History Of Enugu State From Colonial Era To Present Day

History of Enugu State: From Colonial Era to Present Day

Enugu State is a state located in the southeastern part of Nigeria. It was established in 1991, and it has a rich history of Igbo culture, economy, and resistance against colonialism. The state is home to various ethnic groups, including the Igbos, Nkanus, and Agbadas.

Enugu State was formerly 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.

The first settlement in the Enugu area was the small Nike village of Ogui, which was present since the era of the Atlantic Slave Trade. Nike in the Igbo language means “with strength or power.” It was through slave raiding that the Nike people acquired most of their lands, which were mostly unsettled.

The town owes its existence to the discovery of coal on the plateau in 1909, which led to the building of Port Harcourt. With the completion of the railway from the port in 1916, Enugu developed rapidly.

Its name comes from the traditional Igbo (Ibo) words enu Ugwu, meaning “at the top of the hill.” Today, Enugu State is a significant commercial and industrial hub in Nigeria, with a vibrant culture and history that is worth exploring.

 

Geographical Overview

Location and Topography

Enugu State is located in the southeastern part of Nigeria and is situated at the foot of the Udi Plateau. The state shares borders with Abia State to the south, Ebonyi State to the east, Benue State to the northeast, Kogi State to the northwest, and Anambra State to the west. Enugu State covers an area of approximately 7,161 square kilometers and has a population of over 3 million people.

The topography of Enugu State is characterized by hills and valleys, with the Udi Plateau being the most prominent feature. The highest point in the state is the Ngwo Pine Forest Reserve, which has an elevation of 1,000 meters above sea level. The state is also home to several rivers, including the Oji River, which is the largest river in the state.

Climate and Vegetation

Enugu State has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons: the rainy season and the dry season. The rainy season lasts from April to October, while the dry season lasts from November to March. The average annual rainfall in the state is between 1,500 and 2,000 millimeters.

The vegetation in Enugu State is predominantly tropical rainforest, with some areas of savannah and grassland. The rainforest is characterized by tall trees, dense undergrowth, and a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, antelopes, and birds. The savannah and grassland areas are home to a variety of grazing animals, including cattle, sheep, and goats.

In summary, Enugu State is located in the southeastern part of Nigeria and is characterized by hills and valleys, with the Udi Plateau being the most prominent feature. The state has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons and is home to a variety of vegetation, including rainforest, savannah, and grassland.

 

Pre-Colonial History

Indigenous Peoples

Enugu State is located in the southeastern part of Nigeria and was originally inhabited by various indigenous peoples. These peoples included the Igbo, the Nri, and the Aro. The Igbo people are the largest ethnic group in the state and are known for their rich cultural heritage.

The Nri people were the first to establish a centralized political system in the area. They created the Kingdom of Nri, which was a theocracy ruled by a priest-king. The Nri were known for their advanced political and religious institutions, which were influential in the development of the Igbo culture.

The Aro people were a confederation of villages and towns that were united by a common religious system. They were known for their powerful oracle, which was consulted by people from all over the region. The Aro also had a strong commercial network, which helped to spread their influence throughout the area.

Early Settlements

Enugu State was also home to several early settlements, which were established by the indigenous peoples. These settlements were primarily agricultural and were located along the banks of the various rivers and streams in the area.

The people of these settlements were skilled farmers and were able to cultivate a variety of crops, including yams, cassava, and maize. They also raised livestock, such as goats and chickens, and were skilled in hunting and fishing.

Over time, these settlements grew into larger towns and villages, which became centers of trade and commerce. The people of these towns and villages developed their own unique cultures and traditions, which were influenced by the indigenous peoples of the area.

In summary, Enugu State has a rich pre-colonial history that is characterized by the presence of various indigenous peoples and early settlements. These peoples and settlements were known for their advanced political, religious, and commercial institutions, which were influential in the development of the Igbo culture.

 

Colonial Era and Independence

British Colonial Influence

Enugu State was a part of the British colonial territory of Nigeria, which was established in the late 19th century. The British colonial government had a significant impact on the region, introducing new forms of governance, education, and infrastructure. The colonial government established Enugu as a coal-mining town in 1917, which led to rapid economic growth and the development of the city.

The British colonial government also introduced new forms of governance, including the Native Authority system. The system was designed to allow traditional rulers to govern their communities while working with the colonial government. The Native Authority system helped to maintain the traditional authority structures while also providing a framework for cooperation with the colonial government.

Road to Independence

After gaining independence from British colonial rule in 1960, Nigeria was divided into three regions: Northern, Western, and Eastern. Enugu State was a part of the Eastern Region until May 1967 when the region was split into three states, including Enugu State.

Enugu State was officially created on August 27, 1991, when it was carved out of the old Anambra State. The state takes its name from its capital city, Enugu. The city acquired township status in 1917 and was called Enugwu-Ngwo. Due to the rapid expansion towards areas owned by other indigenous communities, it was renamed Enugu in 1929.

In summary, the British colonial government had a significant impact on Enugu State, introducing new forms of governance, education, and infrastructure. After gaining independence, Enugu State became a part of the Eastern Region before being carved out of the old Anambra State in 1991.

 

Post-Independence Developments

Political Evolution

After gaining independence in 1960, Enugu State was a part of the post-independence Eastern Region until May 1967 when the region was split and the area became part of the East Central State. The state has since undergone several political changes, including the creation of Anambra State in 1976, which led to the loss of some of its territory.

In 1991, Enugu State was recreated from the old Anambra State, and since then, it has remained a distinct political entity. The state has witnessed several political developments, including the emergence of new political parties and the election of new governors.

Economic Growth

Enugu State has experienced significant economic growth since its creation. The state is known for its abundant natural resources, including coal, iron ore, and limestone. The state’s economy is largely driven by agriculture, mining, and manufacturing.

In recent years, the state government has made efforts to diversify the economy by investing in other sectors such as tourism and hospitality. The state has also attracted several foreign investors, leading to the establishment of new businesses and industries.

Cultural Heritage

Enugu State is rich in cultural heritage, with several festivals and traditions celebrated throughout the year. The state is home to several ethnic groups, including the Igbo, who make up the majority of the population.

The state’s cultural heritage is reflected in its art, music, and cuisine. Enugu State is known for its traditional dishes, such as Nsala soup, Ofe Onugbu, and Abacha. The state is also home to several museums and cultural centers, which showcase the state’s rich cultural heritage.

Overall, Enugu State has undergone significant post-independence developments in its political, economic, and cultural spheres. The state’s abundant natural resources, diverse economy, and rich cultural heritage make it a unique and important part of Nigeria’s history and development.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the historical significance of Enugu in Nigerian history?

Enugu is a city in Nigeria that played a significant role in the country’s history. The city was the capital of the Eastern Region during Nigeria’s First Republic and was also the capital of the secessionist state of Biafra during the Nigerian Civil War. Enugu is also known for its coal mines, which were a major source of revenue for the country during the colonial period.

How did Enugu State come into existence and when was it created?

Enugu State was created on August 27, 1991, when the former Anambra State was divided into two. The state was named after its capital city, Enugu, which was also the capital of the former Eastern Region of Nigeria.

Which are the major historical events that shaped Enugu State?

Enugu State has a rich history that is shaped by several significant events. Some of these events include the discovery of coal in the area, the establishment of the city as the capital of the Eastern Region, and the city’s role as the capital of the secessionist state of Biafra during the Nigerian Civil War.

Who are the notable figures in the history of Enugu State?

Enugu State has produced several notable figures in Nigerian history, including former President of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who was born in Zungeru but grew up in Onitsha and Enugu. Other notable figures include Professor Chinua Achebe, one of Africa’s most celebrated authors, and former Governor of the state, Sullivan Chime.

What are the cultural and economic contributions of Enugu to Nigeria?

Enugu has made significant contributions to Nigeria’s cultural and economic development. The city is known for its rich cultural heritage, which is reflected in its music, dance, and art. Enugu is also an important commercial and industrial center, with industries such as coal mining, brewing, and agriculture.

How has the administrative structure of Enugu State evolved over time?

The administrative structure of Enugu State has evolved over time, with the state being divided into several local government areas. The state is currently divided into 17 local government areas, each with its own chairman and council. The state is also governed by a governor and a state assembly, which is responsible for making laws and policies for the state.

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