The Life And Times Of Mazi Vincent Ogbonnaya Okoro (The Eze Aro)
The Bible book of Ecclesiastes says: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die…A time to weep and a time to laugh: A time to mourn, and a time to dance.”
For the Aros across the world, nothing can more rightly capture the mood of the people now than the foregoing passage following the transition of their Monarch, the Eze Aro, Mazi Ogbonnaya Vincent Okoro, who recently joined his ancestors and the Aro saints after a brief sojourn at ‘Ovia Uwasi’.
According to official funeral arrangements drawn by the Aro National Rites of Passage Committee, the burial of the fallen Royal Father would climax a week long passage of rites which begun yesterday, Friday, second, to Monday, fifth April, 2021 at the Arochukwu Civic/Cultural Centre, Oror, Arochukwu by ten o’clock in the morning.
Late Mazi Ogbonnaya Vincent Okoro was a first class traditional ruler who occupied one of the ancient traditional stools in Nigeria. He was the custodian of the Aro heritage worldwide.
Born on March 6, 1932, to Mazi Okoro Ohu Asi Eko and Madam Nwannediya of the Aro ruling house, all of blessed memory, Mazi Ogbonnaya Okoro began his academic life at Jubilee School, Arochukwu as an infant. He attended Aggrey Primary School, Arochukwu, Muslem School, Ijebu- Ode and Ibadan Boys’ High School, Ibadan as well as a number of post-secondary institutions including Paddington College of Technology, South- East Essex College of Technology, Queen Mary’s Hospital and the Imperial College- all in London.
From the various institutions he attended abroad, Mazi Okoro acquired a myriad of Certificates, Diplomas and Fellowships in Medical Laboratory Technology. He was also a member of many technical societies such as the British Society for General Microbiology and the Royal Society of Health, England to mention but a few.
He returned to Nigeria in 1966 and began to work as a Laboratory Technologist, a research fellow and lecturer in a number of institutions including the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he was involved in the production of Nigeria’s first Cholera Vaccine in 1971 together with the renowned Professor of Virology and former President of the Nigerian Academy of Science, Prof. Augustine Njoku-Obi.
Late Mazi Ogbonnaya Vincent Okoro retired as the Chief Medical Laboratory Scientist at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1986 when the Aros prevailed on him to ascend the throne of the Ancient Aro Kingdom as Eze Aro. He was subsequently crowned on May 31, 1995.
He was married to a pretty and an accomplished school teacher, Orihe Nnennaya, and the marriage was blessed with five children.
Mazi Ogbonnaya Vincent Okoro Ohu Asi Eko was an embodiment of humility and peace. A man of honour and candour who encouraged hard work and the actualisation of self through conscious effort of developing natural abilities for service to God and mankind. A polite and generous family man with simple tastes, he was a true example of royalty without airs and boring trappings.
The late Royal Father would always tell UmuAro wherever domiciled to see themselves “as wearing the Crown of Eze Aro and to do their duty to Aro.”
During his reign, Mazi Ogbonnaya Okoro impacted tremendously on the affairs of the Aros, Abia State and Nigeria in many positive ways. He used his experience and charisma to maintain peace amongst Abians and other Igbos living at the North Eastern boundary of Abia State and their neighbours from Cross River and Akwa Ibom states.
He engineered the successful organisation of the All Aro National Conference, the Centenary Anniversary of the British-Aro War of 1901- 1902,witnessed the completion of the Aro Civic/ Cultural Centre as well as pressed on both the State and Federal Governments over the Umuahia – Ohafia- Arochukwu Road which was in terrible state of disrepair.
Little wonder that the President, Muhammadu Buhari described the “Eze Aro as a nationalist, statesman, selfless first class traditional ruler whose valued contributions in upholding the Arochukwu culture, Igbo tradition and values as an important part of our nation- building cannot be easily quantified.”
Mazi Ogbonnaya Okoro was a Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR) and also held the West African Merit Award, Millennium Award of Excellence, Certificates of Recognition from three states of the United States and Certificate of the United States Congressional Recognition as well as Certificate of Recognition by the United States Directorate of African Affairs.
Indeed, the Aros are in mournful mood, but let’s join the Italian polymath of the High Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci to say that “As a well spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.”
Adieu, His Majesty, Mazi Ogbonnaya Vincent Okoro Ohu Asi Eko, the Eze Aro.