His Royal Highness, Igwe Kenneth Orizi III of Nnewi, in this interview with Echezona Okafor, speaks on some salient issues concerning the popular Nnewi community of Anambra State
Could we know a little of the origin history of Nnewi ancient kingdom?
Sometime in the 14th Century AD, Digbo, a warrior prince of Nnewi, migrated from Arochukwu, who, having displaced the people inhabiting the land, settled with his entourage in the place now called Nnewi. He had four sons namely: Otolo, Uruagu, Umudim and Nnewichi – in the order of seniority.
What is Nnewi known for, in terms of its culture, tradition and rich festivals, and artifacts?
Traditionally, Nnewi people do not eat pythons (Eke), and rabbits (Ewi); based on ancient mythology. The town worships a common female deity called Edo. Apart from-Ofala Igwe and Afiaolu Festivals in Nnewi, there are other cultural festivals such as Igu Aro, Ikwu Aru, Igba Ota and Isi Ebili. Apart from Edo deity, Nnewi people have other deities such as Ezemewi, Ele, Ogwugwu, Ana and Ulasi. There are numerous artifacts and monuments at their various shrines.
Why is Nnewi described as a one-town local government area in Nigeria?
The constitution of the country stipulates that Nigeria is made up of 774 local governments. Nnewi town is one town that constitutes one of the named 774 local governments.
In Nnewi, most people are being recognised as princes and princesses, especially in Otolo. Why is this so?
In Nnewi, only the sons and daughters of the traditional rulers are called or recognised as princes and princesses. Nnewi is, however, made up of 25 villages, each administered by sub-Obi or Isi-Obi, and some of the sons and daughters of these Isi- Obis call themselves princes or princesses.
What is the significance of Afiaolu festival in Nnewi?
Afiaolu Festival in Nnewi is not the same thing as Ofala Festival of Igwe Nnewi. Afiaolu Festival is usually held in August every year to mark the end of the farming season, and the beginning of the harvesting season, and eating of the new yam. Ofala Igwe Nnewi is usually held December 28 of every year; usually to celebrate another milestone in the life of the Igwe. The focus of the Ofala Festival is on the Igwe; whereas Afiaolu is a general affair of the entire community.
Nnewi is described as the industrial hub of the South-East. Why that claim?
There are over 20 small, medium and large scale industries in Nnewi. There is no bank in Nigeria without a branch in Nnewi servicing these industries. Many non-indigenes from all over Nigeria live and find gainful employments in Nnewi. It is because of these facts that Nnewi is described as the industrial hub of the South-East.
What is the secret of entrepreneurship prowess of the average Nnewi indigene?
The average Nnewi indigene is egalitarian, independent-minded and hardworking. Nnewi people believe that they have the Nkwo Nnewi, where people go for apprenticeship for between five to seven years; after which the apprentice is settled by his master, given a shop and some goods, and he becomes his own master.
The matter is replicated as the new master takes on other apprentices and the whole thing goes on and on. There is hardly any town in Nigeria where an Nnewi man is not trading in spare parts.
What is your economic projection of Nnewi cosmopolitan city in the next 10 years, considering population explosion and influx of economic activities in the town?
Nnewi has already become cosmopolitan because of the many industries and businesses that have attracted many non indigenes into the town. The foundation has been well laid and I will project a continuous and steady growth in the economy of the town, as much as 50% growth, in the next 10 years.