Awka (African) Metallurgy in America
The acknowledgment of the contribution of enslaved Igbo people in the United States recurrently includes their influence on blacksmithing that’s largely associated with the ancient blacksmithing town of Awka. Northern Igbo areas, including Awka, were especially the worst affected by slave raiding attacks by other Igbo towns. Blacksmithing, and particularly iron, held significant spiritual value among Igbo groups. Some suggest Awka blacksmiths were the makers of the ‘Igbo Ukwu’ leaded-bronzes noted for being more advanced than most metal workmanship around the world in the 9th century, and the Lower Niger Bronze Industry. Iron smelting in the region dates back to at least 2000 BC.
Enslaved Africans in the Americas were often chosen for the expertise they held back in Africa, for example rice planting Africans from the Senegambia and Guinea areas were overrepresented in rice planting Georgia. For enslaved Igbo people in particular, planters thought them more sensitive to mistreatment and better suited for the more domestic-oriented work in the Chesapeake area of Virginia on its isolated plantations, another possible reason was for their knowledge of metalworking and craftsmanship.