Slavery or Slave Trade cannot be emphasized without a clear understanding of the role of the Aro People hence they are believed to be the slave traders.
During the era of Slave Trade, the Aro people hammered a powerful trading market known for exchange of slaves with money which led to the incorporation of hundreds of many other groups that formed into powerful kingdoms.
The slave trading network formed by the Aros led to the incorporation between the Ajalli People, Aro ndi izuogu, and Bende Kingdoms were the most powerful Aro powers in the alliance after Arochukwu.
Some were also formed and named after great Commanders and Chiefs like the factual Izuogu Mgbokpo and Iheme.
These legendary warriors led Aro forces to demolish and conquer the people of Ikpa Ora and founded Arondizuogu, this was why the present Aro Ndi Izuogu is named so, it was formally a resident of the Ikpa Ora People.
Aro People were not just slave traders but the first set of Igbo that were oftenly travelling due to their commercial impulse. Aro People are highly enterprising, leading them to moving from one place to the other. We have a unique history and tradition, which the every Aro person should be proud of.
Onuasu river located in the historic Amasu village is known as the ancient trade avenue of the Aro People with her Ibibio neighbours of today’s Akwa Ibom state and Ito, Itu, Asang and Bakasi in Cross Rivers State.
The History of Slavery in the Igbo land can never be complete without mentioning the Onuasu River since it was the only means of transporting the slaves from Arochukwu to Itu where the major slave-trading nations, like Portuguese, the Spanish, the French, the British, the Danish, and the Dutch will assemble to pay for the slaves before proceeding with them to Cameron where they will convey them to their various countries.
The Role of Arochukwu or Aro People during the Slave Trade is buying from other Igbo People, then vend them to the slave trading nation’s like the Danish, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, French and Britain People.
Like people often say, that Aro People did not just sell slaves but went further kidnapping ignorant People to sell, that is not true.
Aro People did not do such, they only buy from retailers while they convey the slaves to the foreign buyers.
This was so because, those that sell to the Aro People are unenlightened and cannot access the foreign buyers without the help of Aro People.
Spectacularly, the slave trade was the major significant commercial and economic activity that the Arochukwu people were known for, which also, gave them fame and made them establish settlements outside their native Aro. They were known all over the world for owning one of the most powerful, reverenced and frightening oracle in Igbo land called Ibini Ukpabi being the native name while the Britain refer it as long juju. It was widely accepted that the oracle own awesome powers such that it could deliver immediate judgements it was used to settle cases, particularly those of murder, witchcraft, poisoning and family disputes.
Ibini Ukpabi was known all over igbo land and was supreme throughout the Niger Delta region.
After a successful judgement by Ibini Ukpabi the losing party of a judgement will traditionally be killed by the oracle, but at a time the priests of Ibini Ukpabi initiated an alternative of selling those that loosed a judgement into slavery instead of leaving Ibini Ukpabi to destroy them.
While the Chief Priest of Ibini Ukpabi was doing so, the priest was falsely accused that the priests of Ibini Ukpabi falsely accused some of the decisions of the oracle in order to secure both the guilty and unguilty to be sold into slavery. Hundreds of people visited Ibini Ukpabi and many couldn’t make their way back home, their communities usually believed that the oracle had consumed anybody that visited it.
For this reason, it was famous and widely consulted by people from far.
But unfortunately, the Long Juju was used by the Arochukwu people to carry out the activities of the slave trade and that was one of the reasons why the British gave an instruction for a penal demolition against them in the year 1902.
The strategic location of Arochukwu in the Cross River basin positioned them securely to control the booming slave trade in Igbo land and beyond as middleman to European slave merchants. Undoubtedly, the Arochukwu is a great Kingdom, whose stamp remain ineradicable in Igbo history but the extent to which their deeds are rendered in current narratives and writings as historical truths are questionable.