History has brought to light the fact that the Aro of yesterday was more influential, popular, united and respected than the Aro of today. Many years ago, our ancestor foresaw the present challenges that are hindering Aro’s development today and fought very hard to stop the Colonizers. “In Berlin accord we stand”, the foreigners assured one another as they pulled the trigger. Our ancestors fearlessly challenged them in a bloody war that started in 1893. Having been conquered several times, the British military and their allies reinforced and returned in 1901 with the aim of wiping out the Aro people and destroying completely whatever legacy Aro was known for and proud of. The genocide and war crimes they committed in Aro land between 1901 and 1902 was swept under the carpet and left unreported. Indeed, Aro lost her pride in the genocide: our original name and its meaning was lost, our original language and symbolic writing system which was the oldest form of writing known to man was lost, territories were lost, the origin and essence of most Aro cultures and traditions were ridiculed, caricatured and replaced with western teaching tailored in such a manner that they give the Colonizers a complete hegemony of the Aro States and control of the subconscious mind of the Aro people.
Through their teachings, today, we have been divided in the lines of religions and doctrines whose origins we are not allowed to question, despite the fact that we do not know them except whatever they tell us to believe. Little wonder they call us ‘black monkeys’. We have ignored the wisdom and ways of our fathers. We have counted worthless the lives and contributions of our ancestors. We have allowed their labours to be in vain. We have believed lies told us against our fathers by Europeans. We tend to believe whatever they tell us without questioning to enables us investigate the true position. Western religion and culture were brought upon our fathers with guns and ammunition. Our fathers rejected it and opposed all forms of western control but were overpowered. Today, western religion and culture have physically, spiritually, morally, emotionally and socially conquered us completely. However, we have a lifeline, though. We can reject all forms of western control and advance like such countries as China, Japan, India, etc. who have taken their own destinies in their hands. The first step, of course, would be to remember, honour and support our ancestors.
The Origin of ‘igwe bụ ike ideology’ and ‘ako bụ ije movement’
It is a cheap lie told us by Europeans that our fathers were not civilized, whereas, the truth is that Europeans were educated by our fathers in ancient black kingdoms such as Kmt and Kush (ancient Egypt), Babylon, Persia, etc. they (Europeans) destroyed the kingdoms and claimed all the civilizations built in them by our fathers.
It was during the reign of His Majesty Mazi Eze Akuma Nnubi (1143 – 1156) who was the first king to rules the United Kingdom of the Great Arochiukwu that the foundation of Biafra was laid. Eze Mazi Akuma Nnubi and his elder brother were war veterans conscripted to help fight for their Aro brothers against the Ibibios in the Aro-Ibibio war which took place between 1142 and 1143. Osim was lost in the war, however, his younger brother, Akuma was compensated. As a war veteran, he established warrior colonies throughout the present day southeast and southsouth Nigeria. Aro, also had warrior colonies in southwest, princely, Ogun and Lagos States. There were Aro colonies in parts of present day Kogi and Benue States. Aro’s influence extended to many African nations but the ones captured so far are: southern Cameroun, northern Equatorial Guinea and part of southern Guinea Bissau.
The Portuguese were the first Europeans to explore the west coast of Africa. The place they arrive was Calabar in 1450. The name ‘Calabar’ is a coinage of two words: ‘kala’ and ‘bush’. The Portuguese named it Kalabush, but they had difficulty in naming the entire colonies because the spoke different tongues but were under one Aro government. The Aro king who was in power and controlled the entire Aro colonies at the time was His Majesty Eze Mazi Okoro Kanu (1444 – 1468). The Portuguese continued with the exploration until they got to a country know today as Guinea Bissau. At the coast of Guinea was, and still is, a tribe called the ‘Biafada tribe’ whose culture was similar to the culture of all the colonies under the Aro government. Owing to the culture similarity, the Portuguese concluded that the Biafada tribe was related to the Aro colonies. When they returned to Kalabush, they named the shore of Kalabush waters the ‘Bight of Biafada’; and the people, they called Biafadas. The Aro king who was in charge of the Bight of Biafada and controlled trade between the people of his region and the Portuguese was His Majesty Eze Mazi Oke Asi (1469 – 1521).
Biafra was a United economic-cum-political states established by the Aro government based on the ‘igwe bụ ike ideology’. It was never recorded that Aro warriors engaged any community in warfare in order to establish hegemony. The Aro’s ‘igwe bụ ike ideology’ was propelled by their wise and peaceful ‘akọ bụ ije movement’. The ‘igwe bụ ike ideology’ was aimed at uniting all African nations for quicker economic-cum-political advancement just as African tribes were once united in Kmt (ancient Egypt) and they civilized the world. They were succeeding until the Europeans invaded Africa and halted the progression.
In contemporary Africa, most communities have realized the harmfulness of promoting western culture and religions in lieu of African culture and traditions. Therefore, there have been renewed interest in reviving African culture and traditions hence we see communities engage in different culture revival festivities such as New Yam Festival, Hunting and Fishing Festival, Arts and Culture Display, Cultural Carnivals, etc.
History is here to teach the wise. Starting from 14th century, some free-thinking Europeans realized that western religion was responsible for the slow pace of human development, as a result, there arose a new interest in Greek culture and philosophy what followed next was rapid advancement in science and technology. They marked those periods which were 14th, 15th and 16thcenturies as the ‘Renaissance’. We, Africans, need to emulate the attitude of the Renaissance men.
There is an urgent need for restoration of Aro culture. Science and technology, economic and political advancement of Africa depends so much on revival of rich African cultures, especially, the prestigious Aro history and traditions. In conscious pursuit of the above, some patriotic Aro sons have created a platform called ‘Arochiukwu Reinstatement Operation (A.R.O)’ which is saddled with the responsibility of executing projects aimed at reviving ancient Aro arts and culture, including film production of Aro history and events. The Aro Kingdom and people will enjoy enormous benefits that shall accrue from the projects. Ancient arts will be rediscovered and displayed in conspicuous places. There will be an art gallery display of all Aro kings from C.E. 912 to the present Era. There will be display of arts and historic symbols unique to each of the nineteen (19) villages. Historic sites and artifacts will be rediscovered and preserved for research and development purposes. There will be an annual publication of citations and awards to illustrious Aro sons and daughters who have contributed or are still contributing immensely to the wellbeing of our ancient kingdom.
If the A.R.O. projects are supported, Arochiukwu shall, once again, rise to an enviable Hall of Fame and quickly recover her lost economic-cum-political relevance in Nigeria, and in the emerging new Biafra, in African continent and the world in general.
On the above note, we call on every well-meaning Aro son or daughter who has the Aro interest at heart to identify with the Arochiukwu Reinstatement Operation and also support our laudable projects morally, financially and otherwise.