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Anambra, Tourist State With Abundant Art



Anambra is one of the states in Nigeria that has traditional attractions such as sacred stream and lake, with potentials for investment and tourism development. TAYO ADELAJA takes a look at the tourism potentials of this state renowned for its abundant work of art.

Located in the south-east geopolitical zone of Nigeria, Anambra State with its capital in Awka is an inland state. The people of the state are warm, hospitable and highly enterprising. The state is renowned for its abundant works of art which explains the avalanche of art centres and artists found in the state. Anambra is home to magnificent bronze works, iron works, pottery and artists that place the state in the league of the most culturally endowed ones in the country.

Anambra State is reputed to have the highest population density in Africa with an estimated density of 1500 – 2000 persons per square kilometre. It shares border with Delta State to the west, Imo State to the south, Enugu State to the east and Kogi State to the north. Unfortunately, its mineral resources remain untapped as the state is rich in natural gas, crude oil, bauxite, ceramics and arable soil.

One of the major tourist sites in Eastern Nigeria is the OGBUNIKE CAVE situated in a valley behind the Ogba Hills, Anambra State. A UNESCO Heritage Site, the cave consists of a network of sandstone chambers and tunnels, and is regarded as one of Nigeria’s greatest geographical masterpiece. Cocooned in a valley with tropical rain forest and buffered by 20 hectares of lush vegetation, the caves are occupied by colonies of bats while the surrounding rainforest is home to antelopes, deer, alligators, porcupines and snakes.

The collection of caves has been in use over centuries by local people for whom it has particular spiritual significance. Descending into the valley where the caves are located is a lengthy walkway made up of about 317 steps. The caves consist of 10 tunnels and a main chamber which snake their way underneath the hillside. The tunnels are filled with streams and small pools, and within the tunnels are big chambers as well as other tunnels of varying lengths, some of which are inter connected. 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.

The “Ime Ogbe” celebration is undertaken every year to commemorate the discovery of the caves. Local history records that Ogbunike’s ancestors hid from raiding slave traders in the caves. There are so many other interesting tales told about the cave and the locals are always willing to share these stories. The site has sufficient boundaries to protect its values from direct effects of human encroachment.

The Ogbunike Cave is certainly a place anyone would want to visit and explore, but there is a tradition that visitors must remove their shoes before entering the caves, and women who are having their monthly circle cannot go in.

IGBO-UKWU is an ancient town in Anambra and renowned cradle of Igbo civilization. The town has remained an attraction to tourists because of its bronze artefacts dating back to the 9th century A.D which was first discovered in 1938. The artefacts are kept in Igbo-Ukwu museum include vessels and pots, decorated staff heads, bronze snakes etc.

ROJENNY TOURIST VILLAGE, OBA is located along Onitsha/Owerri road. The tourist village provides exotic tropical atmosphere for relaxation, picnicking, cultural entertainment and nature conservation. It has a small game reserve with animals such as baboon, chimpanzee, crocodile, alligators, peacock, water turtle, python, eagle, lion, tortoise, hyena, hawk, green monkey etc.

AGULU LAKE is one of the nicest scenes to behold in Anambra state with the water stretching as far as the eyes can. The Lake has served as tourist center to foreigners, non-indigenes and students.

The Lake is located along Awka road in Agulu, Aniocha Local Government Area of the state.  It is home to an estimated three hundred crocodiles and water turtles. Fishing is not allowed on the lake. The crocodiles are sacred animals to the people, thus it is forbidden for them to be killed. It was said that these crocodiles were instrumental in delivering the town from soldiers during the civil war.

The story according to the natives was that these sacred crocodiles and turtles transformed themselves into beautiful ladies and lured the soldiers unaware into the lake where they disappeared without trace. At noon, the crocodiles and the turtles always come to the bank of the lake so as to enjoy sunlight.

OBU OFO-NRI MUSEUM is a private museum established by the Eze Nri of Enugwu-Ukwu. It has a wide range of collections of works of arts. Also, there are other craft shops and galleries in Nri where tourist can easily buy works of arts.

IKENGA VIRGIN FOREST is the only known virgin forest in Nigeria as the thick forest reserve has neither been cultivated nor its trees cut till date. It is a typical rainforest composed of tall evergreens, climbers and thick shrubs reputed to be the home of many species of animals that have gone extinct in other parts of the country.

ODINANI MUSEUM is at Nri village in Anaocha LGA, and it is sponsored by the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan. Its core collections include a wide range of sculptural works, paintings, carvings, pottery, traditional costumes, ancient war equipment and metal works.

OGBA WATERFALLS, OWERRE-EZUKALA is an impressive waterfall at Owerre Ezukala a border town in Anambra State, which shares boundaries with Imo, Abia and Enugu States. The waterfall is found in front of the Ogba Ukwu cave gushing out from a spring on top of the huge and imposing Ogba Rock. It forms an eternal stream at the foot of the cave, rains down forever. The amazing part of this scenic waterfall is that the water that falls on the heap of rock below forms a sparkling rainbow colour that leaves a tourist gaping in wonder. The enticing waterfall is better seen than described.

OKPU ANA NATURAL SPRING, UKPOR. This spring whose source is unknown simply gushes out of a large boulder embedded in a cliff and is regarded as the purest waters to be found anywhere. The spring forms a stream at the bottom, which has a beautiful bet of white clay, giving it an entirely surreal atmosphere.

Butu Lake, Omogho is an offshoot of the Odo River, covering a large 10 hectares of land and people come here all year round for fishing and excursions. The lake provides water for irrigation of nearby rice and vegetable farms during the dry season.