Nnewi is not just a city but also a combo of two local government areas; Nnewi North and Nnewi South. Nnewi town or Nnewi Central is basically made up of autonomous communities of Otolo, Uruagu, Umudim and Nnewichi. These four large communities and a neighbouring community Ichi, make up Nnewi North local government area with their headquarters at Umudim. The sister local government Nnewi South encompasses communities like Ukpo, Amichi,Utuh, Osumenyi, Unubi etc with their headquarters at Ukpo.

Nnewi North and South Local government areas make up the Metropolitan area of the city. However, resident generally refer to only the Central area as Nnewi while other communities are known by their respective names.

3. The traditional institution is powerful in Nnewi

Nnewi is governed by a traditional monarch known as Igwe. While every autonomous community in Nnewi Central has an Obi(individual community traditional ruler), the Obi of Otolo who is invariably the  Igwe is the head of all the Obi’s and the holder of the ofo the cultural, political and religious symbol of leadership. The present Igwe of Nnewi,HRH Igwe Kenneth Onyeneke Orizu III  is the longest serving monarch in Nigeria and a highly respected first class chief in Anambra State.

Igweship in Nnewi is by inheritance thus the mantle of leaderships is neither electable nor negotiable.  Power is transferred from the King to his son, the crowned Prince at death. Annually, the Igwe hold a cultural festival known as Ofala festival to celebrate his coronation. This festival is attended by dignitaries from in and outside the country.

4. The culture of not killing Eke and eating Ewi in Nnewi

At Nnewi, it is forbidden to kill “eke”, a type of python, or to eat “ewi,” a rodent of rabbit family. Edo, the goddess which is the supreme deity of all the deities in Nnewi outlaws it. It is believed that the rodent played a great role in saving Nnewi people during the time of wars.  The python on the other hand is said to be a totem of the goddess. If anyone intentionally or accidentally killed these animals, they are punished according to the traditional judicial system. The punishment usually involves paying a fine and performing some rituals to appease the gods.

The ancient warring community is also referred to as Anaedo (the land of Edo) so residents and visitors despite their religion inclination are expected to abide by this law in honour of the goddess of the land.

5. Igbo Language is the major language for communication in Nnewi

Residents of Nnewi are majority Igbos thus they generally speak the Igbo language. Although, majority of dweller have at least basic education and can communicate in English or pidgin English, Igbo language still remain the major language of communication. Visitors or residents who do not understand the language will always have to request for people to speak English when he/her goes to the market, hospital or any public places.

Public functions are not exempted as Anambra State government champion the battle to keep Igbo language alive by the use of Igbo language at state events and other public functions.

It is advisable that any resident who intend to work and engage in business activities on long term basis learn to speak some basic Igbo language as this will facilitate his/her stay. There are study centres in Nnewi Central where one can easily enroll to learn the Igbo language at very little cost. Also, friends, associates and neighbours may be willing to assist one who is willing to learn the language at no cost.

6. Motorcycles are everywhere in Nnewi

As funny as this may sound, it is very important that anyone who plans to move to Nnewi be fully aware that motorcycles are everywhere in the city. The overcrowding of bikes in this municipal cannot be compared to what you have in any other city in Nigeria including what we had before the ban of commercial motorcycles in Lagos. One is 95 percent more likely to be knocked down by a motorcycle in Nnewi than a car.

Typically, people of Nnewi love to move around in motorcycles. Although, commercial motorcycle popularly known as Okada is a major means of transportation in the city, every household in Nnewi is believed to own at least two lightweight motorcycles which has been nicknamed Nwanyi Nnewi (Nnewi Woman).  Some families are said to have up to five or six bikes.

This quest for bike may not be unconnected to the availability of the product at affordable prices as the city plays hosts to a large motorcycle market and an indigenous auto manufacturing plant churning out bikes. The bright side is that the use of motorcycle gives easy access to areas with poor road network where cars will find difficult to navigate.

7. There’s little opportunity for white collar jobs in Nnewi

Apart from schools, banks, hotels, hospitals, government institutions and some industries that may offer employment, white collar jobs is farfetched in the city. Nnewi is not necessary a place where unemployed graduates troop to look for job like we have in big cities like Lagos or Port Harcourt. Opportunity to attend employment assessment and interviews are very limited. Private institutions are more likely to employ people based on referral and recommendation than through the normal recruitment processes. Graduates who intend to build a career in fields like software development, business administration, taxation, may not thrive in city. Most of the readily available jobs are for school leavers who are usually employed as secretaries, store man and shop assistants by individual traders at wages which may not appeal to graduate job seekers.

Blue collar jobs like mechanic, carpentry, masonry, fabrication, welding, driving are easier to come by.

8. Nnewi residents are majority Christians

Residents of Nnewi metropolitan city are majority Christians. Dwellers are very religious and attend more of first generation churches, Catholic and Anglican Churches. There is Diocese of Nnewi for both the Catholics and the Anglicans. Each of the two major denominations has a large cathedral and also a resident presiding Bishop.

Pentecostal churches are not left out as they also have a decent share of the population. Other religions like Islam, Jewish are in the minority. Adherents of religions like Buddhism and Hinduism may not have an existing place of worship in the city as such religion is strange to the people.

Even Traditional religion which is the major religion of the people before the coming of the white Christian missionaries is no longer popular.  Although freedom of worship as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution is practiced in the city, one who practices another religion apart from Christianity may find it tough to propagate his/her faith in this new abode.

9. Cost of living is cheap in Nnewi
The overall cost of living in Nnewi is affordable when compared to the cost of living in cities of similar nature. Housing is available in flats, duplex, self-contained apartments, single and double rooms and is very affordable. House owners’ are also very humane and considerate to old tenants who could not afford rents and can offer flexible payment plan of half year, quarterly or even monthly payment as against the normal yearly rent renewal.

Cost of foods like yam, rice, cassava, cocoyam, three leave yam, palm oil, maize etc.  are inexpensive as they are either locally produced or bought from nearby farming communities of Anambra state. Green leafy vegetables are grown by residents’ in home gardens and farms and are very affordable.

A plate of delicious food in a local restaurant cost between 250-500 naira. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and groceries are reasonably priced. Source of drinking water is mainly bore holes which are drilled in individual compounds or sachet water which are not costly.

Cost of transportation (bus, taxi, bike etc.) depends on your negotiation power but is within reach.

Childcare and Schooling costs are also not on the very high side. Although Tuition fees for good private schools are not outrageous, parents who cannot afford them have options of good public schools where their children can still get quality education. Working mums can get elderly women as nannies at affordable rates. Clothing is generally inexpensive. Health facilities are available and cost of accessing care very reasonable.

Facilities such as government health centres administer antenatal care, conducts child delivery, post natal care, immunization at little cost. There is also a federal university teaching hospital, the Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (NAUTH) in the city where patients can access excellent and specialist health services at low costs.

Cost of utilities, relaxation and entertainment is also within means in means.

10. Afia Olu Festival in Nnewi

Every year towards the end of August which is usually the end of rainy season and the season for harvesting yams, Afia Olu Nnewi which is the Nnewi version of the Igbo new yam festival is celebrated in the city. During this festival, indigenous sons and daughters travel from far and wide for reunion and to celebrate with members of their families. The festival takes place for a week, Monday through Sunday with Saturday being the climax.

Afia Olu Nnewi features cultural displays including rituals by the Monarch and elders of the land, dance by men, women, youth and children groups, masquerades, beauty pageant etc. Before the festival, there is usually a press release stipulating the rules for the festival especially for masquerades. Despite this ,their presence all over the city constitute  a problem for residents  as these masquerades moves around the city with canes of different sizes which they use on their rival groups and men within their age grade. As a show of strength and resilience, young men are expected when confronted to take up the challenge to withstand flogging from these masquerades while onlookers cheer in the process. Residents offer money to these masquerades to appease them and escape being flogged or to appreciate them for the entertainment.

The sight of frightened young school children running away from fierce looking masquerades in the metropolis is very common during this festival and this poses a hazard as they can be knocked down by vehicles.  Members of the public especially the female folks who by Igbo tradition are not expected to stand before mmuo (spirit of the ancestors) also gets hot chase by these masquerades. Some callous young men go as far as flogging and frightening young women who turned down their love advances in the past.

By Chinyere Ihemeje

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