As discussed in the Master Plan, the Anam people includes eight distinct communities: Iyora, Umueze, Umuikwu, Umudora, Oroma, Umuem, Nmiata, and Umuoba. Each of their villages has its own traditional leadership councils and cultural celebrations, creating a unique identity for each settlement. During a series of blog posts over the coming months, the Anam Rurban Design Workshop will visit and study many of these settlements, noting how these distinctive traditions, lifestyles, and land-use strategies can be incorporated into the vision for Anam New City.
The first tour of the Workshop took us to the Village of Iyora on the eastern side of the Ezichi River. Beautiful and idyllic, it is also a town of contrasts. The community is energetic and welcoming, albeit much of the resident population is comprised of children and elders, with remarkably few teenagers and adults of working age. The housing structures and surrounding farms also reflect parallel evolutionary processes. The settlement consists of cinderblock and cement family homes organized around piazza-like outdoor spaces, often including smaller bamboo structures that serve as cooking spaces. Alongside this, however, are many unfinished structures appears temporarily on hold or permanently abandoned. Piles of bricks collecting moss and the beginnings of cement foundations with exposed rebar reinforcements populate the landscape as hopeful semi-permanent features.
Complementing these infrastructures, Anamites in Iyora employ a range of techniques to maximize the productive use of land. Each crop is clearly placed according to well-practiced patterns. The result is a verdant landscape of mixed-use and productive gardens. For example, in one central area of town, a palm tree is ringed by pineapple plants, which are further surrounded by sweet potatoes. Each plant also serves a variety of purposes: the nut of the palm tree is cracked and boiled down for oil; the husks are used for sweeping and cleaning. No part of the palm tree is left unused. In other areas, melons are intercropped with yam and corn. When not filled with water, ponds throughout town are planted with a variety of crops, illustrating individual farming initiatives woven into a larger community consensus on land use. Each parcel of farmland tells a backstory of long planned techniques; while the town’s layout as a whole reveals a narrative in communal land management.
The Anam New City project hopes to blend the strong cultural traditions seen in Iyora with the expanded economic opportunities of a more connected settlement. By introducing seed projects, such as a brick factory and fish farm, Anam New City will allow Anamites to achieve a viable lifestyle without forgoing the community’s valuable heritage in agriculture. As an innovative mix of rural and urban, individual and community, economic growth and sustainability, tradition and invention, the Rurban Design Workshop will continue build on existing land use practices in hybrid with the rurban model of Anam City’s urban design.