Akwa Ocha, which simply means white cloth, is a white, hand-woven fabric regarded as the pride of the Anioma people, a subgroup of the Igbo ethnic group in Delta North senatorial district of Delta state. It is the traditional cloth worn and used by these people who are populaly referred to as the “Delta-Igbos”.
Akwa Ocha is a fabric made from wool and exists in wrapper form. This hand-woven fabric is worn mostly during important occasions like weddings, traditional ceremonies and birthday parties.
The origin of this fabric, has been credited to Ubulu-Uku, one of the communities in Aniocha/Oshimili constituency, better known as Enuani. This community is believed to be the pioneer producer of Akwa Ocha because they have a lot of cotton plantations which is used to make the fabric.
As a ceremonial attire, Anioma men tie it across the shoulder. Tying this fabric in contrast with the traditional red cap is usually a remarkable sight. The red colour traditionally signifies royalty and valour, no man wakes up to wear a red cap, he has to merit it.
Anioma women and brides equally tie it around the chest during marriage ceremonies. However, modern Anioma brides and women can now style the Akwa Ocha into elegant outfits to suit different occasions.
Ubulu-Uku women in Anioma Kingdom are known for this craft which has created great employment opportunities for them. The cloth is woven by these women with great expertise and it contains surface decorative motifs and symbols which include materials such as calabash, coconut shells, leather, raffia and beads, and their functions which reveal the peoples’ history, religion, culture and social behaviours.
The Anioma Kingdom prides itself in the purity embedded in this fabric, the dignity it attracts as a ceremonial attire, and they take pride in it as a craft.
Akwa Ocha remains a goldmine which the Anioma Kingdom proudly displays to the world. It is shipped abroad for Nigerians, Anioma people, and lovers of the Anioma culture in diaspora.