Onitsha (Igbo: Ọ̀nị̀chà Mmílí[4] or simply Ọ̀nị̀chà) is a city on the eastern bank of the Niger River, in Anambra State, Nigeria. A metropolitan city, Onitsha is known for its river port and as an economic hub for commerce, industry, and education. It hosts the Onitsha Main Market, the largest market in Africa in terms of geographical size and volume of goods.

Ọ̀nị̀chà Mmílí
Port City
From top to left to right: Onitsha GRA, iconic mansions, Harbour Industrial Layout, Onitsha International Market, Onitsha aerial view, Second Niger Bridge.
Port City, Onitsha(Osha), Otu, Otu Nkwo
Eastern/Nigeria Hub For Economic Activities
Anthem: "With all our hearts, We Pray and ask"
Onitsha is located in Nigeria
Location of Onitsha in Nigeria
Onitsha is located in Africa
Onitsha (Africa)
Coordinates: 6°10′N 6°47′E / 6.167°N 6.783°E / 6.167; 6.783
Country Nigeria
StateAnambra State
LGA(s)[note 1]
List of LGAs
Settled15th century
Incorporated city19th century
 • TypeConstitutional Monarchy, Executive Chairman Local Government Council
 • Constitutional MonarchyObi of Onitsha Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, "Agbogidi"
 • Executive ChairmanPatrick Agha-Mba Onitsha North
Emeka Asoanya Onitsha South
 • Anambra North Senatorial District, OnitshaStella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi
 • Metropolis52 km2 (20 sq mi)
 • Land36.12 km2 (13.95 sq mi)
 • Water0.067 km2 (0.026 sq mi)
 • Urban
1,965 km2 (759 sq mi)
 • Metro
1,965 km2 (759 sq mi)
 • Metropolis1,080,000
 • Demonym
Onye Onicha (singular)
Ndi Onicha (plural) (Igbo)
Time zoneUTC+1 (WAT)
Area code046

As of 2016, Onitsha had an estimated city proper population of 2,080,000 people.[2] As of early 2022, Onitsha has a rising estimated population at 3,553,000.[5] The indigenous people of Onitsha are Igbos and speak the Igbo language. The Onitsha people are referred to as Ndi Onicha.[4]

Founding and settlement Edit

Obi of Onitsha, Alfred Achebe

Onitsha Ado na Idu was originally known as Onitsha Mmili.[6] The people of Onitsha original lived in communities scattered across Western Igbo (Delta and Edo states) and emigrated to the place called Onitsha today where they established a community.

After their arrival on the east bank (Onicha-mmili, "Onitsha-on-water", see above), the community gradually became a unitary kingdom, evolving from a loosely organized group of "royal" villages (Umu Ezechima) to encompass "non-royal" villages (Onicha Ebo Itenani).

Modern history Edit

The famous Niger River and Niger Bridge defines Onitsha as the gateway to the Igbo heartland.

Onitsha slowly grew to become an important trading port for the Royal Niger Company in the mid-1850s following the abolition of slavery and with the development of the steam engine when Europeans were able to move into the hinterland.

Trade in palm kernels, palm oil, and other cash crops on the coast of the Bight of Biafra increased around this river port in the 19th century.

In 1857 British palm oil traders established a permanent station in the city with Christian missionaries joining them, headed by the liberated African bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther (a Yoruba recaptive) and Reverend John Taylor (an Igbo recaptive).[7]

In 1900 Onitsha became part of a British protectorate.[8] The British colonial government and Christian missionaries penetrated most of Igboland to set up their administration, schools and churches through the river port at Onitsha.

In 1965, the Niger River Bridge was built across the Niger River to replace the ferry crossing. This has helped to grow trade routes with western Nigeria and created significant economic linkages between Onitsha and Benin City and Lagos particularly.[9][10]

The Nigerian-Biafran war brought devastation to Onitsha as the city was a major theatre of war for forces entering Biafra from the western front. The subsequent oil boom years of the 1970s and early 1980s witnessed a huge influx of immigrants into the city. The result has been hastily constructed and haphazard building which has created a huge number of slums.[11]

People and culture Edit

The Ofala Festival held once a year is a celebration of Onitsha tradition and culture.

Onitsha traditionally consists of nine villages, otherwise known as Ebo Itenani. These are descendants of the progenitor Umuezechima comprising Isiokwe, Olosi, Umuezearoli (Umuaroli, Ogbendida and Ogbeoza), Okebunabo (Umudei, Ogbeabu, Ogbeodogwu, Ogbembubu), Obikporo and Ogbeotu, Awada (Ogbeozoma), Obamkpa (Umuasele, Iyiawu and Odoje Ndugbe) and Odoje (Odumegwu Gbuagu), Ubulu na Ikem (Umuikem), Ulutu, Ubene, Ogboli Eke, Obior and Ogbeotu. Within these groupings, there are six administrative wards namely Okebunabo, Umuezearoli, Ogbeolu, Isiokwe na Ogboli Olosi, Obamkpa and Eke na Ubene.

Umuaroli Ogbendida Ogbeozoma Isiokwe
Ogboli-Eke Ogboli-Olosi Umudei Ogbembubu/Ogbeabu
Ogbeodogwu Obikporo Ogbeotu Umuasele
Odoje Umuikem Mgbelekeke Iyiawu

Onitsha operates a traditional government headed by the Obi, the titular head of the town who is assisted by Ndi Ichie, titled red cap elders or chiefs. Among these are Ndi Ichie Ume, who are the First Class Chiefs. The Ndi Ichie are classified into six, namely: Onowu Iyasele, Ajie Ukadiugwu, Odu Osodi, Onya Ozoma, Ogene Onira and Owelle Osowa, with Onowu Iyasele as the traditional Prime Minister. There are also other Ndi Ichie, who are ranked second class, known as Ndi Okwa and third class, known as Ndi Ichie Okwareze. The Ndi Ichie serve as Council of Advisers to the Obi who solicits their advice in major decisions he makes in the Kingdom.

When the ruling Obi joins his ancestors, the Onowu Iyasele takes charge until a new Obi is enthroned.[citation needed]

Once a year in October the kingdom of Onitsha holds the Ofala Festival which coincides with the traditional New Yam festival held in many parts of Igboland. The Ofala Festival in ancient times offered the people the opportunity to see the king and receive blessings from him. Nowadays, it is a way for the people of Onitsha to keep their culture alive, take stock of the communal activities and it has become a major event that draws visitors from far and wide to the city.[12]

Geography Edit

Onitsha lies at a major east–west crossing point of the Niger River and occupies the northernmost point of the river regularly navigable by large vessels. These factors have historically made Onitsha a major center for trade between the coastal regions and the north, as well as between eastern and western Nigeria. Onitsha possesses one of the very few road bridge crossings of the mile-wide Niger River[13][14] and plans are in place to add a second bridge near it.

Rapid urbanization in recent years negatively affects natural vegetation and local landscape.[15]

Climate Edit

Onitsha has two seasons, the wet season, which is warm, oppressive, and overcast, and the dry season that is hot, muggy, and partly cloudy. Over the length of the year, the temperature commonly varies from 67 °F to 88 °F and is commonly below 59 °F or above 92 °F.[16]

Urbanization Edit

In the early 1960s, before the Nigerian Civil War (see also Biafra), the population was officially recorded as 76,000, and the town was distinctive in a number of dimensions; the great Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe (born and raised in the contiguous town of Ogidi) characterized it as harboring an "esoteric region from which creativity sallies forth at will to manifest itself," "a zone of occult instability" (see "Onitsha Matters").

GRA Onitsha
the residential neighborhood of Onitsha GRA

Indeed, Onitsha has played a creative role in the transformation to urban life in Eastern Nigeria famous as the setting for Onitsha Market Literature and as one of the hubs for the financing and distribution of Nollywood films.[17]

However, infrastructure has not kept pace with urbanization and haphazard building practices without zoning regulations has left in its wake a chaotic and congested city rife with lawlessness. The World Health Organization Global Urban Ambient Air Pollution database's 2016 update indicates that Onitsha is the most polluted city in Africa.[18][19]

In recent times with the encroachment of neighboring communities, the Onitsha people have been involved in disputes over land ownership in the surrounding area with the people of Obosi and Nkwelle Ezunaka.[20][21] Fegge, Awada, and 3-3 are Onitsha metropolitan areas being disputed by the communities of Obosi and Nkwelle Ezunaka, respectively.

Onitsha Skyline

Economy Edit

Harbor Industrial Layout of Onitsha

In 2012 the state government, through a joint venture, attracted SAB Miller to invest in Onitsha Brewery, which started production in August. It was the first large-scale investment in Onitsha since Premier Breweries, makers of the Premier Beer established production in Onitsha in the early part of the 1980s. In January it was announced that upgrades to the value of $110 million would triple the output of beer and malt drinks.[22]

Transport Edit

Onitsha is not only accessible by rivers and land, but also by air. The city has an international cargo and passenger airport located at Umueri.

Religion and politics Edit

Onitsha is a predominantly Christian city. Islam is also practiced in the city by people from Northern and Western Nigeria. In February 2006, armed militants killed at least 24 ethnic Hausa Fulani (Muslims) and burned a few Muslim sites, including two mosques.[23][24][25] The riots were in response to riots by Muslims in the city of Maiduguri days earlier, where at least 18 Christians were killed, sparked by the cartoon controversy in Denmark.

Environmental issues Edit

Waste management Edit

There is improper disposal of solid waste in the metropolis resulting in poor sanitary conditions. The amount of waste generation is attributed to the city's high population being a commercial area that draws in people from within and outside Nigeria for business purposes. They generate mostly food waste, polythene bags, paper and its related wastes and metal. Others are pieces of clothes, plastic, tins, bottles and glass materials.[26] Households dispose solid waste in unauthorized places such as the road, water and its channels, dump stands and near dumpsites. This waste disposal attitude is due to inadequate provision of solid waste management facilities, poor accessibility to dumpsite, social, moral and economic factors.[27] Awka, the capital of Anambra state generates more than 400 tons of solid waste daily, with only 30 percent collected. The volume varies for other commercial cities in the state such as Onitsha on a daily basis.[28][29]

Air pollution Edit

In 2016, PM10 levels exceeded the WHO's standard by 30 times.[30][31]

Noise pollution Edit

The city's noise levels exceeds the federal ministry of environment stipulated limits of 90 dB (A) and that of NESREA's 70 dB (A) for an 8-hour working period, varying in dry season and wet seasons.[32] High noise levels are experienced mainly around major junctions and market places such as Onitsha main market and new spare parts market. The market noise emanates from the use of grinding machines, public address systems, generators, bell ringing and shouting by traders. Whereas, that of the major junctions result from transportation activities and vehicular traffic around Iweka flyover, Belewa junction, old and new market road junction, old Nkisi road and Nkpor junction.[32]

Water pollution Edit

The city's vast surface water, shallow subsurface water, and permeable soils put it at high risk of water pollution. This is compounded by the industry density in the area ranging from food/beverage, chemical, pharmaceutical, textile, wood, leather to automobile/miscellaneous assembly industries that generates different waste forms. The city's surface and sub-surface water is polluted by heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, zinc, copper, and iron. This pollution originates mainly from effluent discharge from industries, refuse dump sites, fuel/diesel from filling stations and vehicle exhaust fumes and hospitals. The distribution of industries close to the location of River Niger and nwangene stream contributes to the pollution of these waterbodies.[citation needed][33]

Twin towns Edit

Onitsha is twinned with:

Notable people Edit

The Onitsha people were among the first Igbo to embrace western education,[36] producing notable people like Bishop Alphonsus Chukwuma Onyeabo, Order of the British Empire, 1879–1954, and the main contributor of the English to Igbo bible,[37] Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Owele of Onicha, Zik of Africa, and the first president of the post-independent Nigeria.

See also Edit

Notes Edit

  1. ^ Main and Metropolitan Onitsha consists of 2 and 7 of Anambra State's 21 LGAs, Respectively.
  2. ^ Only Onitsha, Fegge, Woliwo, Odoakpu, American Quarters and Inland Town

References Edit

  1. ^ UN Habitat (2009). Structure Plan for Onitsha and Satellite Towns. UN-HABITAT. ISBN 978-92-1-132117-3. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
  2. ^ a b Onitsha Nigeria at the Encyclopædia Britannica
  3. ^ "Nipost Postcode Map". Nigerian Postal Service. Archived from the original on 2012-11-26. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  4. ^ a b Okanga, Eloka Chijioke Paul Nwolisa (2003). Njepu amaka--migration is rewarding: a sociocultural anthropological study of global economic migration. Peter Lang. p. 63. ISBN 0-8204-6090-7.
  5. ^ "Onitsha, Nigeria Metro Area Population 1950-2022". www.macrotrends.net. Retrieved 2022-03-08.
  6. ^ Areh, Austin (2019-02-12). "History Of Onitsha Indigenes". Welcome To InlandTown Online | Get hot information on Onitsha. Retrieved 2022-03-13.
  7. ^ Taylor, Crowther & (2010) [1859]. The Gospel on the Banks of the Niger: Journals and Notices of the Native Missionaries Accompanying the Niger Expedition of 1857–1859. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-108-01184-6..
  8. ^ Anene, J. C. (1966). Southern Nigeria in Transition 1885–1906. Cambridge University Press. pp. 212–213.
  9. ^ "With New Funding, Second Niger Bridge Offers Hope of Economic Revolution". The Business Year. 30 December 2018. Retrieved 2020-02-07.
  10. ^ "Onitsha | Hometown.ng™". Retrieved 2020-01-22.
  11. ^ "About Onitsha". onitshacitymarathon.com. Retrieved 2020-01-22.
  12. ^ "Obi of Onitsha Commends Glo for Supporting Ofala Festival - THISDAYLIVE". www.thisdaylive.com. Retrieved 2023-06-10.
  13. ^ "The second Niger Bridge". The Daily Sun. 2007-02-20. Retrieved 2007-04-06.
  14. ^ "Britannica". Retrieved 2008-10-02.
  15. ^ Nwaogu, Chukwudi; Okeke, Onyedikachi J.; Fadipe, Olusola O.; Bashiru, Kehinde A.; Pechanec, Vilém (2017). "Is Nigeria losing its natural vegetation and landscape? Assessing the land use-landcover change trajectories and effects in Onitsha using remote sensing and GIS". Open Geosciences. 9 (1): 707–718. Bibcode:2017OGeo....9...53N. doi:10.1515/geo-2017-0053.
  16. ^ "Climate and Average Weather Year Round in Onitsha Nigeria".
  17. ^ Madichie, Nnamdi; Nkamnebe, Anayo (2010-11-01). "51 Iweka Road (Onitsha, Nigeria): Could this single African address redefine business cluster development?". World Review of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development. 6 (3): 229–243. doi:10.1504/WREMSD.2010.036677.
  18. ^ "A New Air Pollution Database Is Good, but Imperfect | Data-Driven Yale". datadriven.yale.edu. Retrieved 2016-11-25.
  19. ^ Cunningham, Anna (October 22, 2018). "Amid Staggering Pollution, Nigerians Struggle to Catch Their Breath". Undark. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  20. ^ Vincent Ujumadu (June 17, 2013). "17 injured, bus burnt as Onitsha, Obosi youths clash over land". Vanguard. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  21. ^ Nigeria: "Nkwelle-Ezunaka Battles Onitsha Over Land". Nkwelle Ezunaka Union USA. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
  22. ^ "SAB Miller investing $110 m to triple Onitsha brewery capacity". Retrieved 28 February 2014.
  23. ^ "Scores killed in Nigeria riots". Al Jazeera. 2006-02-23.
  24. ^ "Toll rises in Nigeria sectarian riots". Al Jazeera. 2006-02-24.
  25. ^ Timberg, Craig (2006-02-24). "Nigerian Christians Burn Corpses". The Washington Post. pp. A10. Retrieved 2007-04-06.
  26. ^ Nwachukwu M. U. (December 2010). "Solid Waste Generation and Disposal in a Nigerian City: An Empirical Analysis in Onitsha Metropolis". Journal of Environmental Management and Safety. 1 (1): 180–191 – via Researchgate.
  27. ^ Chibueze, Paul. "Solid waste disposal attitudes in Onitsha, Anambra state". Academia.
  28. ^ "Anambra spends about N1.5bn annually on solid waste management ― Official". Vanguard News. 2021-02-10. Retrieved 2022-03-04.
  29. ^ "Aba, Onitsha bogged by environmental degradation". The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News. 2016-12-11. Retrieved 2022-03-11.
  30. ^ Phoebe Parke. "World's most polluted city by air is in ... Nigeria". CNN. Retrieved 2022-03-02.
  31. ^ "Welcome to Onitsha: the city with the world's worst air". The Guardian. 2017-02-13. Retrieved 2022-03-02.
  32. ^ a b Chris Onyeka Ekweozor; Johnbosco Emeka Umunnakwe; Leo O Osuji; Vincent C Weli (October 2021). "Noise Pollution in Onitsha Metropolis: Challenges and Solution". Open Access Research Journal of Engineering and Technology. 1 (2): 32–40. doi:10.53022/oarjet.2021.1.2.0110 – via Researchgate.
  33. ^ "Accumulation_of_Cadmium_Cd_and_Lead_Pb_in_the_Niger_River_and_Environs". Journal of Scientific Research and Reports.
  34. ^ "Sister Cities of Compton". comptonsistercities.org. Archived from the original on 2016-01-23. Retrieved 2013-07-02.
  35. ^ Mejia Lutz, Elena (June 26, 2017). "Indy partners with Nigerian city for business, cultural exchange". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved June 26, 2017.
  36. ^ Ubah, C. N (1980). "Western Education in Africa : The Igbo Experience, 1900-1960". Comparative Education Review. 24 (3): 371–388. doi:10.1086/446154. JSTOR 1187793. S2CID 143942714.
  37. ^ "igbohistory". www.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2022-03-17.
  38. ^ "Onyedika Chuke: The Forever Museum Archive_Circa 6000BCE". LMCC. Retrieved 2023-05-22.
  39. ^ Ogbechie, Sylvester Okwunodu (2008). Ben Enwonwu: The Making of an African Modernist. University Rochester Press. ISBN 978-1-58046-235-8.
  40. ^ Transafrican Journal of History. East African Publishing House. 1986.
  41. ^ "Once unknown Nigerian 'masterpiece' by Ben Enwonwu up for sale". BBC News. 2020-10-08. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  42. ^ Kimeria, Ciku (27 July 2019). "How a Texas family discovered they owned a forgotten Ben Enwonwu portrait valued at $200,000". Quartz. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  43. ^ "There was once a bench". The Guardian Nigeria News - Nigeria and World News. 2017-01-05. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  44. ^ "Lawyers from childhood's fantasy planet". The Sun Nigeria. 2020-03-07. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  45. ^ Newswatch. Newswatch Communications Limited. 2008.
  46. ^ Who's who in Nigeria. Newswatch. 1990. ISBN 978-978-2704-12-2.
  47. ^ Africa Who's who. Africa Journal Limited. 1991. ISBN 978-0-903274-17-3.
  48. ^ "Igbo, Yoruba fight over maths". Vanguard News. 2018-04-21. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  49. ^ "Towards a Peaceful Gubernatorial Election in Anambra, By Chisom J. Omeokachie - Premium Times Opinion". 2017-10-07. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  50. ^ "ASIKA'S VISION, RENASCENT BIAFRA AND IGBOS (1)". THISDAYLIVE. 2019-09-17. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  51. ^ "Onitsha priests and Crowther Memorial School". The Sun Nigeria. 2018-11-21. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  52. ^ "Emmanuel Ifeajuna: from Commonwealth Games gold to the firing squad". the Guardian. 2014-07-12. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  53. ^ "Emmanuel Ifeajuna: A Natural Spring". Vanguard News. 2018-06-09. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  54. ^ The News. Independent Communications Network Limited. 2008.
  55. ^ "My father scuttled my ambition to become a soldier — Olisa Agbakoba". Punch Newspapers. 2018-04-22. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  56. ^ "Behold the 2014 class of Nigeria national conference | Premium Times Nigeria". 2014-03-17. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  57. ^ "5 things to know about Super Eagles forward Henry Onyekuru". Pulse Nigeria. 2018-11-09. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  58. ^ "Who is Henry Onyekuru? We profile the Nigerian striker wanted by Arsenal". Sky Sports. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  59. ^ "Onyekuru reveals why he chose Everton over PSG". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  60. ^ "Arsenal youngster keen to play for Nigeria, father insists". Pulse Nigeria. 2015-02-24. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  61. ^ "Super Eagles tame Lions of Cameroon 3-2 in AFCON 2019". Vanguard News. 2019-07-06. Retrieved 2021-06-29.
  62. ^ chuku, gloria (2011-01-01), Akyeampong, Emmanuel K; Gates, Henry Louis (eds.), "Nwagboka", Dictionary of African Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acref/9780195382075.001.0001, ISBN 978-0-19-538207-5, retrieved 2022-03-17
  63. ^ "Tony Nwoye Archives". Vanguard News. Retrieved 2022-03-17.
  64. ^ chuku, gloria (2011-01-01), Akyeampong, Emmanuel K; Gates, Henry Louis (eds.), "Okala, Janet", Dictionary of African Biography, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acref/9780195382075.001.0001, ISBN 978-0-19-538207-5, retrieved 2022-03-17
  65. ^ "UNN Staff Profile". www.unn.edu.ng. Retrieved 2022-03-17.
  66. ^ InlandTown (2021-01-27). "Wednesday Woman Personality: Flora Azikiwe". Welcome To InlandTown Online | Get hot information on Onitsha. Retrieved 2022-03-18.
  67. ^ Ed Keazor (2016-06-29). "Celebrating Ajie Anthony Ukpabi Asika CFR @80".
  68. ^ "Francis OBIKWELU". World Athletics. Retrieved 2022-03-19.

Further reading Edit