Our hometown is where our roots lie; that is where our ancestors were born. My roots lie in a colossal town called Onitsha in Anambra State, Nigeria. Onitsha is what can be referred to as the “Nigerian New York.” This is because of the similar features it has to New York in terms of job opportunities. It is a place where a person can better his way of life financially.
Onitsha is a very large and heavily populated town primarily known for the gigantic market it has called the Onitsha Main-Market. This market happens to be the prevalent market in the whole West Africa. It is mainly because of this market that the town has some of the characteristics identical to New York’s. One of these characteristics is job opportunity. The market includes people who provide services such as computer repairs, mini perm kernel mashing companies, car mechanics, paint producing mini companies, and many other small companies. These companies provide jobs for many inhabitants of the town; because of this people migrate into the state and converge around Onitsha. The market also hosts other sales such as: electronics, meat, fish clothes (both foreign and home made), agricultural products, cars, books, building facilities, and many other items, and they are gotten at a very cheap rate because of the large quantities which are needed. These products are bought in Onitsha Main-Market and moved to other surrounding retailers. As each month passes, the market increases its size since many businessmen join-in on the sales.
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My town has a major oil producing company. This company produces local palm oil, which in high demand. This palm oil is then used for different purposes. There isn’t a part of the fruit that is not valuable, from the fleshy outer layer through the shell to the seed. The air produced from the machines from the companies in the town makes some part of the town smell like roasted peanut or roasted palm kernel.
Because of these industries and job opportunities many people come to my village to make money.
My town is the exact opposite of a quiet town; something is always happening. Most parts of the town are noisy from around 8.00am to 5.00pm, which is the official working hour, and the streets are very busy especially around the Niger Bridge, because of the people coming into the town. The Niger Bridge is the only bridge linking the state to the northern states and southern states, and the bridge is located in Onitsha.
My town also has traditional rulers who are conveyed the title “Obi of Onitsha” Which means the heart of the town. The bearer of this title not only rules my town but is also confided in by other traditional rulers all over the Igbo (Ibo) land in Nigeria. The Igbo land is made up of over three hundred town heads called village heads/rulers. This title is very old and sacred, and anyone who holds the title is sure to be an honorable, honest, hardworking and wise person. It doesn’t matter how much money the person has; all that matters is considered in selecting such a person is the leadership qualities he has in him. There are also other honorable titles given out to individuals besides the Obi of Onitsha title; one of these is the “Nze na Ozo” title of which I am a holder.
When a person is given a title, he is given a name that depicts why he was given the title. For example, I was given a title with three title names; the first one is “Ezike Ugo nna ya” which means “the pride of his father”. The second title is “Ezike Eziokwu bu ndu” which means “truth is life”. The last of the three is “Ezike Nne dum eje” which means, “My mother leads me”. In the earlier days anyone who fails to stand up to his title would be stripped off the title, but now once a person is given the title he sticks to it even if he changes his behavior for worse. Title-holders are nevertheless regarded as people who stand by the truth no matter what.
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My town also has cultural festivals such as the “New Yam Festival” and the “Masquerade Festival”. The two festivals are very well celebrated, but the most celebrated festival is the “New Yam Festival” where we celebrate good harvest; it is normally celebrated during harvest time. The Masquerade Festival is normally done around Christmas time that in the month of December after the New Yam Festival. During these festivals ancient cultural dances and parades are performed, and they are entertaining to watch or participate in.
My town is one of the few towns in Nigeria where the great River Niger can be seen running through, but it is the only town where the bridge over the Niger River is located. It is from this river that Nigeria got its name. People fish from the river and also do there to relax. The temperature in my town is over 75 degree centigrade and is generally very hot, but the riverside is cool so people go there to relax.
My town has also produced great African leaders and heroes such as Late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe otherwise known as the great Zik of Africa who was also the first Nigerian president and assumed office in 1963. That was three years after Nigerians independence.
My town is a very sophisticated place to visit, and I will recommend anyone who is visiting Nigeria to explore my town; I assure him that he will take pleasure in the trip.