Culled from the book:
Written by Engr. Victor Chinweze
~Ubachukwu ka mma, Awka.
Phone: +234 8033063948
THE ADRIFTNESS OF THE GENERATIONAL HANDOVER
Awka of the time past grew in fame and wonder beyond borders, so much so, that at the thick of the incursion of the Federal troop into the Igbo heartland during the Biafran war, Awka was their major port of call.
At Awka, they leveled every building and structures that bore semblance of some form of habitation searching for the 'industries' and 'factories' where the Awka people were purportedly manufacturing ammunition and equipping the Biafran soldiers and frontiers!
Awka lost heavily in men and materials as a result of the war. The remnants, that is, the returnees, however who did not have further trade or ezi-ije to nurture, relapsed into the traditional work of blacksmith, medicine, woodwork and carvings.
It was so, as these set or remnants of the renowned Awka Black-Smiths (who bore the trauma of the civil war), in seeking strong commercial value, therefore, conglomerated at certain portions of the Eke Awka market...
Then, they could easily be found in clusters around Eke-Awka Area, leading up to the old Timber-shed, facing the St. Mary’s Catholic Church road (on the side leading towards Works-road from the Timber road junction).
Also, the portion of the area leading to the Post-Office building from the back alley-way.
As time went past, their numbers started to diminish. There was no longer the structure and culture of nwa-uzu; apprentice (that would have ensured continuity), which went unfashionable and extinct, that is, not when western education held sway.
Therefore, this last batch of professional Awka blacksmiths went somewhat to obscurity. And lo! The Black Smith work of the great Awka people became practically unpracticed in the large-scale order that brought it to prominence.
Nowadays, that-renowned Awka blacksmithing culture and trade is only but practiced sparingly, even at that, government agents continuously hound the few practitioners around as makers of locally made pistols and guns.
What else? That renowned Awka Blacksmithing skills, enterprises and culture are now etched in our minds, stickers, symbols and sculptures.
Other forms of human endeavors have taken over their place in time.
It is worthy of note that at that time, not long after the war, Awka people stabilized, but not without the Awka society evolving in a way that is suggestive of the strong post-war variables that contended with her tradition and culture.
Awka men and women started delving into diverse trades and routes that were before untested, remote or forbidden.
Yes, after weathering the effect of the losses due to the war, there was little attached to the time honored blacksmith and crafts.
Most of our fore-bearers who survived the fratricidal war were barely literate enough to comprehend the quick-paced changes and societal transformation that Awka was going through. They ended-up sleeping quietly.
It could be said that they were barely strong enough to live along with the changing times.
Even if they did, most Awka sons and daughters again scampered into distant lands in search of the Golden-Fleece and/or greener pastures.
Most obu in Awka, were left practically empty as the heir apparent(s) were in far away distant lands within the Nigerian geographical locations or overseas and may have vowed never to return until s/he has made enough money to show for the long sojourn in foreign lands.
Worst still, in the 90’s, the proliferation of the quick and dubious means of making money found easy recruits from the surging men and women.
Most people plying their legitimate trades could not fathom seeing their mates who just left for the city (say Lagos), returning home during festive seasons (say Christmas) with solid cars and even some were erecting state-of the-art houses.