Awo Omamma has evolved from an agrarian community of farmlands to one of the most transcendent towns in Imo State of Nigeria. And, this was not accidental Long before government intervention in rural communities , the people of Awo Omamma had eagerly and energetically embarked on a journey to self – help, giving them a head start in communal grass-root organization.

Whilst it was yet a mirage in many communities in Igboland , the people of Awo Omamma , heeding the clarion call of their illustrious sons Dr B.U Nzeribe, and Cihef D. N Akuneme organized themselves to build one of the largest educational centres in the then Eastern Nigeria – the Awo -Omamma comprehensive secondary school. This was a novelty in those days, placing Awo Omamma head and shoulders above other communities.The epiphany occurred in 1955, when Dr B.U Nzeribe, upon completion of his studies in far away USA returned home to Awo- Omamma with a vision to empower the people through education and Health Care delivery.

Dr Nzeribe’s vision and drive was shared by like minded Awo Omamma sons, notably chief Akuneme who had just returned from his studies from the University of Leeds in Britain. Together, these two would form the brain thrust that engineered the development of Awo Omamma. It was a humongous exercise; the equivalent of the proverbial head of the Carmel passing through the eye of a needle. How does one rally a semi- literate group of people ( most of whom clung to old traditions and, thus, not amenable to change) to a common cause? It took the attenuating presence of Dr B. U Nzeribe plus the oratorical and persuasive skill of Chief D.N Akuneme to dispel any negative notion, doubt or suspicion amongst the people, thus, by 1955, groundwork had begun in earnest at the site of Awo-Omamma comprehensive secondary school and Awo – Omamma General Hospital simultaneously . This unprecedented feat put Awo- Omamma firmly on the World map, giving them enormous leverage and bragging rights in Imo State of Nigeria.

An illustrious son of Awo-Omamma, Mr Cyril Ohanenye, (who was not acquainted to Dr Nzeribe at the time, but, friends with Chief Akuneme,–the bridge builder who introduced them to one another) a business mogul and philanthropist single- handedly bankrolled the entire project at the initial phase. His hefty donation of 400 pounds ( a colossal sum even by today’s standard) greatly lifted the project and gave fillip to the morale of the people. Even after the completion of the Awo-Omamma comprehensive secondary school and Awo- Onamma General Hospital, Chief Akuneme would not rest in his oars. He was relentless in his quest to bring education to the hinterlands. His effort led to the establishment of two additional secondary schools in Awo- Omamma. These are the Ubogwu Secondary Commercial School, and the Technical Secondary School Awo-Omamma. These pioneering efforts show Awo – Omamma as a very close knit family of 14 villages bound together by the common bond of love .

They have continued to enjoy filial love amongst themselves, celebrating their rich cultural heritage of ” Owu ” as a symbol of oneness. Their ingenuity and self – help effort also continues to serve as a template for other communities to emulate. Today, the landscape has changed dramatically from those agrarian days of 1955. In recognition of this economic, social and political evolution and through ADF, the people of Awo- Omamma have united again, with another vision to build upon the success of the previous generation by joining hands through synergy to write the next page in the history of the Town. ADF ( Awo- Omamma Development Forum ) in hindsight acknowledges the benefit of those investments in Education and Healthcare delivery which has borne fruits in Awo- Omamma.

From its agrarian roots, Awo – Omamma is today the home of multi-national companies, numerous pharmaceutical companies, plus a Novitiate , thanks to its enterprising and equable people. And, with foresight, ADF hopes to up the antè. The socio/ political cum economic contours have changed for the better thanks to the above adumbrated factors of a resilient and dogged people choosing to work harmoniously with a monomaniacal plan to uplift their town. N.B… Special thanks to the Polycarp Ejimfugha and countless other Awo Omamma sons and daughters who worked tirelessly to bring the dream to fruition. Your sacrifice and effort will never go unnoticed .

 

Charles Abazie ( writes from New Jersey.. USA ).