Enugu State is richly endowed with both human and natural resources. CHIKA OKEKE who undertook a tour of the mysterious Nnya lake recently, reports.
Enugu state is a haven for tourists. The Polo fields, Nike Lake among others are tourist’s sites that make Enugu a unique state in Nigeria. However, the existence of Nnya Lake remains a mystery to all the villagers till date. Nnya Lake shares a boundary between Enugu South and Enugu North in Enugu state. It’s a flowing lake surrounded with sharp sands and irrigation farms. Nnya’s existence could be traced to a shallow spot at Udi down Akwuke where it started gushing out. From there, it began to meander across other villages like Awkunanaw, Akpugo, Amagu-eze, all in Enugu North, South and Nkanu local government areas of Enugu State. The ownership of Nnya Lake could not be linked to a particular community but is partly managed by the communities and government. It serves as historical and educational tourism.
A native of Akwunanuw, Mr. Chukwuanyanwu Chukwu who spoke with LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, described the lake as a blessing to the communities. While narrating how the lake came into existence, he said, “At the foot, you will see the water gushing out with unimaginable force but will never notice the bank of the lake. Our forefathers named it “Nwanyi na-enye nwoke nri” which means, “a woman that feeds a man”. They gave it that name because during the olden days, when the lake started spreading, a big elephant entered in the lake to drink water. The elephant continued drinking water until, it slumped on the lake. So a man went to the lake to fetch water. On sighting the dead elephant, he raised the alarm and began to shout, “I have killed an elephant’. But because the man told lies, the lake used her sharp sand to bury the man deep inside the lake. Till today, his corpse neither floated nor was it discovered anywhere in the town.
He continued, “Immediately after the incidence, another woman came to the stream on that same day to fetch water and she sighted the dead elephant. She began to scream, ‘Nnya has killed an elephant. She continued shouting until the villagers gathered at the lake. With their machetes by their side, they began to slaughter the elephant and each went home with large chunks of meat. However, the elephant’s skull was kept in a place called, “Ani Awkunanaw”. From that day, Nnya began to expand which till date remains a mystery in the communities.
Mr. Chukwu further disclosed that idol worshippers went to the extent of appeasing the water goddess until it chose a chief priest. “After the incidence, idol worshippers came out in large numbers and started worshipping the god of the lake. They also engaged in making sacrifices to appease the water goddess. They continued with their sacrifice until the lake chose a chief priest that will serve as a mediator between her and the villagers.
“Nnya gradually turned to a demigod among the communities to such an extent that it began to swallow evil doers like murderers, robbers etc. Anybody that steals like goat or other valuables dare not fetch the water or even cross the stream. Because instantly, the person will begin to feel dizzy and fall inside the lake while the lake will use her sharp sand to swallow the victim. If the lake swallows anybody while other villagers were seen around her either washing or fetching water, the victims corpse will never float or seen anywhere in the village. But if Nnya swallows a person while nobody was seen either washing or fetching water, she will bring out the victims corpse to show that it was killed by her. Immediately, the person’s corpse would be buried close to the lake.
He noted that apart from her mysterious way of killing evil doers, any construction companies that dared construct along the lake also shared the same flaw. “Any construction company that fails to appease the lake and construct either road or railway, the lake will automatically divide the work into two and to some extent create another foot bridge mysteriously. Even the nollywood industry has constantly used the lake as their shooting location for a good number of movies.
At the ongoing railway line at Uzamdunu village that links Enugu to Abia, Rivers and a host of other states, our reporter also discovered that the rail line was divided into two while the construction company at the site created another channel for the section of the lake that expanded down to the village for easy flow.
Another native, Mr. Friday Ani noted that Nnya would disturb the construction work if the railway company fails to appease her well. According to him, “when the Nigerian Railway Corporation was fully operational, they were appeasing the lake.
But when the railway finally stopped its operation, nobody was appeasing the lake again. Nnya however, divided the railway bridge into two and another construction company is currently repairing it. In the same vein, an access road that link Enugu South and Nkanu down to Ebonyi State also suffered the same flaw. After the road construction which did not last up to two years, Nnya divided the road into two because the company failed to appease her. For the sustainability of any construction work across the Nnya lake, the company must appease the river goddess or face her wrath.
To appease her, the company has to visit “Ani Awkunanaw for full details. So if the present company undertaking the construction working on it now fails to treat her well, she will do the same and it may not be long. Whether they create a linkage for her or not, it does not matter.
Attempts made by LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, to speak with the construction company workers at the site proved abortive as they declined to comment on the issue.
Recently, the Enugu State government built some structures near the lake at Udi to serve as an alternative settlement for tourist and fun seekers. Though it was a beehive of activity, the fact remains that the project should be adequately maintained to ensure the sustainability of the project in the coming years.? The federal government and National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) should consider including this historical and aesthetic lake as one of its National monument sites due to its strategic location.