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Awka Smiths

Over the centuries, the people of Awka (in modern-day Anambra State) have developed an age-old conversance with the sciences of metallurgy and iron working, which has led them to be reputed throughout Igboland as exceptionally-skilled blacksmiths. In the precolonial and early colonial eras, Awka smiths often migrated to towns as far as Idah (in modern-day Kogi State), where they settled and employed their skills.

The advent of the British in the late 19th and early 20th centuries spelled doom for Awka's blacksmiths. The mass flooding of cheap, British-manufactured iron and metal products into Igboland destroyed the relevance of native blacksmiths from smithing communities like Awka, Abiriba, and Edda. However, the smithing traditions of Awka were briefly revived during the Nigerian-Biafran War, since there became a need for indigenously manufactured weapons for the war effort. The photo above depicts Biafran soldiers inspecting a rifle produced by Akwa gunsmiths.



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