Here are 10 facts about Enugu that demonstrate the historical importance and political relevance of the city state. Enugu is the name of a State in Southeast Nigeria and also the name of its capital city. In other words, Enugu City is the capital of Enugu State, one of the 36 states of Nigeria.

1.What does the name, Enugu, mean?

Colonialists constructed the name Enugu from two Igbo words, Enu Ugwu. The words (Enu Ugwu) stand for “top of the hill” or “hilltop” as more popularly rendered. Britons who managed the coal mining business in Enugu anglicized and wrote the name as Enugu because they could not pronounce the Igbo alphabet “gw” (same sound as “Gw” in Gwen). Enu Ugwu describes the location of this historical Igbo town which nestles atop one of the escarpments of Udi Hills. Ironically, the city itself is not on a hill. Enugu began as three settlements. These include Iva Valley (site for the coal mines), Government Reservation Area (GRA), and the miners camp (known as Coal Camp) in today’s Ogbete District. It was from these basic locations, that the metropolis began to extent deeper into Nike in the North and East, Awkunanaw in the South and towards Ngwo in the North.

2. Why is Enugu called the Coal City?

Enugu began as a coal mining town in 1949, following discoveries of huge coal deposits along the Iva Valley parts of Udi Hill. Coal business sustained the city’s economy for more than three decades. The government of Enugu State therefore had no difficulty in adopting the slogan “Coal City State” for Enugu while its capital, Enugu City, became simply known as Coal City. A lush tropical vegetation covers the landscape and harbous many coal reserves.

3. Is Enugu the capital of Eastern Nigeria?

Yes it was. Enugu served as the political capital of the Eastern Region from the colonial period up until the advent of the Nigerian Civil war. In 1967, Nigeria divided the region into three states to weaken a breakaway Eastern Region, renamed Biafra. Enugu became the capital of one of the three, known as East Central State. Another military government further broke down East Central State into two States. Anambra and Imo. Enugu retained its status as capital of old Anambra State. Yet another military regime split Anambra State two more states, Enugu and Anambra and Enugu City naturally became the capital of Enugu State. Enugu, which started as the capital of the defunct Eastern Nigeria, progressively served as the capital of the defunct Biafra, old East Central State, old Anambra State, and the current Enugu State.

4. What important cultural events can one attend in Enugu today?

The private sector promotes three major art-related intellectual events that take place on weekly, monthly and annual basis in the Coal City. The Enugu Literary Society is one of the societies that hold reading sessions every other Saturday week. Nkata Umu Ibe (kindred conversations) is a monthly townhall that interrogates issues affecting the development of the South East Region. The organizers rested the monthly meet due to lack of sponsorship. Life in My City Arts Festival is a November annual gathering of young artists from all over the nation to showcase their works. In addition, government promotes cultural events such as Mmonwu (masquerade) festival, ifejioku (new yam) festival, and other local festivals that hold powerful attraction for residents and visitors.

5. Does Enugu have an international airport?

Yes. The International Airport is certainly one of the 10 facts worth knowing about Enugu. International visitors flying to Southeast Nigeria have direct routes to this airport, known as Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu (ENU). Those wishing to travel abroad can book direct flights from Enugu with Ethiopian Airlines as their only option. This airline operates four weekly flights to ENU. There are reports that Qatar Airways is planning to fly the route too. The airport was however closed to traffic on 24 August 2019 to reconstruct a failing tarmac. The first international flight to the airport after the rehabilitation was on 1 October 2021.

6. What other popular attractions can one find in Enugu State and Enugu City?

Visitors looking for adventure can go on a guided tour of historical and natural sites in Enugu such as the coal mines, the caves and many waterfalls doting the local landscape. The more developed popular caves and waterfalls include Awhum and Ezeagu Waterfalls and Caves. For arts connoisseurs, there is a blossoming arts and music scene (see 4 above). For family picnics, Polo Park was the preferred outdoor destination for family fun but it has now been replaced by a modern complex comprising shopping malls, a food court, and a cinema viewing centre where families can also have indoor fun. Families can enjoy outdoor fun on the grounds of Nike Lake Resort Hotel – with its natural lake which features boat rides and vast grounds that are perfect for family picnics. Visitors can also marvel at historical monuments such as the Eastern region Parliamentary building, the old Cabinet Building, the Old Governor’s Lodge, and the building first occupied by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first President, when he was Premier of the Eastern Region.

7. Are there recreation centres for children in Enugu?

There are many recreation centres in the City, including Jan Glover rides at old Polo Park and Oakland Park hotel. Many hotels feature swimming pools while two radio stations organize shows for children during popular festivals (Christmas and Easter).

8. Are there world-famous Nigerians from Enugu State?

Enugu has produced world-class engineers and jurists, including a former president of the World Court, late Justice Daddy Onyeama. Enugu judiciary used to be a popular destination for tapping Supreme Court justices in Igbo land with the likes of Onyeama, Justices Augustine Nnamani, Anthony Aniagolu, Dennis Onyejife Edozie, and the current occupant of Enugu origin, Justice Chima Centus Nweze. Prof. Bart Nnaji is a world-renowned robotics engineer from Enugu State. On the political front, the creation of Enugu State was given traction by the spirited efforts of Chief Christian Onoh, while Prof. Ike Ekweremadu has the distinction of being the longest serving deputy president of the Nigerian Senate, winning his last tenure as an opposition legislator. Other popular names include Chief Jim Nwobodo (former Governor of old Anambra State), Chief Ken Nnamani (former President of Senate).

9. What famous national menu is patented in Enugu?

The local stew for pastes (notably garri and pounded yam) made in Enugu include achi, ukpo and akpalata stews. Enugu is also famous for okpa, the delicious paste made from bambara seed. The corn flakes made like salads (called abacha) has many varieties as patented by people of Enugu West . Both the Enugu Okpa and abacha flakes have gradually transformed into national menus enjoyed by all tribes.

10. Is Enugu an industrial hub in Igboland?

No. That title belongs to Aba (Abia State) and Nnewi (Anambra State). Enugu State is a civil service location, famous for its higher institutions of learning. Notable institutions include Nigeria’s first indigenous university, the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN). It was founded by Nigeria’s first indigenous president, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. UNN began as a multi-campus institution with campuses in Enugu City, Calabar and Port Harcourt. The Calabar and Port Harcourt Campuses were converted into independent universities now known as University of Calabar and University of Port Harcourt. Similarly, the Old Anambra State University of Science & Technology was founded by Chief Jim Nwobodo as a multi-campus university in Enugu, Abakaliki and Awka. With the creation of more states, the three campuses of ASUTEC are now independent institutions known as Enugu State University of Science and Technology (Agbani), Nnamdi Azikiwe University (Awka) and Ebonyi State University. There are private universities, polytechnics and colleges of Education in the State including Godfrey Okoye University, Coal City University, Caritas University, Renaissance University, and a campus of Madonna University, among others.

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