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Enugu State is a Nigerian state, located in the south-east region of the country with 17 local government areas. Enugu State was carved out of the old Anambra State in 27th August, 1991. The capital of Enugu State is Enugu (The word “Enugu” (from Enu Ugwu) means “the top of the hill”); the capital and largest city in the state, whose prominence arose as a result of being the first place coal was mined in commercial quantity in Nigeria (1909). It later became the administrative headquarters of Southern and Eastern Provinces (1929), Eastern Region (1954-1967), defunct State of Biafra during the Nigeria civil war (1967-1970), East Central State (1970-1976) and old Anambra State (1976-1991).The modern day Enugu State has been inhabited for years by various ethnic groups, primarily the Igbo people with minorities of Idoma and Igala peoples in Etteh Uno. In the pre-colonial period, what is now Enugu State was a part of the medieval Kingdom of Nri and the Arochukwu-based Aro Confederacy before the latter was defeated in the early 1900s by British troops in the Anglo-Aro War. After the war, the British incorporated the area into the Southern Nigeria Protectorate, which was later merged into British Nigeria in 1914. Of the 36 states of Nigeria, Enugu is the 29th largest in area and 22 most populous with an estimated population of 3,267.837 as of 2006 census. The name of the state derives from its capital city, Enugu, and nicknamed as “Coal City State” or “Wawa State”.

The major ethnic groups living in Enugu State are primarily the Igbos and minorities are Idoma and Igala. Economically, Enugu State is based around trading and services along with agriculture, mainly of yams, rice, cocoyam, oil palm, and cassava. A key minor industry was mining, especially of coal in the Udi Hills around the city of Enugu. Enugu State has the tenth highest Human Development Index in the country and is considered the heart of Igboland, the cultural region of ethnically Igbo areas. 

Festivals and Traditions

There are different festivals in Enugu state, aimed at celebrating their culture and heritage. These include;

• New Yam Festival: The annual yam festival is generally applied in communities in Enugu state though at different intervals, usually during harvest period (between July and November). It is celebrated in appreciation to Chukwuobioma (Gods of the land) for his protection all through the farming year till the harvest time. The celebration is widely believed to open ways for good health and a better farming year ahead. During the new yam, friends and families exchange yams that they harvested and also other agricultural products like livestock. The new yam festival in communities in Enugu state is largely associated with masquerade display, feasting, dancing and other cultural performances. It is expected that an indigene of Enugu state should not eat yam prior to the new yam festival of his community. The traditional rulers of various communities will first appease the God and then offer the new yam to them before he and other members of the community will then begin to eat the new yam in their respective homes.

• Ofala Festival: A Celebration of Royalty, This is the official cultural outing of the king and members of the cabinet in the year. The Ofala Festival is an annual ceremony practiced mostly by the Igbos of Anambra and Enugu state especially Onitsha, Nnewi, Agulueri and Ukpo, Mmaku etc. The festival serves as a rites of renewal of the king or Obi. The festival is celebrated within two days mostly in October by the Obi. The festival marks the end of a period of retreat
sometimes called Inye Ukwu na Nlo when the Obi remains incommunicado and undergoes spiritual purification for the good of the community. At the end of the week long retreat the Obi emerges during the Ofala to bless his subjects and say prayers for the community. Ofala is celebrated annually beginning from the coronation of the Obi to his death, the latter of which is called “the last Ofala.

• Coal City Film Festival: Coal City Film Festival celebrates the originality of African and world cinematic expressions in the city that arguably gave birth to the Nigerian Film industry otherwise known as Nollywood. Enugu State Nigeria has played integral role in hosting early filmmakers and provided locations in the beginning days of the largest film industry in Africa and has continued to do so; what other way to pay the state back, than assembling filmmakers from all over the world annually to this tourist city with so much historical and archaeological significance to Nigeria and Africa as a wide. The Festival founded by African Avat-garde filmmaker and Screenwriter, Uche Agbo, is an Okike Media initiative with the goal of serving as the gateway to the tourist potentials of South East Nigeria.

Mmanwu Festival: Igboland holds many festivities and cultural performances, most notably the masquerades and the new Yam festivals. Masquerades (Mmanwu) are held in accordance with the community native calendars during festivals, annual festivities, burial rites and other social gatherings. The masquerades are geared in colourful robes and masks made of wood or fabric. Some masks appear only at one festival, but the majority appears at many or all. Masquerades are associated with spiritual elements, as according to Igbo belief, they represent images of deities or sometimes even dead relatives. The identity of the masquerade is a well-kept secret and performed exclusively by men. In the past, masquerades were regarded as the means for maintaining peace and order and were primarily used as law enforcement agents. The whole village would come out for the ceremony of the colourful masquerades. While entertaining through dances and exhibiting extra-human feats, the masquerades would walk up to certain individuals and loudly expose any bad habits, crimes or misbehavior of that person. As people would always take corrections from these exposures, the masquerades were effective in keeping up with traditional norms and values in the communities. There are annual masquerade festival in most Igbo communities called ogbako Mmanwu (gathering of masquerades) where masquerades gather in village squares or open filed to entertain people. Notable among the masquerade festival is the annual Masquerade Festivals in November organised by Enugu State which involves masquerade groups from various parts of the state.

• Iwa Akwa Festival: The Iwa-Akwa festival is one of the most beautiful Igbo festivals which is celebrated within 3 years interval. The Iwa-Akwa festival is a cultural heritage of the people of Okigwe senatorial district of Imo State and Enugu west senatorial district of Enugu State, mainly celebrated by the people of Ugbo in Enugu State. This is one of the beautiful cultures that has refused to die despite the claims of Christianity which has wiped other beautiful cultures. It also attracts so many tourists both from within and outside Nigeria. The Iwa-akwa festival is a ceremony where young men who has come of age are been initiated into manhood and given the opportunities to make their contributions in social cultural and political affairs of the community. In this stage of life they can now sit with elders, wine, dine, discuss issues as it affects the community and suggests solutions.

• Omabe Festival: There was celebration galore at Imufu autonomous community in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State, as the community marked its Omabe festival. The festival which witnessed the display of the people’s culture, attracted tourists from far and near, even as the sons and daughters of the community returned to identify with and socialise with friends. In parts of Igbo land, Omabe masquerades have been in existence for several centuries and they are seen as a sacred club for adult males alone as it is a taboo for a woman to come near the masquerade, as some of them are believed to possess some mystical powers.

• Omabe Festival: Ekpe festival is a masquerade festival celebrated mainly by the Igbos of Abia state, Rivers state and Nkanu people of Enugu state. Unlike the Mmanwu festival which is the gathering of tens and thousands of different masquerades, this masquerade festival particularly celebrates the Ekpe masquerades. Ekpe festival is a lively cultural festival that attracts people from in and outside the state. The Ekpe festival has existed for millenniums and involves so many kinds of Ekpe masquerades performing different kinds of cultural dance. Here, male and female (old and young) dress in their cultural attire, the male must tie a piece of George (wrapper) to make up for the cultural attire. Male children who have been initiated into Ekpe masquerade, and are skilled in playing the cultural music, show their expertise in their culture while the masquerade performs the dancing. People appreciate the performances of the masquerade, players and other individual dancers by donating money to them while the music is on. The apex of the cultural festival is when the Ekpe Masquerade will use a cutlass and behead a goat at a strike.

• Odo Festival: Odo is a term used to describe the returning of the dead who spend up to six months with the living during the festival. The Odo festival is celebrated among the northern Igbos of Enugu state especially among the Nsukka and the Udi people. The Odo appear as male and female masked figures played by men who are members of the death cult society, and whose identity is required to keep secret. The Odo are first welcomed back with celebrations, and then make visits to their former homes, which result in more entertainment and gift giving. Their departure is a sad one, and engages the community in an emotional leave taking event before the Odo`s journey back. This long festival is a celebration that requires extensive preparations and sacrifice for the community. Women are heavily involved in food preparation and performances as chorus members as well as audience. The creation of costumes and masks with plant fiber, leaves, beads, and feathers, although more durable cloth costumes are becoming more common in contemporary Odo plays. A musical accompaniment, featuring xylophones, drums, and rattles, which is known as obilenu music, meaning “that which lies above.” the development of these music groups and plays are all done in a sacred area outside of the central village where the Odo performers reside and help train new initiates to the cult. Tribal relatives from distant communities will renew their contact with their roots by spending long periods with their family while enjoying the dramatic presentations of the Odo characters. The transformation of the dead in Odo characters involve guttural speaking and large movements.
Odo Festival.

• Igwa Nshi Festival: Igwa nshi is a festival celebrated in Eke, udi LGA of Enugu. It’s a celebration that reminds heroes of the past victories against neighboring towns, during the festivals villages that make up the town always converge at the village square with their drums to entertain the guest. The events last for eight days.

Ede Festival: Ede festival also called Ede aro festival by the Abagana people of Anambra state is an annual cultural festival celebrated mostly by the Igbo people of Anambra and Enugu State. Celebrated during the harvest of cocoyam. The Ede festival is a very colourful festival that celebrates the cocoyam, Women believes that if sowing and harvesting of yam which is reserved for the males are celebrated, sowing and harvesting of cocoyam which is reserved for the female should also be celebrated.

Tourists Attractions and Locations

• Awhum waterfall: Awhum waterfall is located within Amaugwe village of Awhum town close to Awhum Monastery in Udi Local Government Area. The waterfall flows from a massive outcrop of granite rock with water cascading over the top forming a stream. The fall is about 30 metres high and is believed to be therapeutic. Surrounded by a breath-taking scenery, a part of the fall is warm all year round and a variety of bird species can be spotted within the area. This is one of the mysterious tourist attractions in Enugu as the waterfall is believed to have healing powers. One of the reasons which informed this belief is because waterfall sits in the confines of the Awhum monastery. Thus, it is not just a tourist center, but it is also a pilgrimage destination for religious people. The waterfall is formed out of a massive projection of granite rock with water cascading over the top to form a stream, and some part of it is usually warm through the seasons.

• Milken Hills: The Milken hills located at Ngwo in Enugu North LGA was named after one of the earliest colonial administrator in Enugu. The hill offers a spectacular view of Enugu Metropolis especially at dawn and dusk. The first tarred road leading into Enugu city passes through the foot of the hill. The hills is rich in coal and several tunnels can be found underneath. The Iva Valley lies beneath the Milken hills, and tourist can enjoy mountaineering activities.

• Ngwo Pine Forest and Caves: Surrounded by the beautiful trees of Ngwo Pine Forest, the valley floors feature gently flowing stream of spring water. Ngwo Cave was naturally formed in limestone by the waterfall dropping down from a small opening at the roof of the cave. Being in Enugu and not visiting the pristine Ngwo Pine forest and caves would be missing out on a fantastic experience, the pine forest is like a gateway to the caves.There, you would find so many pine trees arranged in symmetry that will remind you of a love scene in the woods. Moving on past the pine forest, you would meet the Ngwo cave, which is naturally sculpted in limestone and is adorned by an enchanting waterfall pouring from an opening at the roof of the cave. The waterfall forms a shallow pool at the floor of the cave and flows out as a small stream. There are smaller caves within the large cave that could be climbed into and explored.

• Ezeagu Cave:Ihuezi Cave Ezeagu, popularly referred to as Ezeagu cave is located in Obinofia Ndiuno community in Ezeagu Enugu state, the cave which is located with the Ezeagu tourist complex is one of the most populous cave in Enugu state. The Ezeagu cave with about seven chambers and tunnels can be accessed through two outer chambers. Since no one has ever seen the end of the cave it is believed that most of the tunnels in the cave lead to other communities in and outside the local government.

• Iyi Nzu Waterfall: Iyi Nzu Waterfall is one of many waterfalls in Enugu state, Located in Ezimo, Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu state. Iyi Nzu waterfall is one of the tallest waterfall in the state although not as popular as that of Awhum, Ezeagu and Ngwo.

• OgbaNgwu Natural Pool and Waterfall: Located down the valley of Obeagu and Ugbo, The Ogba Ngwu waterfalls Are two different waterfalls located within the OgbaNwgu Forest in Obeagu, the waterfalls is situated along the Oyibo Obeagu road at the upper end of Oji, One of the major rivers in Ugbo. The Waterfall area is adorn with beautiful rock formations an small caves.

• Obialu Ohuu Waterfall: Known as Obialu Ohuu, Mmaku Afam fall is is one of the highest waterfall in Mmaku, located in Afam. The waterfall is surrounded by beautiful rock formations and beautiful trees providing perfect shades for visitors to the area. The obialu Ohuu waterfall is a place worthy of visit. Whenever you explore Mmaku, make sure to visit the waterfall.

• Akpugoeze Monkeys: Monkeys at Akpugoeze are preserved due to the tradition and culture of the people in the community. The people of Akpugoeze do not harm, hunt or eat monkeys. The Sclater’s monkey found in Akpugoeze is a rare species that can only be found in south-eastern Nigeria.

• Iheneke Lake: Located in Obinofia Ndiuno in Ezeagu local Government area of Enugu State. Iheneke is a tropical lake with maximum density during the warmest season. During the rainy season, the lake is said cools and then cools further as harmattan advances. Iheneke is the second most visited lake in Enugu state after the nike lake, and a very lovely place to rest and relaxation.

• Nike Lake Enugu: Nike Lake is the most popular lake in Enugu state and one of the most popular in Nigeria, Located in the town of Nike in Enugu East Local Government area of Enugu State. Nike Lake was made popular as a result of the Nike Lake resort and hotel built within the lake environment. The Nike Lake resort and hotel serves as an ideal spot for leisure and picnicking.

• Ogelube Lake: Ogelube lake is a fresh water lake dominated by desmid phytoplankton with maximum density during warmer season. However, during the rainy season, the lake cools and there are more algae than desmids.

• Silicon Hill: Silicon hill is situated near the Nkalagu campus of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT). The hill lies at more than 300m above sea level, it is rich in the mineral deposit called Silicon. The environment surrounding the hill is scenic and has captivating valleys and plains.

• Ikirike Hill, Idaw River: Ikirike hill is one of the numerous hills in Enugu, although not the most popular of all the hills in the state. Ikirike hill has become one of the most popular choice location for group and individual who wants to go for picnic, hiking or camping.

• Akwuke–Atakwu Hills: Although this place is a little difficult to get to, but if you want to have a picnic in a quiet and one of the most beautiful hill top in Enugu. This is the place to go. This hilltop can be accessed through Akwuke or Atakwu. Nicknamed Edu-Abiola Hill.

• Nwa Ekpu Forest: Hidden inside the valley of Nwaekpu Forest in Ezioha Mmaku, Nwaekpu fall is about 45 to 60 minutes walk from Ajaba and can be accessed through Ugbo Mmaku road. while at the forest, to the to the waterfall, you have to walk down or climb down the stone bridge and walking through the water part way to get to the fall area. At the bottom of the fall is a pool formed As the water cascade down the rock and with the aid of the surrounding conney shaped rock it creates a part way for the water to escape from. This Waterfall is truly a beauty to behold, and a perfect romantic spot but i wont advice that.

• Ululo Dam Ugbo: This is a waterside that one can go for those who look to have their picnic at a waterside. Located in the town of Ugbo in Awgu, this place is one of the most ideal place for picnic on Enugu. While here, you can also explore and learn about the people.

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